As I am re-centering my attention more into technology and product this year and shifting back to my passions, I found myself on my flight back from Europe, where I was spending the holidays with family, thinking of the new year ahead and how I would work towards my next adventure. The pandemic has brought lots of very exciting changes to the way we live and work (for example, work isn’t a place anymore, which is a game changer) and I was wondering what these changes would mean for me and the fab teams I have the honor to work with. See, every year I gamefully challenge myself connect the dots by listing all my intuitions in tech and work culture trends and project them into the future – see what pans out correctly across 12 months. This year I am going to try to predict 3 macro trends and for the first time ever, to write about it! And yes, I promise, this is super fun.
The benefits of career polygamy. I read about that concept as early as 2017. Here's the dream: you love your job; love your boss and you love the company you work for. And they love you right back. And you can see a great future together lasting many years because, well, who would want to ever leave such a beautiful relationship?
But the reality of course is less rosy. Sometimes they don't love you back. Sometimes they start to take you for granted. Sometimes you find yourself stifled and yearning for something more, even if you can't specifically define what that "something" is. This is the self-imposed dilemma of the person who makes a full commitment to one career at a time, one employer at a time. It can feel comforting and secure, (until it isn't).
I am almost certain that the next evolution of talent is polygamous careers to transform the corporate world as we know it – and it’s probably already there, thanks to the rapid and giant advances in remote and hybrid work tech and culture of the past two years. See, I am pretty sure that nobody’s brain is confined to a single interest or skill. Yet the traditional pre-pandemic labor market has been “one job at a time” … but aren’t we most happy when all our many interests and skills are fully utilized, both personally and professionally, instead of us being singularly utilized?
The desire to generate income and feel fulfilled from multiple projects will increase retention (you don't leave a job if your "other interests" are being fulfilled elsewhere), increase workplace productivity (no more face time…people will be busier and more efficient), and help many projects and companies engage top talent that would otherwise be out of reach. I had a similar thought on the future of work about 10 years ago when I was envisioning that work soon will be like how movies are made – assemble a team to make the movie then we the movie is completed the team moves on to the next project. Your career then becomes a portfolio of projects, whether you’re a cast director, an actor, a designer, engineer or salesperson. I now think this is there: check Braintrust, a platform network that is talent-owned, and where any company can engage a group of freelancers and directly work with a coordinated team directly, no middleman. Also check for example a startup like Polywork, which is a 2020’s take on LinkedIn that builds out your profile at the more granular project and achievement level rather than the job level
The New Global Nomad(ism). I think that we have entered the era of nomadic life and work and personally, I absolutely love it. When I graduated from Stanford, I was living in a house in Sunnyvale with a set of “Friends”-style roommates on a two-year lease. My first job was at a startup in Silicon Valley. There was zero notion of remote work, and pretty much life and work were a place, city, region …
Fast forward to post-pandemic 2022, most startups are remote-friendly or remote-only: work is not a place anymore. There is a flurry of dwelling and office swapping/renting platforms and networks that enable us to go, live and work at different locations for weeks or months at a time. As a result, I sense that more and more professionals of any age can, and will today, choose to live their lives between a set of rented or swapped spaces around the world, working remotely (that said I am sensing this is going to be just around a few time zones, based on my experience of the past 10 years it’s challenging to be more than a few time zones away from your team members).
Such experiences and diverse immersion in new communities and cultures can profoundly change lives and foster the creativity, openness to diversity and self-exploration that truly enriches personal and professional lives. I sense that any company that jumps on the opportunity to deliver the kind of products, platforms and networks that can make this more affordable and accessible to all will be amongst the winners of this decade.
On a side note, new companies will definitely (and are now) be built for this new reality but can old companies evolve to a culture and set of practices that work with this new way of life? For example, both Apple and Amazon have had to back off their directives to return to the office in 2021 while Square and Adobe went fully remote, growing the chasm between companies that are and aren’t willing to accommodate.
Personalization while preserving trust. For the past 10 years, I have been a huge fan of using data and machine learning to foster hyper-personalized experiences and bring product delight to our customers. But in the era of GDPR and CCPA, the trend of privacy and opting out of ads is here to stay. Enter generative AI and synthetic datasets.
In fact, artificial intelligence today is already making personalization so incredibly compelling that already an opt-out is becoming the equivalent of going to a restaurant and be served random food. As a matter of fact, I am certain that hyper-personalization has already become the new advertising, and everybody really appreciates it – whether your local coffee shop knowing you by name or stich fix being real good at suggesting your next spring outfit or DoorDash flagging food choices you’re allergic to. So now, the solution to building data-driven customer relationships without implicit data harvesting is design, design, design, a lot of synthetic artificial intelligence magic and policies that aren’t at the expense of privacy and security.
Let me know what you think!
My name's phil mora and I write about the things I love fitness, hacking work, tech and anything holistic.
Head of Product
thinker, doer, designer, coder, leader