The impact of AI in remote work
4 min read

The impact of AI in remote work

You've probably heard of ChatGPT, Github Copilot and a myriad of other AI tools coming out every week. Millions of people are starting to use them to become more performant in their jobs. Today let's see how these tools can impact remote workers.


I'm Sergio Pereira, and this is the Remote Work newsletter 👋

Last week I told you how to reduce meetings in your remote team.

This week I'm sharing my thoughts about the impact of AI tools in remote work, and the changes that could result from the crazy times we live in.

You've probably heard of ChatGPT, Github Copilot and a myriad of other AI tools coming out every week. Millions of people are starting to use them to become more performant in their jobs.

So, today let's see how these tools can impact remote workers. I'm breaking it down into these 7 thoughts:

1) Do more work in less time

ChatGPT alone is already helping millions of people doing exactly this. You can offload tedious and repetitive tasks, get inspiration for new tasks, and overall complete in minutes a piece of work that could otherwise take hours.

I've been working with O'Reilly on some materials for Software Engineers on this exact topic, and this week I lectured a live course for 7500 Software Engineers around the world. You can get the recorded version here.

2) Higher expectations

Just like 20-30 years ago, when computers became mainstream. Office workers went from using pen and paper to using computers. Their output increased massively as a result of using much better tools.

The same is happening with AI tools right now. Instead of searching on Google or doing tedious tasks by hand, we can have AI helpers like ChatGPT and Github Copilot to accelerate our delivery.

Employers are aware of this, and they become more demanding. After this initial skepticism, I expect employers to purchase team licenses of the best AI tools, train their employees on how to use them, and demand a higher level of performance.

3) Smaller teams

On the flip side, teams will likely become smaller. A 10 people startup will now be a 2-3 people startup. A 200 people engineering department will likely be 50-100 people in the near future. I'm not talking about layoffs, I'm talking about growing a business without needing to grow the team as much as in the past.

This also means that many more companies will likely be created in the coming years, and the market will be less composed Big Tech companies with thousands of tech workers and much more about SMBs and startups with small teams.

4) Fewer managers, more individual contributors

Companies will value doers more than ever before, because doers will get more work done than ever before.

The strong problem solvers, who have relevant experience, and strong understanding of technology and know how to leverage AI tools to boost their output. These will have peak demand in the coming years. They'll complete the work that used to be given to small teams.

With teams getting smaller there will be less need for complex processes and robust people management. This means that non-technical managers that used to focus on this will probably have smaller demand than in the past.

5) Interviews re-invented

Interviews as we know them will fundamentally change. Leetcode type coding interviews and other types of testing syntax are now borderline useless, since people will likely use ChatGPT and other AI tools to solve them in a few seconds.

Especially in remote roles, companies have no good way to ban usage of such tools, even if they want to. So it's better to simply assume every candidate uses the best tools available and craft the interview around that.

Since a few months ago, I'm asking in every interview "How are you using ChatGPT to become better in your job?". The replies are interesting, but that's for another day.

Point is, people should use the best tools during interviews and during their jobs, so interview will focus less on technicalities like language syntax and algorithms, and focus more on problem solving and reaction to change.

6) Async advantage

Companies that have works remote and async have created processes around solid documentation about their processes, technology, etc.

These companies will have a natural advantage when introducing internal AI tools, as they have a rich knowledge base to use as baseline.

We'll see all sorts of AI bots coming to Slack, JIRA and the SaaS tools we use in our remote teams, and those tools will likely deliver much more value in teams that have solid documentation than in teams that rely on meetings to make decisions and where knowledge sits on the team members' brain memory.

7) Growth of Fractional work

The explosion of remote work has broaden the spectrum of careers one can have. One good example is the number of people who started working part time and freelancing for multiple clients.

I'm certainly one such example myself. I've doubled down on my Fractional CTO career, and have never looked back. In fact, more companies than before seem to be happy hiring hourly freelancers and part time employees.

With AI tools empowering individuals to produce more with the same resources, it's likely that even more companies could hire Fractional roles.

We can't avoid feeling a bit anxious about all these possibilities. They can change the market, the roles, and the work we've known for many years. I believe change creates opportunity, and we should learn how to leverage it in our favour.

Feel free to message me your views and questions about the impact of AI in jobs, remote work and tech careers in general. I'm happy to bounce some ideas.

You can read all past editions of this newsletter here. Make sure to share the link with your friends and colleagues so they can read it too.

See you next Friday,

Sergio Pereira,
Startup CTO & Remote Work Lover

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