Missing Serendipity? Bring This to Remote Work

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Even if your job can be frustrating at times (isn't everyone's?), it's likely that if you've been working at home since COVID-19 hit, there are things you miss about being at work. You may never have thought bantering in the office kitchen or coming up with in-jokes with someone outside your department was anything special. Now that many of us are stuck in isolation still, it might seem like a golden age.

Silicon Valley types are certainly worried about losing this kind of workplace interaction. Tech editor Steve LeVine has written a long piece for Marker musing on what the pandemic could mean for startup culture writ large, and he's got some reasons for alarm. One of the most vaunted aspects of the Bay Area tech industry, he says, is its "serendipity" — two or more upstarts meeting by chance and building the next revolutionary company in the process. Indeed, before the coronavirus brought us all inside, one of the most frequent reasons workers were denied telework days or accommodations was "missing out on office culture" or similar.

This isn't confined to Silicon Valley or the startup world. If you're feeling stagnant on the job because you're missing out on chance encounters, researchers have figured out ways to pursue relationships with new people while working remotely. If you're concerned about the bigger picture at your company, however, LeVine points out that women and disenfranchised minorities have long been cut out of the process of "innovation" in tech. Invest in diverse hiring and supporting all your employees, he writes: "A better, rejuvenated system would arguably be open to any winner."