When we think of Silicon Valley, these words immediately come to mind: innovation, creation, and competition. And we’re not that far off. The culture there is rooted in these three things. They’re what drives the world’s leading engineers of all kinds to update technology and redefine our perception of a bright future.
In Silicon Valley, it’s not uncommon to ride self-driving cars on our way to work. Robots and other forms of autonomous machines are also roaming the halls of our offices. But this culture has been changed lately. Since most workers in the tech industry could work with their laptops, they worked from home to curb the spread of the virus.
But this meant the prestigious offices of top tech companies are sitting empty. If there are people, they’re very few. This meant that there are no conferences where engineers with unicorn startups are intermingling with venture capitalists. This meant that there are no hackathons that put in the spotlight promising individuals. Here’s how the COVID-19 pandemic changed Silicon Valley.
Lower Cost of Living
Many reports and studies have shown in the last few months that COVID-19 runs rampant in urban areas, especially the densely populated ones. Because of this, many people flocked to the suburbs and more rural areas across the country. They felt that, with the need for social distancing, there’s nothing more effective than moving away from a lot of people.
This meant that real estate prices went down and vacancy rates went up. The prices for rent in the area dropped to 9.2 percent in May. On top of that, experts predict that the home value would go down by 2.3 percent in the next couple of months. This is a very drastic change because the rent prices in Silicon Valley were notoriously high. You could work at a very high-paying job in a tech company but you would still find yourself sharing a small apartment with too many people to lower your housing expenses.
Remote Working as the New Normal
The best thing about working at a tech company is that, if you have a computer and Internet connection, you can work anywhere. You can do social media marketing for business franchises in the comfort of your couch.
To slow the spread of the coronavirus, big tech companies such as Twitter and Facebook called for the transition to remote working for most, if not all, of their employees for the rest of the year. Some of them may even be transitioned to remote working permanently.
This meant that the most modern and engaging offices in the world are lacking the hustle and bustle of lively workers. These are the places that used to define our previous perception of Silicon Valley.
Loss of Office Perks
Tech companies in Silicon Valley revolutionized the idea of a “fun” office. Employees get to enjoy gourmet meals three times a day for free. They have access to as many cans of coconut water as they want. They work in stunning offices that keep them fed, energized, and happy to work through the long hours and heavy load.
But, with the popularization of remote working, employees don’t get to enjoy these perks anymore. This may seem like a minor issue. After all, it doesn’t matter if you don’t get to enjoy the office amenities anymore because at least you’re safe from the coronavirus.
But tech companies full of office perks are what cultivated the “play at work” culture that people thrived in.
Travel Restrictions and Immigration
Another thing that the COVID-19 pandemic caused is travel restrictions between countries. Although people now are more able to travel, especially by plane, countries are still more strict with accepting people who would stay in the country for a long time, maybe even permanently. This is why countries issued bans on visa applications.
The United States is no exception. President Donald Trump issued restrictions on foreign workers from entering the country. But tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Facebook expressed that these bans on foreign workers would affect their business. And if their businesses are affected, it would greatly impact the U.S. economy. This would change Silicon Valley because they also rely on the expertise of tech workers from other countries.
These changes brought about by COVID-19 would change Silicon Valley as we know it. Who knows? It may lose its status as the world’s leading tech hub. On the other hand, it might recover and go back to the way it was. Now, Silicon Valley is adjusting to slow the spread of the coronavirus. And this could lead to other changes such as the development of more tech that could help better our healthcare system. They may also focus more on the environment. So one thing’s for sure. Silicon Valley would always create technology that caters to people’s needs.