This editor has spent many a newsletter greeting, Slack forum and Technical.ly article pondering a timely yet existential question: Does place matter?
As part of our ongoing future of work coverage, we’ve noted: It’s a time when former office workers are (probably) virtual for another few months, and companies debate whether to keep their IRL spaces post-pandemic. Plus, it’s easier than ever to hire the best talent from wherever. Some local technologists have even packed up and taken their work on the road.
I’m thinking now about something a Philly-based software engineer friend said after I posed a related question — about whether it matters where a current or potential employer is based — in a recent newsletter prompt. He responded:
“I DO care about job location, even if the work is fully remote, because it helps to stay involved with a consistent tech community! When the world does open up again, there will be meetups & hackathons & conferences and it really helps to work with a company that has a presence at these events. Starting this from scratch in a new area can be daunting. If you want to scratch the travel itch, maybe find a company situated in a few different cities.”
I know this isn’t everyone’s thinking, but it echoes some ideas I’ve heard from others. It’s how I feel, too. And it’s why we at Technical.ly continue to focus our reporting on cities, while acknowledging that their role in tech communities — and indeed, the nature of “tech communities” in general — is changing.
I’m seeing headlines in my inbox like “Smaller City Centers are Poised to Win Tech Talent Post-Pandemic” and reports that technologists are flocking to Miami. At least one prominent San Francisco tech company is ditching its HQ in favor of “a network of smaller offices” for distributed workers. Technical.ly has covered the trend of tech agencies maintaining a local HQ while expanding their teams nationally, with employee clusters in different regions.
So yes, place still matters. But the places we once thought of as tech hubs might be losing their power. In turn, smaller hubs are gaining prominence — something we’ve long held as a foundational assumption at Technical.ly, hence our focus on markets such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C., Delaware and Pittsburgh. Cities around the country, including this one, have been growing technology workforces as a result of digital shifts in how business is done and opportunity presented by the career paths that help navigate them. Even as they get bigger, these communities still tend to cluster, and shape the area that surrounds them. It may feel like we’re heading toward something different, but we’re not starting from scratch.
Where we live will always be a part of our identity. And so, with that, we at Technical.ly are happy to welcome you to the 11th annual Philly Tech Week presented by Comcast.
Yes, many of the next week’s 40+ virtual and mostly free events — shoutout to PTW21 organizer PACT for managing this year’s community calendar — will offer learning and networking on topics that aren’t explicitly about Philadelphia. (I’m especially intrigued by Monday’s “Future of Cities” conversation led by the local World Affairs Council.) But many, many, many are. That includes multiple local startup showcases, and conversations about Philly as life sciences magnet and opportunities within the tech sector to bring generational wealth to the city’s Black community.
This week is still primarily for people who live in Philadelphia, even if attendees and topics will come from across the country and beyond. We at Technical.ly in particular are hosting two conferences with speakers and attendees from all of our markets and beyond: Our Developers Conference for technologists and Introduced by Technical.ly for company builders. This aligns with the goals from the week’s origins: Build with and in Philadelphia, while inviting those from outside to join.
Even virtually, this week remains of Philadelphia. Thank you for being a part of it all.
— Technical.ly Managing Editor Julie Zeglen-30-