WFH Policies Cause Employees to Leave Silicon Valley

  • POSTED ON: May 18, 2020

Silicon Valley only looks attractive when you do not have to live there. At least, this is what most residents tell us when they are forced to move out of their homes due to constant construction in the area.

Not only that, but the hub of technology is also too expensive to live in, and ever since the dot-com crash, the residential area around Silicon Valley continues to die down. In 1993, a journalist Paul Flaherty wrote, “The cost of housing and office space has spiraled out of control.” 27 years later, this still remains true.

Source: Getty Images

However, we cannot just blame Silicon Valley because the tech city of San Francisco has become a nightmare for most citizens for the past decade. The region refuses to build affordable houses for the people and as a result, they prefer to move out instead of wasting their life savings on rent or mortgage.

Now that the pandemic is affecting almost all the companies, Silicon Valley’s residential area is also taking some serious hits. Most people there do not even need to go to work to make sure they are staying productive; they just need their laptops and a solid WiFi connection to run operations from home.

Previously, Google told its employees that they could work from home until June while Facebook said that it has made plans for remote working through the end of 2020. Earlier this week, Twitter announced that the employees can observe work from home for an indefinite amount of time which means that most billionaire tech companies would be paying the employees who haven’t shown up at the workplace for months.

Source: World Atlas

This has made many residents of Silicon Valley contemplate their housing plans. If they are getting paid for work from home, then there is no reason to stay in such an expensive neighborhood. For most employees, staying in the tech hub was only appealing because they were closer to the workplace but now that this factor has been removed, spending your six-figure salary on rent and mortgage seems irrational.

Sarah Frier of Bloomberg talked to some of the people who are planning to move out of the Valley. Here’s what she reported:

Sachin Dhar thought he and his fiancée had a great deal paying $2,650 per month for a one-bedroom rental in South San Francisco, a short commute from Facebook Inc.’s offices in Menlo Park, where she works. But when the social networking company announced that most employees would be working from home until the end of the year, their calculation changed. “It makes no sense paying Bay Area rent if we can earn our salary living elsewhere,” says Dhar, 25, who already works remotely for a New York advertising startup. They’re considering moving to Hawaii—or, to really save money, somewhere in the rural U.S.

Dylan Hecklau is thinking along the same lines. His ad-tech employer, Jelli Inc., was dubious about letting people work from home before the pandemic hit. Now that employees have proven productive, its attitude has changed. Hecklau, 32, is planning to take the money he would have spent on a Lake Tahoe vacation home and make a downpayment on a permanent home in Sacramento, abandoning his $3,200-a-month rental in San Francisco. “With nothing keeping me here, I can’t justify paying the rent prices,” he says.

Of course, tech companies are offering incentives to people to stop them from moving away. They believe that sometime in the future, the workplaces would reopen under the guidelines of social distancing but very few people would want to work in a place where they have to sit alone and focus on their screens only.

Facebook paid a remarkable $10000 bonus to its new hires so that they could live near the headquarters of the company, something that the tech giant has never done, despite having a billion-dollar net worth.

So, as predicted, the downfall of Silicon Valley is near and we hope that this leads to a decline in the housing prices in the Bay Area. Obviously, this might not happen for another year but the pandemic has certainly given many employees new perspectives to think about and most of them point in the right direction.

Updated May 18, 2020
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