Tech Team Take on San Francisco & Silicon Valley

27 Jun 2022

Tech Team Take on San Francisco & Silicon Valley

After 3 years away… How things have changed!

The first thing that was noticeable was just how challenging it had become to pack a bag for a 10-day business trip. What used to be an automatic process/reflex action had become a torturous 3-hour exercise filled with self-doubt and ponderous decision-making! Something that I am sure all you travelling executives experienced on your first trip back on the road. C’mon, admit it!

In my line of work, regular trips by myself and other colleagues to Silicon Valley used to be a bi-annual sojourn, pre-covid. Many of our existing clients were based there as were organisations that were on our client development radar screen. So these trips, and the associated daily, ‘101 shuffle’ as we made meetings between San Jose and SFO were de-rigueur and indeed, very fruitful.

My European counterpart, Mike Drew and I had marked this trip as a ‘recce’ to see how we needed to adapt our business trips in the post-pandemic world.

It became clear to us in our pre-trip reach outs that so many of our connections had upped sticks and moved out of California. Seemingly to all four corners of the US, including Hawaii but with Texas and probably Austin being the most common of destinations. 

Now, we are all aware that companies such as HPE, Oracle & Tesla, for example, have indeed moved their Head Office to the Lone Star State. But outside of that, lockdowns and the shift to hybrid working have really been the catalyst for a major shift in the location-centricity of tech talent. 

The feedback from our pre-trip reach outs absolutely set the tone for the reality that we did indeed see.

Globally, we are all in conversations surrounding the impact of this pandemic-induced shift to remote working. How do we manage organizational culture, building employee loyalty and a sense of belonging to something?

From a technology development perspective, sure all the tools are available for people to create and develop from anywhere. Call me old-fashioned but surely, those spontaneous groups think sessions or whiteboarding with a few colleagues were a critical part of the path to success?

It all left me questioning whether Silicon Valley will ever be the Tech Hub and heartbeat of innovation that it once was!

On a personal level, it was very depressing to see the demise of San Francisco. What was once such a vibrant city, one could say without equal. It has now become almost unrecognizable with homelessness and squalor on just about every corner. Or at least, just around the next one.

Given the disbursement of the workforce and the change to San Francisco, what will happen to the large floor space that companies such as Salesforce occupy in the city?

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments on the future of Silicon Valley!

You can reach Andie Rees at andie.rees@odgersberndtson.com or Tom Buckley at tom.buckley@odgersberndtson.com