The dream of the techno-utopian workplace is dead. Remote work proved that digitizing the workplace isn’t liberating, it’s a company-controlled nightmare.

laptop screen showing video meeting with pixelated blue participants with crossed out eyes and frowns
  • When the pandemic hit, companies embraced remote work, especially as productivity began to increase.
  • Instead of investing in luxury office spaces, companies are investing in employee monitoring software to maintain a sense of control.
  • As companies put profit over workers, it is clear that technology in the workplace was never going to be liberating.
  • Katya Schwenk is a journalist writing about tech and surveillance.
  • This is an opinion article. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey abruptly announced last year that his employees could work remotely “forever,” the move was hailed as no less than “the end of the office as we know it.”

A year later, the mythos of the digital workplace persists. Companies now insist that the pandemic has heralded in a new, if inevitable, age of work – one in which technology is enabling “workforce liberation,” as one CEO wrote in March. “Once a futuristic vision,” Boston Consulting Group has pronounced, “the bionic company is here.”

The new cyborg workplace promised by corporate America is placeless; perfectly digitized and perfectly efficient. Its workers have been freed from the old shackles of the office. For years, business executives have pushed to better integrate technologies like artificial intelligence in the workplace, arguing that greater employee autonomy will follow. The pandemic, they claim, has proved this to be true. “We are seeing a human transformation right before our eyes,” Dell’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Clarke told investors last year. Under this model, worker productivity has reached “an all-time high,” he said.

Don’t fall for this charade. A year into the pandemic, it is more clear than ever that Zoom calls and “people analytics” are no antidote to the woes of the office. Automation and new technologies have never liberated the workplace; they aren’t doing so now, either.

Instead, companies are deploying tech to cement their control over employees. This sort of control is certainly not new. In the early 20th century, Frederick Taylor pioneered a strategy of “scientific management,” which placed workers under close surveillance in a ruthless pursuit of efficiency. But the age-old trend accelerated rapidly when the pandemic forced more than a third of the US labor force to work virtually.

The ideal of a digitized, “flexible” workplace is a familiar one. It draws from techno-utopian thought birthed in Silicon Valley, which in the early days of the internet imagined technology as a democratizing force, a means to secure personal freedom.

“There was a strong sense back then … that wiring the world was good in and of itself,” Chris Hughes, a now-defected Facebook co-founder, told The New Yorker in 2019. It did not take long for this ethos to reach the workplace.

For years, gig platforms like Uber and Instacart have touted their “new model” for work – using the language of liberation to describe a labor model that, in reality, quite closely resembles exploitative practices of prior decades. Uber’s tech might be innovative, but its vision for labor is not.

An example of in-app messages sent by Uber in recent weeks
An example of in-app messages sent by Uber as part of their Prop. 22 campaign.

Uber’s lobbying campaign for Proposition 22 in California, which exempted app-based drivers from being classified as employees, deployed this same techno-utopian language. “We believe a better way to work is possible,” the company wrote to its employees, urging them to vote for the legislation. Ultimately, the ballot item passed, greenlighting an independent contractor system that takes advantage of drivers and is likely to be replicated across the country. The erosion of employee benefits is being dressed up in the language of innovation.

But the behemoth companies that have recently joined in to claim a liberated, office-free workforce were – just a year or so ago – fixated on the physical office.

From luxury offices to digital offices

In 2018, cloud-computing behemoth Salesforce unveiled its new corporate headquarters in downtown San Francisco: a 1,070-foot skyscraper that, to date, stands as the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. The building is decked out with the usual luxuries of tech campuses: lounges, meditation rooms, and a “media center.”

Then, in February, the company bluntly announced that its 9-5 workday was “dead.” Salesforce did not plan to wholly abandon its offices, president Brent Hyder assured employees, but instead hoped to “create the office of the future” – one that hinged on remote work, significantly reducing office use. Its skyscraper, which has indelibly changed the San Francisco skyline, quickly went from crown jewel to disposable commodity.

Salesforce tower
The Salesforce tower dominates the San Francisco skyline.

This about-face is less confounding if workplace technologies are understood to function in much the same way as meticulous office design. As Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey writes, the utopian office – whether Salesforce’s skyscraper or Epic Systems’ bizarre, fairy-tale headquarters – entices workers to extend their hours, blurring the lines between work and leisure.

A virtual workplace, it turns out, does this better – or, at least, companies like Salesforce are banking on it. Studies have indeed demonstrated that “productivity” increases when employees work remotely, but attribute this effect, in large part, to longer working hours. Perhaps as a result, some studies have found that remote workers report burnout at higher rates than their in-person colleagues.

Companies, of course, could take measures to improve remote conditions by better regulating workers’ hours or easing expectations around productivity. But this is unlikely. For the most part, companies that have decided to adopt a remote or hybrid model have cited increased efficiency as a key reason for doing so.

A new form of employee surveillance

As companies invest in their virtual workplaces, they are at the same time investing in new technologies for worker surveillance. Employee monitoring has a storied history, particularly in the US, but its newfound popularity casts doubt on the “liberation” of employees in the virtual workplace.

One recent survey of 2,000 companies using remote work found a “rapid” uptick in use of such tools. More than three-quarters reported that they conducted employee surveillance. A stunning 57% of those companies said that they had implemented the tools within the last six months.

Driving the trend, the survey found, was fear held by company executives that they had “a lack of control” over their remote business. A majority reported that they “don’t trust” their employees to work without such digital supervision – an anxiety that will likely drive autocratic management practices in the virtual office.

Companies that peddle employee monitoring tools have happily capitalized on that fear, branding themselves as a cornerstone of the future of work. “With more and more employees working outside the office,” writes monitoring company InterGuard, “digital employee monitoring is more important than ever.”

Their tools are far-reaching. Teramind’s live demo of its monitoring platform demonstrates a sophisticated system, one that records keystrokes, sends live “alerts” when employees spend above-average time on social media sites, and ranks workers by their calculated “productivity.” This is our supposedly emancipated workplace.

Accidental accessibility

Yet, remote work – despite all of this – remains popular among workers. And for good reason: The fight for greater flexibility in the workplace, led by people with disabilities and working parents, dates back decades. If there is a grain of truth to companies’ claims of a liberated workforce, it is here. For many, remote work is an important accommodation. It is, maybe, a liberating one.

The issue is that the pivot to the virtual office was not intended as such. The change was forced by the pandemic and, subsequently, driven by the interests of employers – after years of companies refusing to make such changes. As StaffCop Enterprise, another employee monitoring vendor, explains it: “Gone are the days when remote work was only appealing to employees.”

As Marianne Eloise writes, disabled people still need accommodations, within a remote workplace or not. Unsurprisingly, there has been no new rush to provide greater accessibility. And many jobs, while increasingly digitized, cannot be done remotely – a reminder that the companies that claim to provide ubiquitous flexibility are generally doing so only for highly-paid, white-collar employees, widening the cracks of the fissured workplace.

A year of heightened virtual surveillance, amid false claims of freedom, has shattered the ideal of the techno-utopian office. Still, the status quo of the workplace is always under threat. Sometimes, this disruption does come in the form of technology: A ride-hailing app co-op that hopes to topple Uber and Lyft’s empire in New York City, for instance, or a company developing technologies that would aid worker unionization. But this is not innovation on its natural course; it is something we must fight for.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon office employees can work remotely 2 days per week – and spend 4 weeks each year working from anywhere in their home country

Amazon office employees
As professional services that help customers get onto their cloud providers are increasingly needed, analysts say AWS may want to bring specialized firms on board.

  • Amazon corporate and tech workers worldwide won’t have to return to the office full-time.
  • Employees will be able to work remotely 2 days per week, the company said in a memo.
  • They can also spend 4 weeks each year working from another location anywhere in their home country.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon is softening its earlier stance on having an “office-centric culture” by the fall.

Corporate and tech employees worldwide will be allowed to work remotely for two days per week, the company said in a memo sent on Thursday, viewed by Insider.

Read more: Frustrated Amazon employees rip on the company for encouraging them to come back to the office

The office workers will also be allowed to clock-in from another location within their home countries for up to four weeks each year.

“We know that Amazonians will do the work from where it will yield the best result for customers,” the company wrote.

Employees that wish to work remotely for three days or more can apply for an exemption, but will be considered primarily remote workers and will not have a dedicated workspace at the office.

The company said most of its offices are open as of this week, and that it expects employees to begin regularly working in-person after Labor Day in September.

The memo also encouraged workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19, and said the company has provided vaccine access for more than one million workers in the US at 343 onsite clinics.

Amazon, which employs 75,000 workers in Seattle, sparked a backlash among some of them when it initially announced its plan in March for returning to the office.

One employee told Insider some of their colleagues had complained internally and were considering leaving if Amazon forces them to return to offices.

“We recognize this is an unprecedented time,” the memo said. “We’re all figuring out how work will keep evolving and what will be best for customers, our teams, and individual employees.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Airbnb will pay for 12 people and their families to live like nomads and travel for a year as it tries to attract more longer-term renters. Here’s how to apply.

Airbnb live anywhere contest man in treehouse
  • Airbnb is selecting 12 people to travel for a year and live in Airbnbs for free.
  • Participants will share their experience with Airbnb to inform future product decisions.
  • Anyone interested in being selected can apply online. The program begins this July.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Airbnb wants to pay 12 people to live the life of a nomad for one year.

The home-sharing company announced Wednesday a new program called “Live Anywhere on Airbnb.” It will choose a dozen people to live in Airbnb listings for free for a year – in exchange, guests will share their experience with Airbnb to help inform the company’s future product decisions around nomadic living.

Airbnb’s program will officially kick off in July, and those who are selected will spend a total of 10 months traveling, beginning in September. Guests will be allowed to bring up to three companions when they travel.

Read more: I moved to an island paradise to use a village for ‘digital nomads’ that just opened. Here’s what it’s been like.

Airbnb will grant participants anywhere from $12,000 to $24,000 Airbnb credits for the first five months, depending on how many guests they want to travel with. If participants opt to stick with the program, they’ll receive another chunk of Airbnb credits for an additional five months of travel.

Participants will also receive a transportation stipend of up to $12,000, depending on the number of travel companions.

An Airbnb spokesperson told Insider that participants will be able to travel anywhere in the world – depending on local COVID restrictions – and that “the goal of the program is to inform the future of living, not just traveling on Airbnb.” To that end, participants will be encouraged to design their own travel and choose their own locations and durations of stay.

Airbnb will accept applications for the program from Wednesday through June 30. For those interested in living anywhere for a year, here’s how the selection process works:

1. Hopeful participants can apply on Airbnb’s website.

Applicants will have to fill out a series of questions and complete essay prompts about why they’re excited to live nomadically and how they’re currently exploring new ways of living and working.

2. A panel of reviewers will evaluate the applications.

The panel will select the top 20 finalists based on criteria like passion for the program, creativity and individuality, and excitement for sharing their experience during the program, plus thorough examples of how they’d document their experience.

Finalists will be notified they’ve been selected by July 5.

3. Finalists will submit a two-minute video.

The video will need to explain why applicants want to live in Airbnbs for a year and what excites them most about helping to inform the future of Airbnb.

The video must be submitted by July 9. Finalists must also consent to a background check.

4. Finalists will be interviewed by Airbnb’s review panel.

They’ll be asked about their application and the program itself, and the interviews and submitted videos will be scored by the review panel.

5. Winners will be selected by July 19.

Winners will have to consent to taking part in publicity surrounding the program and will have to participate in information sessions in July and August where they’ll learn more about Airbnb’s expectations, learn from travel experts, and walk through their own travel plans.

The program is open to anyone age 18 and over from a select group of countries. Entrants must have a passport that’s valid until February 2023 and must be able to speak conversational English.

Airbnb’s new program comes after long-term stays increased during the pandemic. According to the company’s travel report, published in May, long-term stays jumped 10% in the first quarter compared 2019, with 11% of those guests reporting that they live a “nomadic lifestyle.”

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said last year that the company wants to continue to carve out a piece of the longer-term rental market, despite its roots as a short-term rental company. Going forward, people will plan more stays that last weeks on end, which Chesky told Skift CEO Rafat Ali he sees as distinct from the travel market.

“I think one thing you’re going to see is that a huge percentage of the accommodations business going forward will not be limited to travel,” Chesky said.

Airbnb went public last December. The company beat Wall Street expectations for its first-quarter earnings, an early sign that the travel industry could skyrocket post-pandemic.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best kind of music for improving your work productivity, according to a psychotherapist

Listening to computer with headphones
Listening to specific music while working from home can make you more productive.

If you struggle to be productive while working from home, you’re not alone. Staring at a laptop in silence makes it harder to stay on task than you might think.

In the absence of coworkers, you might turn down the rabbit hole of social media for a little human interaction, where scrolling can easily waste countless hours of your time. Or maybe you turn on the TV for a little background noise only to find yourself engrossed in a talk show for a solid hour.

So while silence can be problematic, filling the void can be a distraction. Fortunately, turning on a little background music might be the solution to improving your productivity.

But not just any music will do. Listen to the songs that help you feel happy, and you’ll get more work done in less time.

The link between music, happiness, and performance

Music is a great tool for regulating your emotions. The songs you listen to have the power to boost your mood, calm you down, or pump you up.

That’s why music became a lifeline for so many people during the COVID pandemic. Our recent survey at Verywell Mind found that 79% of people turned to music to cope with the stress of the pandemic. (Many of them were likely working from home.)

It makes sense that so many people rely on music to regulate their emotions. Research has also discovered that intentionally listening to happy music can have a profound impact on your happiness level. A 2012 study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to happy music became happier people within just two weeks.

And it’s no secret that happy people are productive people. Researchers have long since known this. In fact, a 2019 study conducted by the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School set out to study how much happiness matters. They discovered that happy people tend to be 13% more productive.

So it makes sense that listening to happy music makes you happy. And when you feel happy, you work better. But that’s not the end of the story.

Listening to music while you’re focused on something else (like writing a report) might also improve your performance. A 2014 study found that listening to upbeat background music improved the brain’s processing speed and bolstered memory in older adults.

And while both upbeat and downbeat music showed memory benefits, processing speed improvements were only present when people listened to upbeat music. So this reinforces the idea that happy songs could be the key to enhanced performance.

Happy music is tough to find

You’ll likely find it’s easy to recall plenty of songs with sad melodies and angry lyrics. But spend a minute trying to recall happy songs, and you might draw a blank. That’s because upbeat songs are in short supply.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies found that music lyrics have become increasingly sad and angry over the past 50 years. And listening to sad or angry music may have a negative impact on your mood or performance.

So it’s important to be intentional about the music you play while you work. Commit to listening to upbeat music so you can be more productive.

A happy playlist

Rather than spend hours looking for upbeat songs – we thought we’d supply you with a great playlist that might help you feel happier and make you more productive right away.

While my expertise is in helping people feel happier, song recommendations are a bit outside my wheelhouse. Fortunately, however, I have a resident expert on staff.

The producer of The Verywell Mind Podcast, Nick Valentin, is an amazing audio engineer. When he’s not working with me, he records musicians like Pharrell Williams, Marc Anthony, and Sean Combs (a.k.a Puff Daddy or Diddy). So I asked for his input on the happiest songs he knows. (And it just so happens that he even worked on the album that tops our list.)

Here are 10 songs that can make you feel happier and be more productive when you’re working from home:

  1. “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire
  2. “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
  3. “Uptown Funk” by Mark Bronson and Bruno Mars
  4. “ABC” by The Jackson 5
  5. “O-o-h Child” by The Five Stairsteps
  6. “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys
  7. “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown
  8. “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
  9. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
  10. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Turn on the background music

Experiment a bit with background music to figure out what helps you stay most productive. You might find listening to the same song over and over again actually helps you stay on task best. Or you might discover upbeat, instrumental music helps you stay focused.

Try a few experiments, and you’ll learn how to use background music to your advantage when you’re working from home.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Working mothers could face more negative effects from hybrid work models than their single male counterparts. Experts say the solution is to make remote work the default.

Mother working from home with child
A child plays while his mother works remotely.

  • Partial remote work could create a two-class system where workers in the office are rewarded.
  • This system could benefit unattached men and harm working mothers who need flexibility.
  • Experts say the solution is to make remote work the norm, not the exception.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In some form or another, remote work is here to stay.

While some US workers are adamant that they’ll never return to an office, others just want flexibility – the option to stay at home when they want to and come into work when they need to. In corporate America, this has been dubbed a hybrid model of working, and everyone from Google CEO Sundar Pichai to JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon have decreed that their companies will adopt a new, flexible way of working.

On the surface, this type of flexibility will be crucial for workers whose lives no longer revolve around commuting five days per week, or for working parents who need to adjust their schedules to support childcare duties.

But experts warn that there could be a hidden downside to hybrid models of working if employers don’t handle it properly – one that could harm the careers of working mothers, and hamper diversity efforts for years to come.

A two-class system

Zillow CEO Rich Barton was one of the first executives to publicly question what flexible working arrangements could mean for workers. While Zillow has fully embraced the hybrid model of work, Barton has voiced concerns about the challenges his team could face.

“We must ensure a level playing field for all team members, regardless of their physical location,” he said during the online real estate company’s fourth-quarter earnings call in February. “There cannot be a two-class system – those in the room being first-class and those on the phone being second-class.”

Bhaskar Chakravorti, dean of global business at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, told Insider that he’s worried about a hybrid future because of the impacts it could have on employee morale, diversity, and company culture.

“Frankly, I think it’s unsustainable to have a gigantic headquarters and then a whole bunch of people dispersed around the country, around the world, and expecting that the dispersed community is going to feel equal to the ones who are at the headquarters,” he said.

Unless companies make substantive changes now to hire more women and people of color and to support people who require flexibility, he said, company culture, particularly in tech, could easily become a sea of homogeneity: mainly white, unattached males who are willing and able to commute into an office every day.

Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University economist who’s an expert on remote work, took it one step further. In an interview with Bloomberg’s Olivia Rockeman published this week, Bloom warned that this system could lead to at-home workers missing out on promotions to their peers who show up to the office, which could eventually lead to a diversity crisis in six to seven years and “a legal minefield of quite justifiable lawsuits.”

According to a survey of over 1,000 US workers from employee analytics firm Perceptyx, four out of 10 employees who work remotely at least part of the time said they felt impacted by a “perceived absence” from the office compared to their peers who reported to work every day. They reported feeling like their work was evaluated less often, they received less recognition, and they were less likely to receive a raise or promotion than their peers.

And according to Bloom, the population that chooses to stay home most of the time will not be random going forward.

“For people with children under the age of 12, you find almost 50% more women than men choose to work from home five days a week,” Bloom told Bloomberg.

Women have already been beaten down by the pandemic, economically speaking

A report from the International Labour Organization from January found that women, as well as younger workers, experienced the greatest employment losses during the last year. Last September, nearly 900,000 women reported that they were no longer employed, compared to 216,000 men who said the same.

A survey by McKinsey and Co. from last fall found that that one out of every four working women was considering scaling back their hours or leaving the workforce altogether, citing the challenge of juggling their work with childcare and other household tasks.

Read more: We’ve failed working mothers (again). This is how we build a better world for them.

Now that life is slowly returning to normal, women – who are more likely to shoulder the childcare burden – will require the flexibility to stay home a few days per week or adjust their hours to handle pick-up from school or daycare. This flexible future should be a blessing. But over time, inequity could rear its head, said Raafi Alidina, a consultant for diversity and inclusion consultancy Frost Included.

Alidina said he’s worried the hybrid model could also change the behavior of the employees who feel they need to keep up with their colleagues.

“You’ll end up having the people at home, noticing that they’re being treated as second-class and they’ll either leave [their job] or they’ll try to come back to work like they used to, they’ll try to go to the office,” he said. “And when they do go to the office, they won’t be at their best because they’ll be thinking, ‘Oh, I wish I could be at home with my kid,’ or they just won’t be able to work the way that works for their lives best.”

He added: “You’re not going to get the best version of them as a worker, you’re not gonna get the most productive version of them.”

Make remote work the norm, not the exception

So what’s the solution?

Alidina said there are a few ways to curb the rise of a two-class system. One way is to be proactive about helping employees feel connected to their workplace by driving home the value and importance of their work – and explaining how all employees are connected to their workplace, regardless of where they are.

He said companies also need to make employee recognition a priority, and ensure that that recognition is inclusive of every role.

“The accomplishments that you’ll feel are worth touting are going to be based on your own biases,” he said. “Credit isn’t always given as often or as easily to people of color, people with disabilities, and other members of marginalized groups.”

And finally, it’s all about how a company messages the work arrangement to employees. Rather than asking workers to request remote work, make remote work the default – and make managers justify why an employee needs to report to the office.

“It’s the same kind of thing that needs to happen for any kind of inclusion: If you’re the person who has more power and privilege in society, it’s your job to adapt to to help that other person feel like they can be their entire selves,” he said. “It’s the same way with managers the people who report them.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

How leaders can better support their burned out Gen Z staffers, according to a psychotherapist

Gen Z worker
Gen Z workers have reported mental health challenges during the pandemic.

You might expect older generations to be the most stressed out from the pandemic. After all, COVID put them at the highest risk for serious illness or even death. But it turns out, Gen Z may be experiencing the greatest mental health challenges right now.

Despite being digital natives who are used to working online, the under-24 crowd has experienced significant psychological distress during lockdown. Consequently, younger workers may need more support than employers anticipate.

A large chunk of their time in the workplace has been spent staring at their digital devices. Integrating into the workplace – or reintegrating – may be a little more difficult for them since they have a lot less experience than older generations.

Research shows work and money are the biggest stressors

At Verywell Mind, we began researching the state of mental health in America last month, and are reporting on the shifts and trends we’re witnessing over time.

Findings from our first survey indicate that Gen Z respondents are the most stressed out generation right now, and their biggest sources of stress are work and money.

Gen Zers who responded to our survey also reported more symptoms of depression, such as difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, and feelings of hopelessness.

Given their psychological distress, it’s important for employers to provide some much needed support. As these young workers finish their education and step into the working world, a little extra attention could go a long way toward helping our future leaders.

Provide stress management resources

Gen Z is just learning about the workplace. And their view of work is skewed since many of them entered the workforce during the pandemic.

Provide ongoing information about stress management. Whether that means having more conversations about this during one-on-one private meetings or it means offering free classes that teach skills, like yoga or meditation, incorporate stress management strategies into the workplace.

Gen Zers could also likely benefit from information on work/life balance (daily life and busyness was the third biggest source of stress). Many of them have been working remotely during the pandemic which may make finding balance tough. Educating them on how to set boundaries with work so they can enjoy free time can go a long way toward preventing burnout.

Give ongoing mental health support

Despite the higher rates of distress, our survey showed that Gen Z respondents were less likely to say that society would be better off if more people saw a therapist. They’re also concerned about the stigma associated with therapy.

Ongoing conversations about mental health in the workplace, however, could change that.

Offering an EAP might make therapy more accessible to them since they’re more likely to be strapped for money for therapy.

Bring therapists into the office to provide occasional workshops or informational sessions. This may teach them about mental health issues, local resources, and ways to get help.

They may benefit from learning about how to build mental strength, improve their emotional intelligence, and address workplace issues in a healthy way.

Offer financial incentives and clear opportunities for advancement

Since Gen Z workers are most worried about work and their financial futures, provide clear opportunities for advancement. If they understand what’s available to them and how to get there, they are likely to feel more secure in the workplace, as well.

Additionally, they may be very motivated by financial incentives. Offer financial incentives for reaching their goals or exceeding their expectations.

When you help them reduce their distress and improve their mental health, you’ll be improving their lives. You’ll also help free up their mental energy to focus more on work and worry less about their financial security.

Read the original article on Business Insider

CEO of Logitech shares plans for returning to the office, addressing racism and climate change

Bracken Darrell, President and CEO of Logitech
  • Logitech’s tools and accessories played a major role in the global shift to remote work last year.
  • Bracken Darrell, president and CEO of Logitech, told Insider about the process of moving and supporting employees during the transition.
  • Darrell also shared why he feels it’s important to address racism and bias, and climate change moving forward.
  • This article is part of a series about CEOs and their vision for the future called “What’s Next.”

Logitech is one of the largest consumer electronics companies and saw huge success in 2020 with the increased demand for computer tools and accessories to help with the global shift to remote work.

Before joining Logitech in 2012 as president of the company, Darrell led Whirlpool, Procter & Gamble, and General Electric. He added CEO of Logitech to his title in January 2013.

Darrell spoke to Insider about how he ushered Logitech into remote work in 2020 and the company’s return-to-the-office plans for the coming months as the number of administered COVID-19 vaccinations increases. He also spoke on his initiatives around sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

This interview is lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Insider: How did you and your teams handle office closures at the beginning of the pandemic? And what types of support were offered to employees to help the transition to working from home?
Darrell: I’d say in the first stage, like everybody else, we tried to give people enough space where we pulled back a lot on the workload because we just didn’t know what was going to happen. We really tried to reduce the workload, and we thought ‘There’s going to be a big learning curve.’

The second thing we started to do was, and this was more informal and probably happened over time, we tried to make fun and laugh about the surprises that happened on video. I have a 19-year-old cat and he began to appear regularly on video. And people’s kids were on video-we just tried to make light of that.

Then we realized, as time went on, people didn’t really have the equipment they needed. So we created a program where… you could go out and buy or order whatever you needed. I think it was $500 and we raised it [over time].

And then we started to see the mental health thing really kick in and people were just stressed. They were stressed and feeling overworked because they were working longer hours. So, we started doing no meetings on Fridays. And then we added one day a month where we gave everybody the day off and we’ve done that ever since. We call them “Logi-Mondays.”

We just keep adding stuff that we think makes sense.

We have one big advantage which is it’s been really rewarding for people that work here because our products played such an important role during the pandemic for students and educators, patients and doctors.

Insider: Are you planning on going back to the office anytime soon?
Darrell: I think we’ll reopen. If I go around the world, we have offices that are already open and have never closed even. But in terms of most of our offices in the US and Europe, we will start to open up in July and then slowly, I’ll be in there too.

We’ll open up like everybody else will, I think we’ll probably have two or three days a week in the office and two or three days a week working remotely, and then we’ll see.

Insider: Is this something Logitech is planning on doing permanently? Allowing employees to build their own schedules of in-office work and at-home work?
Darrell: I was reading Sundar Pichai’s note at Google and thinking that’s pretty much what I think everybody’s doing. Most companies are basically saying, ‘Okay, here’s the framework.’ You know we got some people who are going to work remotely all the time and we’ve always had people who did that-salespeople, some coders, other people. We have another group that is going to be that ‘have to be in the office to do their jobs’-some hardware engineers just don’t have a choice. And then the vast majority are going to be two or three days in and two or three days out.

I think we’ll try to kind of herd everybody into the same two or three days so it feels like a normal office when you’re in. You can bump into people or ideate with people.

But we’re going to wait and see how it goes. I think we’re going to be very flexible.

Insider: Educating the next generation is important, but how does Logitech plan on educating its current employees?
Darrell: I think if you talk to the average employee at Logitech, you get a slightly orthogonal answer to that which is we do have training programs and we try to help people grow. We try to give people freedom-the freedom to do new things and do things a different way.

And it shows up in our internal surveys, we really stand out in that regard, so we’re less about trying to teach people new skills and more about letting people learn new things on their own by giving them new responsibilities or letting them take on responsibilities that are around them. It might sound a little nebulous, but it’s one of the things I’m most proud of in our culture.

Insider: Switching gears a bit. In the weeks after the summer protests broke out, you did a post on LinkedIn sharing how Logitech would address racism and bias. Why was it important for you as the leader of the company to say something?
Darrell: This story is a little longer than you signed up for but I feel like I need to tell it to answer your question.

I grew up in the south with very progressive parents. My mom was as anti-racist as you could be in the time when I was growing up. She was amazing. So we really grew up feeling like we were some of the good guys-my brothers and sister, and I, we were really on the right side of all this and not only this but just generally with LGBTQ [as well].

When George Floyd was killed, it took me a couple of days… I found myself at my kitchen table where I worked every day, just thinking about South Africa and what people were doing then and I don’t know why I started thinking about South Africa. You know, they were sitting there in the middle of apartheid and why didn’t those people speak up? And then I really realized that we’re sitting in American apartheid and I haven’t spoken out. That was incredibly powerful, more for me because I have a platform. I write on LinkedIn and people read it, I have lots of followers.

It was like getting hit in the head with a frying pan, but the pain never went away and it shouldn’t so I immediately started calling friends and apologizing. I just didn’t realize what I’d done, and then it actually changed the direction of my life. I was like ‘Wow.’ I know who I thought I was, but if I’m not doing something… That was the beginning of my very aggressive path to where we are now as an individual and as a company.

Insider: In that same letter, you talked about supporting communities and minoritized groups. What do those actions look like now?
Darrell: We’ve really recentered our whole purpose against these two things which is one we’re already doing and this one we thought we were doing, but we weren’t.

One of them is the environment and the other one is diversity, equity, and inclusion. DEI became a central part of our purpose which was to enable all people to pursue their passions. So that’s been our purpose, but [now,] all people.

Part of the Juneteenth letter is really an explanation of how we’re taking an end-to-end approach from our suppliers’ suppliers, through our suppliers. We have as part of our diversity program through our own company-up and down the company-pay, promotion, everything, all the way through to customer experience and who we target and how we enable it.

That’s where we’ve been and it’s obviously a long-term thing. I want to be held accountable personally and as a company. And I want people to track exactly what we’ve committed and we’ll come back on a regular basis.

And if I’m not doing it and we’re not getting it done [rapidly], I should be fired.

We’re the same on the environment. We’re way ahead on the environment compared to where we are in the US, and we’re making up a lot of ground right now.

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High-earning Americans drove 2020’s migration boom, and it shows how wealth is splitting the millennial generation

High-earners were most likely to move and buy a house in 2020.

Americans stopped moving around the 1980s, but that changed last year with remote work.

A new Apartment List report that surveyed 5,000 Americans and analyzed US Census data has confirmed the migration narrative of 2020: Remote work ignited a residential migration rebound as the number of movers increased by 14% to 16% from 2019 to 2020 – it was the first US migration increase in over a decade.

This has big implications for millennial homebuying in particular and wealth inequality in general. The ApartmentList data shows the migrants were largely high-income, meaning that migration was K-shaped, just like the uneven economy born by the coronavirus pandemic. With migration has come a boom in homebuying, and millennials have taken the lead in homebuying, with high-net-worth millennials at the top of the K.

Although the study doesn’t break down generational data, millennials likely comprise many of the high-income households, defined as those earning over $150,000. A previous Apartment List report revealed that the millennial homeownership rate climbed to 47.9% from 40% just three years ago. Many of these millennial homebuyers were likely the same as the 16% of high-income workers that moved over the past year, a 39% jump from the Census Bureau’s estimate of American migrants in 2019.

This marks a sharp contrast from the past decade, in which lower-income workers led migration patterns. Low-income households moved during the migration boom as well, per the report, but the high-income group is more likely to work in flexible jobs. They’ve taken advantage of remote work to move across the country in search of more space and more affordable housing.

Apartment List also found that high-income workers were twice as likely to purchase a home as low-income workers, which dovetails with millennials reaching peak homebuying age during the pandemic and leading the housing recovery. Historically low interest rates made more types of homes viable for the generation, at least for those who had enough money saved to win out bidding wars in a cutthroat market.

Other millennials were priced out as housing prices reached record highs, while others still couldn’t even fathom becoming homeowners. Many moved back home with their parents during the pandemic, either temporarily or permanently. According to a Pew Research Center report, 52% of young adults lived with at least one of their parents as of July 2020, topping the last high of 48% many decades ago, in 1940.

The millennial wealth gap

This migration divide exemplifies the intragenerational millennial wealth gap, which has widened during the pandemic. Such millennial inequality dates back to the Great Recession, with wealthier millennials faring well while their low-earning peers are struggling.

The affordability crisis millennials were already facing prepandemic has left some with little wealth to fall back on as they experience unemployment and other hardships during the coronavirus recession, causing some to move back in with their parents. But a smaller, higher-earning group with stable income has been able to save, invest, and even buy homes with extra money they would otherwise spend in non-pandemic times.

Millennials are experiencing their own K-shaped recovery, uniquely compounded by two recessions. Generational researcher Jason Dorsey, the president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, previously told Insider this could lead to an unequal recovery between these two groups, with those those who lost a job recovering longer than those who began the pandemic with a better financial backstop.

This uneven rebound might have an effect on migration as well. As the report concludes, continuing migration patterns could further redistribute wealth away from the country’s biggest and priciest cities.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I moved from NYC to rural Vermont and had to figure out how to get a strong, high-quality internet connection on my own. I tried it all – here’s what works.

Alex Lockie
Working off my phone’s hotspot. The black box with the green light on the wall near the guitar is a component of the WeBoost system.

  • Alex Lockie recently moved out of New York City into a home in rural southern Vermont.
  • He had to test out how to establish a strong internet connection to be able to work from home.
  • From satellite internet, to boosting cell phone signal, to jimmying together some wild antenna rigs, he’s seen or tried just about everything.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Great news: In 2021, it’s technically and professionally possible to work remotely from just about any address in the US – as long as you have good internet service.

But what if you don’t?

About 19 million Americans lack access to the internet at broadband speeds, with 14.5 million of them living in rural areas.

Your dream house in the country might not have good internet options unless you get a little creative. As someone who just went through the struggle of establishing a work-from-home quality connection in a rural place with no wired internet or cell phone signal, I can tell you that troubleshooting a connection in the sticks is difficult, but ultimately doable.

From old faithful satellite internet, to boosting cell phone signal, to jimmying together some wild antenna rigs, I’ve seen or tried just about everything.

Here’s how to establish a work-from-homeable internet connection from any address in the union.

Satellite internet, a gift and a curse

Alex Lockie
My satellite internet dish. It’s big, it’s ugly, but it’s professionally installed and not going anywhere.

Satellite internet will work from just about anywhere. Providers like Hughes Net and Viasat provide speeds of up to 25 mbps on downloads and 3 mbps for uploads. This is about 80% lower than the average speed across the US, which sits at around 120 mbps. Big downloads can take a while, but for web browsing and sending and receiving moderate amounts of data, it’ll do. Also, Hughes Net or Viasat can probably get a technician out to install the dish on your house within five business days. Satellite internet is almost a one-punch knockout as far as rural connections go … almost.

Because your data is flying to a satellite dish and back, there’s a noticeable .7 to .9 of a second of latency with satellite internet. Prepare to be even more annoying on Zoom calls than you ever thought possible. Also, satellite internet providers usually have a soft data cap, after which you’ll have to pay about $3 a GB extra. Finally, satellite internet gets worse with the weather; snow, clouds, rain and storms will all hurt performance.

Satellite internet costs about $70 to $150 a month depending on the provider and how much data you use, plus an install or equipment rental cost that can get up to $400. But, because satellite internet makes you sound awful on calls and can drop out at any time due to weather, you’ll need to augment your connection.

There’s a small chance that Elon Musk has already saved you, or is about to

Alex Lockie
Starlink is great – if you can get it.

In my case, my internet woes just about ended when I was selected for the Starlink beta test. Starlink, which is internet service from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is satellite internet that relies on tons of tiny satellites orbiting closer to earth, so there’s no noticeable lag or data caps.

Starlink is a slam dunk, but it’s only beta testing in the very northern part of the US. For now, there’s not much you can do besides sign up for the beta and hope.

Without latency-free internet, you’ll need to find a way to augment your satellite internet connection with landlines or cell signal.

How to measure a home’s cell signal

Alex Lockie/Screenshot: Cell Mapper
Map of cell coverage outside of Brattleboro, Vermont. The dots represent cell towers, the green represents good service, and the red represents bad service.

If the home has strong data service filling the bars on your cell phone, then congrats: Major cell phone providers have hotspot devices and data plans that will hook you up for good.

But say you want to work from a house where your phone gets zero bars and doesn’t say “LTE” or “3G” or “4G” in the corner. Then what?

Luckily, there are still products for you, but they’re a little more off the beaten path. You’re going to need a cell phone signal booster, and the best way to determine which is to do a field test.

SignalBoosters, a company that sells cell phone signal boosting kits, has published a really good guide to measuring cell phone signal with your smartphone. Basically, via Android apps or going deep into the settings of your iPhone, you can get a look your signal measured in “decibels,” which is much more accurate than reading the bars.

A great cell phone signal measures in at about -50 decibels. Awful or nonexistent cell phone signal comes in at about -120, and it starts getting pretty unusable around -90.

How to boost a cell phone signal

Alex Lockie
From top to bottom: WeBoost Installed Home Complete directional antenna, previous owner’s satellite TV dish, and our Hughes Net dish.

If your signal is just a bit weak, products like Unlimitedville promise a hassle-free experience for users. Unlimitedville sells users a small MoFi box that amplifies incoming cell signals and turns it into a usable WiFi network like any other. I tried Unlimitedville and found the MoFi box severely underpowered, and the $249 monthly bill to be astronomical.

Frankly, you’re better off buying your own cell signal booster and working out the data costs with your carrier.

My signal was really weak, so I bought the WeBoost Installed Home Complete, the only commercial cell signal booster that comes with a professional install included, for about $1,200. The system can jack up cell signal by up to 72 decibels and provide an area of up to 7,500 sq feet with boosted cell service by using an outdoor directional antenna pointed at the nearest cell tower and an indoor amplifier.

Ultimately, even the big dog booster didn’t completely solve my problems. I get 2-3 bars and some choppy data and voice calls. I plan to raise the antenna up on a 10 foot pole to increase the range and make my house look even more ridiculous.

About 99% of the country has access to at least 3 mbps of data service via a nearby cell tower, so while boosting cell signal isn’t a perfect option, it’s a ubiquitous one. Almost anyone can do this.

You might not be able to solely work off your phone’s data, but you can use the data to answer some work emails, let your colleagues know you might be late to a meeting later, or look up the Zoom dial-in number before your big interview.

How to work off cell signal

Alex Lockie
Working off my phone’s hotspot. The black box with the green light on the wall near the guitar is a component of the WeBoost system.

If you successfully boost your cell phone signal to a workable level, you may not be out of the woods yet.

Even an “unlimited data” plan from a major provider may have some restrictions on “tethering,” or using a cell phone’s data connection to connect another device to the internet. Many carriers won’t let you use more than 5 or 10 GB of data a month over a tethered device.

Luckily, major carriers now offer devices and plans to accommodate large data asks from devices besides the handset you have under contract. Verizon’s plan costs $40-$60.

Or, if you want to avoid changing your data plan, get smart about data usage. 10 GB of data can go a long way if you use it wisely. Instead of tethering a device like a smart TV to a cell phone to watch Netflix for a few hours, simply play the Netflix app on your phone and cast your phone’s screen onto the TV. This will use the phone’s own data and not cut into your tethered data. The more you look for tricks like this, the more you will find.

Landlines and DSL

Alex Lockie
We keep a notebook with important numbers written down on the landline phone.

A solid phone line can make up for satellite internet’s bad lag time, and it’s relatively easy to get. Telephone wires are more common than broadband cable on many power lines in rural America. At our address, we’re also eligible for a 3 mbps DSL connection from our phone provider for $30 a month.

The 3 mbps number seems a bit sad, but our neighbor uses it to check his email and even do some low-resolution Zoom calls for work. Because DSL uses a wired connection, it has no lag, making it a solid compliment to satellite internet connections.

But with a landline, you may not even need DSL.

We keep a notebook with important numbers written down on the landline phone. Even if the power goes out, I can look up my boss’ number and keep him in the loop.

Beg, borrow, appeal

Alex Lockie
WiFi antennas can send signal up to 8 miles away.

If your neighbors have good internet service and you don’t, you can always proposition them to set up an antenna that beams connectivity to your house. Obviously you’d ask nicely and offer to pay, because this method works.

Long-range WiFi antennas can send signal up to 8 miles away, and it’s relatively lossless.

Never give up

Workers hanging fiber optic cables in Brattleboro. Alex Lockie
Workers hanging fiber optic cables in Brattleboro.

If all else fails, find out what major internet service providers cover nearby areas and reach out to them. I called Xfinity to inquire about getting broadband to my house. To my surprise, they had trucks driving down my dirt road within a week. It turned out that despite my remote setting, houses just a few miles down the road had broadband and Xfinity was considering running the lines out my way.

Xfinity said I could pay about $30,000 to get connected or I could simply wait on state or federal funds to come through. There’s actually $10 billion in the recently passed American Rescue Plan to extend broadband to rural America, and many rural states have money set aside for this too.

Waiting for Xfinity could take years, but I was glad to have put in a request.

When I left NYC to live in the country, I never thought I’d be begging to deal with Xfinity again, but life is funny in that way.

Take it from me: Don’t let a bad internet connection stop you from living in a place that feels like home. Where there is a will, there’s a way – and the arc of history bends towards more WiFi.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Palm Beach County has around 44 billionaires. The super-rich are flocking there for business opportunities, convenient transport links, and a chance to live in ‘paradise.’

West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach is attractive for both workers and their families.

  • Palm Beach County’s grew twice as fast as the US average over the past decade.
  • This has accelerated during the pandemic as remote workers sought a sunnier climate during lockdown.
  • Three locals explained why both people and businesses are flocking to the county.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida has been one of the few states to see real economic progress during the pandemic.

Both businesses and companies have flocked to the US’ third-largest state over the past year because of its pro-business environment, including a lack of personal-income tax, alongside its sunny climate that made it an alluring place to spend lockdown.

And Palm Beach County, located just north of Miami, has stood out. Elliott Management is planning on moving its headquarters there, Citadel Securities based its trading-floor’s COVID-19 bubble at a hotel there, and hundreds of families have relocated to the county.

Read more: IBM is hunting for a smaller NYC office now that 80% of its employees won’t come in every day. It’s a sign of the times.

Insider spoke to parties involved in the local economy, including the mayors of Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Palm Beach town, to understand what’s driving people to move to the area.

‘We punch above our weight in terms of business strength’

Palm Beach County has been working to drive a migration of businesses for around 10 years, Kelly Smallridge, CEO of the county’s Business Development Board (BDB), told Insider.

West Palm Beach
The county is popular among boaters.

The county realized that executives were buying second houses or coming for vacations in Florida, but owned a large business in another state. So the BDB approached them about bringing their business to Florida, Smallridge said.

“That initiative has turned out to be the most lucrative economic development initiative in the last 40 years,” Smallridge said.

The BDB isn’t the only group actively recruiting businesses to move to the county. West Palm Beach mayor Keith James told Insider that the city had been reaching out to financial-services companies for years – not just in New York but in other Northeast states including Vermont and Connecticut, alongside some companies as far afield as California.

“We’ve seen tremendous interest in companies relocating to Boca Raton,” Scott Singer, the mayor of Boca Raton, told Insider.

He said the city had been fielding “plenty” of inbound calls, but that it had also launched targeted advertising in the New York, Chicago, and San Francisco markets, including promoting its technology business hub.

The three mayors told Insider they had especially noticed increasing levels of interest from venture capital, private equity, hedge fund, and financial-services companies, feeding into a state-wide trend.

360 rosemary related companies office building west palm beach
360 Rosemary, a new West Palm Beach office building under construction, is luring out-of-state financial firms including New Day as tenants.

Hedge fund Elliott Management is in final-stage talks to move its headquarters from Manhattan to West Palm Beach, while Maryland-based mortgage company New Day USA is leasing 50,000 square feet of office space as a second headquarters in the city.

And Ken Griffin’s Citadel Securities chose Palm Beach’s Four Seasons as the location for its trading floor’s COVID-19 bubble in April 2020.

Almost 2,500 financial-service firms have offices in the county, employing 37,000 people in total, according to the BDB.

But other industries are growing, too. West Palm Beach is targeting the marine and medical industries for future growth, while Singer said that Bacon Raton has been a tech hub for decades, noting that IBM developed the first personal computer there in 1981.

Palm Beach's marina
Palm Beach County’s 47 miles of coastline mean that its marine industry is booming.

Singer said Boca Raton had the number of corporate headquarters you’d expect from a city of four or five times its size. These include the headquarters of The Office Depot, ADT, and Bluegreen Vacations.

“We punch above our weight in terms of business strength,” Singer said.

ADT’s headquarters are located in Boca Raton.

The county also has a 350,000 square foot convention center with 19 meeting rooms for businesses to hold events, conferences, and trade shows.

Palm Beach County Convention Center
The county even has its own convention center.

Florida doesn’t have a personal-income tax but it has a variety of other business benefits, too, Troy McLellan, CEO of Boca Raton’s Chamber of Commerce, said.

He said Boca Raton has a “rich entrepreneurial environment” and “an ecosystem that supports business and entrepreneurs,” in part thanks to actions of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He also points to the collaboration between groups such as the Palm Beach’s BDB, the regional Chamber, and Enterprise Florida.

Boca Raton alone has three college campus that create a pipeline of intellectual capital for businesses relocating to the area, McLellan said.

Florida Atlantic University campus
Florida Atlantic University’s main campus is based in Boca Raton.

There are a lot of transport developments either in place or in the pipeline for Palm Beach County, too.

The county has an international airport, which more than six million passengers pass through each year. Even the most northern part of the county, Jupiter, is located just 90 minutes’ drive from Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports for a wider range of long-haul flights.

Boca Raton also has its own general aviation airport, while West Palm Beach is planning to launch a study into the feasibility of direct flights from the city to the Caribbean to benefit its marine sector.

And traveling from West Palm Beach to the rest of Florida is getting easier after it was connected to Miami through Brightline, a rail system with investments from Richard Branson’s Virgin, John Boyd of the Boyd Company said. The route will be expanded to include Orlando and its airport as well as Tampa, too.

Brightline train
The Brightline connect cities across southern Florida.

This transport network is luring both businesses and people to the county.

Singer said there had been “tremendous interest” from executives with businesses overseas, who wanted to open offices or even locate to Boca Raton because of its transport links. Meanwhile, West Palm Beach says it has “one of Florida’s most walkable central business districts,” reducing the need to commute.

People were already migrating – but the pandemic sped this up

Not only have businesses been moving to the county but people have flocked there, too.

Palm Beach County’s population grew by around 14.2% over the past decade, according to estimates from the US Census Bureau. This is almost double the rate of overall US population growth. Its population sits at around 1.5 million, making it Florida’s third-largest county by population and second-largest by size.

This growth isn’t just because of the natural population increases that you would expect over time. There has also been soaring rates of both domestic and international migration. The county’s net migration was around 11,500 in 2020, according to US Census Bureau estimates – compared to a net migration loss of 23,625 for New York County, which has a similar population.

West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach is a hotspot for for businesses and workers.

Florida is traditionally associated with retirees but McLellan said this trend seems to be fading as more and more families and young high-flyers move to the area.

Many of these migrants are coming from the Northeast. Around two in five people moving to Palm Beach County come from the New York City area, per a report by Unacast. But some also come from cities like Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, or even from countries like India and Brazil, Boyd said.

Forbes identifies Palm Beach County as Florida’s billionaire hub. The 2,600-square-mile county has around 44 billionaires, Smallridge said. This is roughly as many as there are in the entirety of Los Angeles, according to Wealth-X’s 2020 Billionaire Census, and includes Interactive Brokers founder Thomas Peterffy, hedge-fund manager David Tepper, and food-and-drink entrepreneur Jude Reyes, per Forbes.

It’s also the home of Mar-a-Lago, the US’s second-largest mansion, owned by former President Donald Trump.

Mar a Lago better
Former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is located in the county.

The county also has around 71,000 millionaire households, Smallridge said. Oracle Founder Larry Ellison recently bought an $80 million house in the county, though he plans to stay living in Hawaii full-time, and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger sold his house in Greenwich, Connecticut to move to Palm Beach.

Danielle Moore, the mayor of the town of Palm Beach, said it had a reputation as “the hometown of ‘captains of industry,'” which she said motivated even more people to move there.

People had already been migrating to the county before the pandemic but COVID-19 forced people to address their work-life balance, alongside the deterioration of office culture, the mayors said.

Alongside companies opening up offices in the city, the rise in remote working during the pandemic has led to digital nomads flocking to the county.

Moore said the town of Palm Beach was experiencing the lowest inventory of available homes “in decades,” and house prices across the county have gone up around 10% over the past year as more and more people relocate.

West Palm Beach housing
Housing in the area is in high demand.

Some of these people are incredibly wealthy. Sales of million-dollar single-family homes in Palm Beach County increased by more than 140% year over year, according to the 2021 Luxury Outlook report by Sotheby’s International Realty.

Florida has remained largely open during the pandemic compared to other states. This led to people choosing to make Florida their primary residence for the pandemic.

“People can work from anywhere, so why not work from paradise?” Singer said.

“That trend is likely to continue because the office environment of New York City is not what it was,” he said. He added that New York State was also hiking its taxes.

“When they were closed down, we had plenty of recreation space and great weather year-round, and people are understanding more and more that this is where they want to be,” he added.

West Palm Beach marina
Palm Beach County’s sunny climate lures people to the area.

Alongside retirees, Florida is also associated with seasonal residents who move to the state for the colder winter months, and Moore said that the town of Palm Beach’s population more than doubles during the peak season.

But when people relocated to Florida, many started enrolling their children at nearby schools, and soon found themselves settled down in the state, Smallridge said.

Palm Beach County’s median age is 43.6, “and that number is probably going to stay steady even as we all age because younger people are being born and coming here every day,” Singer said.

The climate has attracted people, too. The county has an average temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to 53 degrees Fahrenheit for New York State, hasn’t had snow since 1978, and has around 47 miles of coastline.

Palm Beach
Smallridge said that some of the county’s c-suite workers go for a swim before work.

“Most executives will go take a swim in the beach before they even go to work,” Smallridge said. “They never have to shovel snow and they don’t have to ride with the subway.”

But even as more people migrate to the county, some to work remotely while others to work for the companies opening new offices in the area, this trend is ultimately creating more employment opportunities for local residents, James said. He added that West Palm Beach has offered financial incentives to companies moving to the city based on the number of jobs they create, including expedited permit reviews and tax exemptions.

McLellan, meanwhile, said Boca Raton was trying to create a pipeline of future talent for businesses in the area, and that the Chamber was working to discourage residents from migrating away from the city.

Ultimately Palm Beach County is positioning itself as not just a major financial-services hub, but also a destination for families, young graduates, and high-flying execs to move to.

This is perhaps best summed up by West Palm Beach’s tagline: “business, life, balanced.”

Read the original article on Business Insider