As the world prepares to embrace the new normalcy of life, a lot of companies have started allowing their employees to work from home to ensure their safety after the outbreak of COVID-19. This is especially true for organizations with computer programming, data science, artificial intelligence, engineering, and machine learning workforce. Implemented as a temporary solution, remote work is likely to become the normal way of keeping such businesses functional.
Most of the companies have always preferred hiring locally, requiring employees to stay in the local region even when allowing work from home. Due to this, individuals from different parts of the world migrate to locations that have more job opportunities such as Silicon Valley, New York City, Seattle, etc. As a result, such locations in the United States have become the technology innovation epicenters. For example, the presence of the top software engineering talent has fueled the startup gold rush era in California and has enabled the tech giants like Google, Facebook, Cisco, etc. to grow extraordinarily. But, with the creation of the new at-home economy, the local hiring structure is undergoing a once-in-a-lifetime transition.
Remote work isn’t a new concept. Companies have been including work from home policies in their business systems for several years. Earlier, remote work options were provided infrequently and were restricted to once or twice a week. However, with the ongoing circumstances, companies are framing new remote work policies. As a matter of fact, several tech giants have already started announcing their plans about adopting the work from home policies permanently. Twitter announced that its employees can work from home indefinitely. Facebook has announced that it will have 50% of its workforce operating remotely by 2030. Google has also revealed that the majority of its employees will work from home for the remainder of the current calendar year. 90% of Morgan Stanley’s 80,000 employees are currently working from home; James Gorman, the CEO, sees a future where a part of every month for a lot of our employees will be at home. Similarly, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet has said that remote working is here to stay.
Remote work doesn’t apply to all job fields but jobs that involve working with finance, technology, or jobs that can be done with the use of computers and an internet connection.
Within the technology field, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a progressive field that is widely considered as the job skill of the future. With more and more businesses realizing the power of AI in different industries, we are at the threshold of experiencing an AI and Data revolution. Being able to work remotely has created endless work opportunities in every field including AI. But, among all industries, Information Technology and AI have the maximum remote work feasibility. In fact, the adoption of AI may increase due to remote work capability. With no location barriers, recruiters will be able to hire more talented AI professionals who have been unwilling to relocate. Besides opportunities for experienced professionals like AI software engineers, data scientists, computer vision engineers, etc., it will also have entry-level job opportunities for freshers or professionals looking for a career change. Additionally, there will also be drastic growth in educational AI opportunities as more people will be eager to upgrade their skills to keep pace with the AI and Data revolution.
With companies looking for ways to adopt AI in simplification of business processes and operations, opportunities in this field are only going to increase with remote work adoption. Interestingly, companies will need the help of AI and Data tools to manage remote employees efficiently.
Remote work in AI will remove the location restrictions, thus, allowing the AI talent across the world to work without having to relocate to other AI tech center locations. Hence, this will create an opportunity for companies to build AI tech centers wherever AI talent is. Most likely, these new hubs will be created in regions where there is AI talent coming out of top universities such as MIT, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, etc. These university graduates would not be required to relocate to the West Coast to land a job of their interest. Instead, they would be able to stay in their local region or hometown and still get hired by top-notch employers.
A lot of talented people give up on their dream jobs or career opportunities when asked to relocate to the job location. This will not be the case anymore as talented and capable individuals will get to join their dream companies while staying in their region. So, companies will be able to recruit the right candidates without thinking about location constraints.
With time, the world will experience the decentralization of AI talent, thus, increasing the scope of the field by manifold.
Some companies are allowing remote employees to work from towns only within 4-5 hours of driving distance from existing technology hubs like Silicon Valley or NYC. The reasoning for this may be to bring employees to the campus once a week for in-person meetings. As a result, new townships will be built in these relatively inexpensive places, which will eventually de-stress the urban areas. Remote work trends may redefine how city hubs will be restructured in terms of public infrastructure and other resources. A new hub-and-spoke city model may emerge where an existing hub will be connected to several spokes within a few hours of driving distance. As an example, Facebook has already announced that it will prefer hiring in places within four hours of driving distance from its major tech hubs in the US.
In addition, there are several added benefits to the hub-and-spoke model for regions. New AI hubs in distant locations will allow urban areas to breathe. With fewer vehicles on the road for the work commute, there will be a drop in traffic congestion, air pollution, and noise pollution. When people will save their travel time, they will have more time and energy to invest in their jobs. Furthermore, the remote work setup is also likely to help in reducing poverty, improving healthcare, etc.
Remote work does have its perks but it also affects the mental health of individuals. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is concerned about the consequences of remote work. He expresses his concern while saying, “What does burnout look like? What does mental health look like? What does that connectivity and the community building look like? One of the things I feel is, hey, maybe we are burning some of the social capital we built up in this phase where we are all working remotely. What’s the measure for that?”
While some may disagree with this notion, there are chances that remote work might affect employees’ mental health in one way or the other. AI may be needed here. AI has shown exceptional results in mental health care. With the help of AI solutions, healthcare professionals can diagnose and treat mental illness efficiently. Smart AI algorithms combined with machine learning help in the detection of mental illness traits. AI-based chatbots help humans to communicate about their life issues without any hesitation. Therefore, as we step into the world of remote working, we must also identify the issues related to mental health and take the aid of AI in finding appropriate resolutions.
Remote work is the new norm for several companies. The influence of remote work in the AI field looks promising with opportunities and challenges. In fact, the new at-home economy may further fuel the adoption of AI. In general, we are going to witness the democratization of the location of job opportunities over time. It will create new models of work, not just for individuals but also for companies and cities.