Enterprise hits and misses - the future of work takes shape as Salesforce and Spotify weigh in, retailers don't look back, and the AI skills gap remains

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed February 15, 2021
This week - remote work changes take on new permanence as more big employers change policies. AI skills gaps are debated, and supply chain weaknesses are evaluated. Your whiffs include a Zoom fail you might not have seen.


Lead story - the permanence of remote work changes the future of work itself

For a while now, we've been hearing a chorus of "flexible work is here to stay," with only a handful of "our workforce will be back at the office ASAP" contrarians.

But it seems like we've hit a different level of momentum. Consider Spotify's announcement that beyond the pandemic, employees can work from anywhere (yes, anywhere) - and still get paid New York or San Francisco wages.

Or take Stuart's Tech's towering challenge - if the future is Working From Home, what are we going to do with all those skyscrapers we bought?, wherein he outlines a permanent workforce plan from Salesforce - one that is notable for its specifics. Picking up from Stuart:

The company sees a tripartite post-COVID model for working:

  • Flex – When it’s safe to return to the office, most of employees around the globe will work flex, meaning they will be in the office 1-3 days per week for team collaboration, customer meetings, and presentations.
  • Fully Remote – Employees who don’t live near an office or have roles that don’t require an office, will work remotely full-time.
  • Office-based – The smallest population of the workforce will work from an office location 4-5 days per week, if their role requires it.

Stuart raises troubling questions, not least is the skyscrapers companies may abandon. Could those be converted into livable spaces, including low-income residencies? One can dream. Stuart concludes:

So who loses? Well, there is the ecosystem of people and businesses whose livings depend on the corporate skyscrapers, from building maintenance staff through cleaners to local cafes, bars and shops whose traffic relies on people piling out of an office at lunchtime or in the evenings. Then there are the building owners themselves...  Bottom line - striking the hybrid work model balance is going to be a challenge for many.

Readers know I'm not the most optimistic fellow - it's just not in my nature. But I see a huge upside here if we do this right. It comes in two flavors. One is the rural revitalization movement, as articulated on these pages by the CEO of Zoho, which could allow tech workers to redistribute and rejuvinate struggling communities. The next is the potential to transform urban areas - a topic Stuart addresses. Rather than the failed squander your life in traffic commuting model, those who want to work in cities actually live there. Could cities become livable again?

That leaves the unresolved problem of the young workforce - folks who need the professional contact and networking the most. No easy answers there, though I'd like to think localized co-working spaces could at least help.

Yes, we still have a pandemic slog ahead. But it doesn't hurt to take a breather from the COVID-19 endurance test, and consider a generational shift in workstyles ahead.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

A couple more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Derek pressed the question: With Biden as President, will the global digital tax impasse come to an end? Meanwhile, Kurt continued his analysis of Bitcoin's newfound enterprise legitimacy in Bitcoin goes mainstream - MicroStrategy event represents a seminal moment in cryptocurrency history.

Uncle Den's having second thoughts about his whole cloud thing. A couple weeks of migraine-inducing team account purgatory wading into cloud services management will do that to anyone: Friday rant - cloud services account management is a joke. Finally, I picked up my virtual event bullhorn again for another round of pitfalls and tips: The problem isn't event technology - events were already broken. We need creative event design.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top six:

Overworked businessman


So this article asks: "Are You Brave Enough to Eat 3D-Printed Steak?" - I'm not sure that's a pressing question at this juncture... I'm not going to repeat the infamous Zoom kitten incident here, but maybe you didn't spot this one:

I've been known to get a wee bit cranky when sorting my bloated email inbox:

I guess I'm not alone...  Google's marketing team can have a cruddy day sometimes too:

Finally, Showtime has announced a 90 minute documentary...  About "The Weeknd's Super Bowl LV halftime performance, which ran - 13 minutes." I hate locking myself into things, but if this documentary is successful, I may have to say farewell to Western Civilization. Fortunately, I think the odds are on my side this time. See you next week...

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. 'myPOV' is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Businessman Choosing Success or Failure Road © Creativa - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - Oracle, Workday, Zoho, Unit4 and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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