Civic News

What does local mean now, in a remote-first world?

This February, Technical.ly's What Local Means Now Month, we're exploring the civic impact of remote hiring trends, and how tech communities are changing to meet an increasingly web-based future.

Smithfield Street and Fifth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh, 2019.

(Photo by Flickr user Tony Webster, used via a Creative Commons license)

Does where we work still matter? How does your answer now differ from what it would have been pre-pandemic, or even a year ago?

At Technical.ly, we’ve been debating the question of whether place still matters for the past two years. For instance: Is it important to you where your employer is headquartered? Is coworking the future of work? Quite tactically, how many more companies (like Technical.ly) have given up their office HQs — and what does it mean for workplace culture?

The considerations have evolved throughout the pandemic. For instance, some tech companies are now going a step beyond remote-first and declaring that they’re moving their headquarters to the metaverse. We didn’t see that one coming in March 2020, or 2021 for that matter.

Many ecosystem builders still feel strongly tethered to a place, and are actively boosting its tech economy, as in the case of those behind the new Baltimore Tech Connect Portal or the PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative. We’ve even heard that the rise of remote work could be a chance to strengthen ties between metro areas, one reason being that employees can more easily work for a company in a different city that would otherwise be inaccessible to them, and increase travel between them.

Do individual technologists still feel connected to their local tech communities?

But as with any complicated question, it’s going to be a mixed bag of answers. When it’s easier than ever to hire the best talent from wherever, we know that some managers are looking beyond city limits: “We have a firm commitment to hiring best in class talent for each role, regardless of location,” one Pittsburgh founder who just raised a $25 million Series A told us.

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It’s not just about companies, though. We’re also curious whether individual technologists still feel connected to their local tech scenes. Are their professional networks wider than ever before, thanks to the expanse of web-based communities? If so, is there still an interest in, say, attending that meetup at the downtown bar, they way they would have before COVID-19?

(This question is top of mind for Technical.ly event organizers as we prepare for a hybrid Philly Tech Week 2022 presented by Comcast.)

February is What Local Means Now Month of Technical.ly’s 2022 editorial calendar. That means our reporters are focusing extra reporting on office trends, remote hiring best practices, analyses of reports on economic outlook, differences in corporate vs. startup perceptions of place, digital nomads and the like. We’ll be asking: How are city centers recovering from pandemic-prompted economic setbacks — or not? How have tech meetups changed? How does hiring continue to change? How does how location factor into a company’s culture?

Plus, look for the return of our local coworking guides. Check out the 2020 editions for PhillyBaltimoreDCDelaware and consider how things have changed since then.

Some relevant stories we’ve written recently:

Are you an expert we should talk to, or do you know of one? Is there a report we need to read to better explain this topic? Are you working on a product or solution of the future? Want to write a first-person guest post about your relevant experience, or to share some relevant resources? Let us know:

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