For most knowledge For workers, this summer marks the end of the great remote working experience and the beginning of a return to normal. People return to offices, dust off office space, and go back to their old routines. But for some people, the pandemic year has permanently changed the relationship with the office. Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University, Expect That more work is likely to be done remotely — 22 percent of work days in the future, compared to just 5 percent in the pre-pandemic period.
Not every employee gives up the office forever. But even if a small percentage succeed, it could create a number of “second-order effects,” says Andreas Klinger, an advocate for remote work who has launched Far first capital in 2019. The $7.5 million fund is looking for startups that solve remote work problems — for example, Helping startups manage payroll When its employees are scattered all over the world — but also those who “benefit from remote work in a unique way.” Klinger says the potential opportunities go well beyond traditional business services. These startups begin to reimagine what the future would look like if more people could disengage from where they work and where they live: “How would the world change if more people worked remotely? How would countries, families, education and daily life change?”
The answers to these questions preoccupied not only economists and policymakers, but founders and venture capitalists eager to take advantage of any turmoil in the status quo. Some of these startups are taking bold views about how much a small increase in remote work can change people’s lifestyles. Galileo, which is the first online school, intended to do primary education what remote work has done for distributed teams. “School was one of the most important things that kept you in place: you can’t move because of your kids in school,” says Vlad Stan, Galileo’s founder. “With our school, it is much easier to move from one place to another. We enable people to have a more flexible life.”
The startup charges for a suite of online educational tools and access to a number of personalized “learning tools” around the world. Similar to Montessori School, students have individualized learning plans and are self-directed throughout the day, supported by a number of online tutors.
Stan, who is currently based in Spain, says Galileo has seen a growing interest from families looking to live more nomadically as a result of remote work. “We started this as an experiment two years ago, right before Covid, with 20 students,” he says. Now, Galileo has 200 students from 30 countries who are fully enrolled.
Other startups hope to prosecute workers who are happy to travel by providing housing as a service. Anyplace, an Airbnb-like marketplace, lists furnished apartments that rent on monthly rental contracts and include basic amenities like WiFi. When Anyplace launched in 2017, most of its customers were self-employed or people with independent income. Now, Satoru founder Steve Naito says he’s seeing more people who “work for tech giants like Facebook or Twitter and start using Anyplace. So now we’re improving our product for remote workers.”
Recently, Anyplace began listing its own apartments designed specifically for remote workers, called Choose any place. Each one comes with gigabit internet, standing desks, ergonomic chairs, and second monitors. “If you don’t have a great work environment, it’s not great to work remotely,” says Naito, who has changed cities every few months for the past five years. He believes that if services like his make the nomadic lifestyle easier, more people will take advantage of the benefits of telecommuting and make this lifestyle more popular.
Startups like Anyplace and Gailio target a specific demographic: people who have the option to work from anywhere, and who actually Wants To move from one city to another. By most accounts, that’s not a huge number of people. Although the number of days working from home is expected to increase from pre-pandemic levels, surveys such as Bloom’s study suggest that this is because employers are adopting a “hybrid” model, rather than allowing people to work remotely all the time.