Is there going to be a mass exodus of tech workers out of cities like SF?

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VP of Partnerships and Strategic Advisor in Software, 51 - 200 employees
There's a mass exodus underway right now from San Francisco urban center to suburban areas. It's significant enough that rent has changed drastically. The house values in suburban areas are increasing. In some cases it's not just moving from the city to the suburb, it's moving to a different state or a different country. Countries are offering tech worker passports, where you can literally become a citizen of another country and still maintain your job somewhere else.
2 Replies
Product Management, Public Trust Services, 10,001+ employees

I think I'm less worried about mass de-urbanization, which I definitely think will happen. I do think we'll see more of a balancing that'll take place between major metropolitan areas, where there is good education and there are good career opportunities. But I would argue that long term relocation for families will be harder. It isn't really material and they may have family obligations. I think that that will slow that exodus. At the same time, I do think we'll see San Francisco and New York not be such large hubs and we'll see other places be able to develop. I think some of the social and societal changes that will end up happening, will better support somebody living in Montana, for example, and still having opportunities.

Chairman, Sacramento Angels, Self-employed

It's popular to have the idea to move out, because things look dire. I've done a lot of projects for the city of San Francisco, and I've seen it up close. I feel people are going to come back at some level. It's not going to be like it was, but there's going to be a little bit of an overreaction to get out. And then people are going to see the things that drew them to San Francisco to begin with, and they're going to see benefits to that. Once the initial shock of this pandemic is through, I think you'll see a little bit of flow back. I don't think it'll get back to the same hyper levels that it was, and that may be a healthy thing for the city, who knows. I don't think it's going to be a one and done situation.

Product Management, Public Trust Services, 10,001+ employees
I think the value in suburbia substantially outweighs the value of the city for somebody who has to raise minions. I think you'll see those older couples move out more aggressively than they have historically, independent of career opportunities. On the other hand, I think what you'll also see is young people who have been forced to live at home will rush back as soon as it looks clear. So big cities, I'd be betting on skewing more to the young side when that swing happens.
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Chairman, Sacramento Angels, Self-employed

I think, if you are a company with lots of physical plants, facilities, and offices, the glass has been broken here with the pandemic. You'd be foolish not to rethink your strategy towards where people work and how you run your business and organization: how you support culture, how you support employee engagement, how people work together. I think there's a lot of fundamental changes that people should be thinking about that could actually help them operate, get access to better talent, have a more motivated workforce, have lower real estate costs and investments. There's a lot of opportunity here that this has created. People would be foolish to not seize that opportunity when things get back to normal.

Chairman, Sacramento Angels, Self-employed
I think the real estate industry has drastically changed. That has an impact on communities, cities, tax bases, etc. that I'm not sure we fully realize the implications from, yet.
4 Replies
Product Management, Public Trust Services, 10,001+ employees

I agree. In very fundamental ways. For example, offices were not a thing for quite a long time in house design, they went away. I think moving forward, we're going to see apartments and houses designed with a clear remote work strategy. And that there's probably an opportunity in supporting that in some way. Whether it be for network connectivity or network redundancy. The new, “can you hear me now” is “Comcast is down.” And so, we may see multiple service providers being plumbed into buildings to be able to ensure effectiveness of remote employees. There are already some employers that will pay for your network connectivity. Not a lot of businesses do that, but I think that certainly will be a thing and there may be some opportunities in the way that is streamlined. I think that there's some broader opportunities in this area as well.

Chairman, Sacramento Angels, Self-employed

There's some hybrid environment scenarios as well, where you've got a group of people working in an office in the future. There'll be a material group that's remote, not offline, but in a virtual model. You have to think about the tech that's going to be required to support that kind of a platform. Virtual whiteboards, cameras, and the way in which sound is captured around the room. A lot of that stuff exists, but that hybrid mixed environment, is something that's going to be more commonplace I think, in the future. This is where it's going to be in May or June of next year, half the group is going to want to meet physically and the other half is not going to want to do that. We're going to have startups that want to pitch to us locally and startups that want to pitch to us from New York city or somewhere on the East coast. I think that's here to stay, that element of how we think and operate and drive our groups. Flexible workspace is definitely going to be a growth segment.

VP of Partnerships and Strategic Advisor in Software, 51 - 200 employees

Real estate has fundamentally changed, and not just at the individual housing unit, but at the community or suburban unit. Can you imagine what it would be like if community offices existed like schools exist for your kids. You move into a school district, you move into a community office area. That community office has 30 different companies that have telecommunications links to it. They have separate areas where their physical security can be managed, where their confidentiality can be managed. You have coworkers that are going there from the same company, and you're able to work together.

Senior Information Security Manager in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
Does not seem like it will be a ‘mass’ exodus, but many.

With that, things are getting back to normal.

Silicon Valley will be Silicon Valley after the pandemic is over, and is an important place to be.  Hard to envision a long-term mass exodus.
Chief Information Officer in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
The pandemic has proven to organizations who were unsure of remote work that workers can work effectively from any location. I suspect continued exoduses from metro areas such as San Francisco may depend on several factors: age, financial situation, career prospects and current work situation. Some recent research suggests that age & financial situation may have the most influence on population flight out of large urban areas. The cost of living in metro areas like San Francisco has already impacted the metro population. San Francisco's bleak economic activity over the last six months suggests residents are leaving due to record job losses, the prevalence of remote work, and high living costs.
CEO in Services (non-Government), 2 - 10 employees
I am not sure about a mass exodus. There will be some types of roles that can be done remote and they will leave the Bay Area (or other large cities). But there are many roles that cannot be done (or are hard to do from remote).

Bay Area is about relationships and about the eco system. Very hard to do those things over Zoom. So not sure there will be a mass exodus

I am seeing this in Paris as well. IT is working from home for last 7 months but Research, Sales, Plant operators and many other roles are still going to work even with the government calling it lock down.
Vice President & Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in Software, 10,001+ employees
Yes If companies allow “work anywhere.” SF is expensive and if you and live and be happy and highly productive in Arkansas...

Companies need some guidelines along the way (interns, new hires, COLAs, travel costs, etc)
Senior Director, Defense Programs in Software, 5,001 - 10,000 employees
I believe data so far shows that while incredible growth has stopped during COVID, that for everyone that leaves someone else is coming in right now - generally flat.

The Bay Area, like many metropolitan locations around the world draw tech workers not only because of the great job opportunities, but also because it’s a beautiful place to live.

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Director of IT, Self-employed
One thing I do is include them in the meetings about the changes that will take place and get their opinion.  I also lay out the pros and cons of the changes and how it will effect us as a team moving forward.

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