Folks in Silicon Valley are upset because they aren’t having as many chance meetings under lockdown. Poor darlings. Definitely the most pressing problem to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic so far, amirite?
Anyway, this led to an interesting Twitter conversation about how bullshit that idea is — of distributed work somehow removing serendipity from the equation — to those of us who have been living and working globally for the past decade.
Silicon Valley’s ecosystem is organised specifically to facilitate “chance” meetings. It’s not difficult to create or access that same serendipity online. Bonus: equivalent virtual ecosystems can include a much wider variety of people. Chance meetings already happen all the time in virtual environments. Think about how you came to be reading this email. I bet you can trace it back to a digital interaction.
Of course, distributed work doesn’t mean you won’t ever see or meet anybody in the physical world. Your professional interactions might be online, but you’ll still need to drink, eat, shop, socialise, and be entertained. That creates lots of opportunity for IRL human connection.
Instead of spending time with people just like you in an office, you become involved with the “watercooler chat” of your local community by visiting hubs like coffee shops and lunch venues. Freelancers and digital nomads have been doing this for years. The result? More encounters between people of different backgrounds and perspectives. That has so many benefits.
Silicon Valley’s models of work and business are beginning to feel outdated and irrelevant. So isn’t it about time for some fresh, borderless thinking?