Despite the rise of remote work, tech hubs are here to stay

p 1 remote work tech hubs

With the pandemic reshaping the approach we work, many articles predict the demise of cities as startup hubs and promote the ascendancy of remote (and rural) tech capitals. Whereas the technology-enabled exodus to remote workforces has been a blessing for corporations working underneath COVID-19 restrictions—and dramatically increased opportunities for disabled employees—don’t rush to that tiny rural city too quickly. The sights of cities are much less engaging throughout a lockdown, to ensure. However in the long-term, metropolitan areas provide benefits that may’t be duplicated in absolutely remote settings.

The variety of cities supplies fertile floor for connecting with individuals who share comparable passions and pursuits. No matter your choice, whether or not private or skilled, cities have a big inhabitants of others who can spark and nurture creativity and innovation.

The suburban flight we noticed in the Nineteen Fifties and ’60s has reversed, led by youthful individuals who worth the facilities and sights of city life. Walkability and entry to bike lanes and ride-share providers permit lowered reliance on cars. Vibrant cultural scenes, eating places, and retail are clearly large attracts, which can grow to be much more engaging on the different aspect of the pandemic.


The place folks as soon as retreated to suburbs when beginning their households, many cities now have aggressive and fascinating faculties—enhanced by close by parks, museums, and child-friendly actions. As inhabitants density is elevated, every particular person’s carbon footprint is lowered. And there are large economies of scale in areas like healthcare and public transportation.

Some cities are extra suited to startups than others. Whereas New York and London each have myriad startups, competitors for sources from different industries (equivalent to trend, media, and finance) are elevated. Smaller cities like San Francisco (the place I stay half of the 12 months), Austin, and Lisbon hit the candy spot in phrases of their skill to provide the variety of life for expertise corporations, whereas not being overwhelmed by greater, extra established considerations. It’s more durable to create an amplified mindshare: We’re all about tech. A crucial mass of equally minded folks helps to focus trade path.

Corporations that are city-centric additionally entice press protection, which will be the distinction between startup success and failure. A brand new enterprise or product launched in a remote space can be far much less possible to acquire main media consideration that’s usually essential to funding capital. And whereas staff worth the flexibility to work remote, junior staff particularly are cautious to be siloed in an space that doesn’t permit for networking and profession development.

Nonetheless, not everybody can take benefit of the various alternatives supplied by a metropolis. Folks with restricted training, or these working low-wage jobs to survive, won’t have the means to advance into the tech ecosystem by approach of, say, a coding bootcamp or networking alternative. That’s why it’s essential for cities to proactively tackle such inequalities.

Whereas tech corporations profit from the advances that are permitting us to work remotely—I’m significantly enthusiastic about retreats and conferences in digital actuality—cities will stay sturdy and tech hubs are not heading for the hills. The largest shakeout occurred final 12 months, with corporations like Oracle and Tesla transferring to Texas in ‘Texit’, and Goldman Sachs transferring to Florida.

The easy actuality is that tech hubs are not a zero-sum equation, and there will probably be a number of winners. The cities that proceed to embrace a balanced method to progress, tradition, and affordability—whereas taking benefit of their respective distinctive choices that make them particular—will probably be a profitable method nicely into the future.

Vasco Pedro is the CEO and cofounder of Unbabel.