David Heinemeier Hansson

July 26, 2023

Working remotely is a competitive hiring advantage again

As more and more companies, especially large ones, have started demanding remote workers return to the office, the competitive hiring advantage for remote-first companies is back. And it's even bigger than before the pandemic, now that so many workers have had a taste of what life can be like when you don't have to commute to the office. This is great news for smaller companies and startups in particular.

Let's face it, if you're trying to compete for talent with the likes of Google or Apple, you need all the help you can get, and these companies forcing everyone back into an office might just be your biggest lift. Because for quite a few people, working remotely or not has become the defining characteristic of a job. To the point where many remote workers won't even consider a position that involves a corporate office.

This is doubly so for workers who don't live in the few big cities, which most major tech companies settle in. For whom taking tech job with a big company that insists office attendance would require leaving life, family, and their preferred location behind. The world is full of wonderful, talented people who won't do this.

Right now job seekers might not have a choice, of course. After half a million tech workers got fired recently in the US, I'm sure the big tech companies aren't wanting for applicants – even if they force them into an office against their preference. But that won't last forever. Eventually the tech job market is going to tighten again.

Now don't take this the wrong way. I remain committed to the idea that it's actually good we see some bifurcation here. That some companies should double down on the office. But I'll admit a fair delight to the fact that this is mostly happening with older, bigger companies, and that it's granting an advantage to smaller, newer ones.

Remote work is an enabling technology, like free open-source software, which lowers the cost for new-company formation. Granting more entrepreneurs more opportunities to take on the stodgy establishment without the need for other people's money. Happy to see that turn back into an unfair advantage for the rebels!

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.