#37: Spotify’s Work-From-Anywhere Program; The Future of Remote Work on Big City Salaries

Thinking Big 💡

Last week, Spotify launched its new Work-From-Anywhere program, which allows its 5,584 (2020) employees to work ‘wherever they do their best thinking and creating’. They can choose to work in the office, remotely or in a co-working space that the company will pay for, and have to commit to one option for a year.
Spotify is following similar moves by other tech companies but will continue to pay San Francisco and New York salaries based on the type of job, unlike Facebook and Twitter who have said that salaries could be adjusted to align with the cost of living – i.e. potential pay cuts for those who move away from HQ. Location-based pay seems counterproductive and will damage morale. Does it matter where people are living if they are expected to deliver similar results?
Here’s Travis Robinson, Spotify’s Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging, on the thinking behind the decision and how it will help promote work-life integration, happiness and inclusion (Business Insider).
This is an opportunity to shape the idea that big cities are the only places where meaningful work can happen because we know first-hand that isn’t true. We want employees to come as they are, whatever they are and whatever their cities are.
He also says it will promote pay equity, which location-based pay could damage.
It’s a smart move and having a global, diverse workforce will improve their bottom line. Better quality, original content and experiences will appeal to more cultures and grow their subscriber base. Spotify is the most popular audio streaming subscription service with 345m users, including 155m subscribers, across 93 markets.
Thoughtful leadership too. Offering to pay for co-working space shows they recognise not everyone can or wants to work from home full time. It’s having the freedom to choose your #workstyle, as Hoxby puts it, which means Spotify will continue to attract the best talent.
It also challenges the leadership team to improve their communication skills, collaboration practices, processes and tools to keep innovating. They seem to have found a way to marry European and American mindsets – taking the best from both cultures to create a new kind of workplace. I’m curious to see how they manage the challenge of a hybrid workforce and develop their culture going forward. If you’re working there, please get in touch.
Spotify’s CEO and Founder Daniel Ek is also investing one billion EUR of his personal resources to enable an ecosystem of builders who can build a new European dream - more super companies - the first ‘Silicon Valley’ in Europe?
I’ll be looking to fund so-called moonshots — focusing on the deep technology necessary to make a significant positive dent and work with scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and governments to do so. (The Observer Effect).
More on their Dynamic Workplace effort.

Welcome to Texas, Elon Musk. You don’t have to move to Austin

What happens to the local housing market if we have a dual economy of expats and locals with the former being paid higher salaries? House prices rocket, tension builds, and creatives move out as they can no longer afford to live there. Over the last 20 years the population has doubled in Austin, TX – ‘the new Silicon Valley’ where the average home sells in nine days. A brief history of Austin’s ‘Don’t move here’ t-shirts.
Last month Elon Musk announced he was relocating to the Lone Star state, but which of their tech hubs is the best fit? The odds-on favourite: Austin.

The advice 🤔

On being in the flow and preserving start-up energy in a big company:
How do you get that vibe and retain it when you’re a large company? you need to create a space where ideas can flourish, and risks can be taken – where serendipity can take place. You have to remove all the barriers to this.
I call people when I’m inspired by something and throw out lots of different ideas. Again, nine times out of 10, what I say is completely worth shit. But every now and then, I come up with something that’s super relevant for someone; something that changes how they look at an issue. This can lead to super interesting breakthroughs.
On ‘algotorial’:
It’s a tension to talk about editorial versus algorithms. Internally we call this “algotorial.” We think that it's quite beautiful to marry both. This is the beauty of editorial and algorithms working together; we as a company want to always ensure that we are not only shaping culture but also reflecting it.
Daniel Ek, Spotify’s CEO & Founder. (The Observer Effect).

Go deeper 🕵🏻‍♀️

👩‍💻 On the future of remote working on big city salaries – some examples of what companies are doing as they take a global approach to hiring and remote culture. (Digiday)
💰 Should you get paid based on where you live? Interesting research which shows location-based pay scales can weaken the morale of both lower and higher-paid staff, diminish productivity and increase turnover. (BBC Worklife)
🎧 Daniel Ek on habits, systems, and mental modes for top performance (Tim Ferris’ podcast)
⌚️ Ever wondered why a simple meeting can throw your whole day? Here’s a brilliant explanation of the Maker’s Schedule vs the Manager’s Schedule by Paul Graham. If we can understand the differences between the two types of schedule (manager vs freelancer, corporate vs start-up), it can help resolve the conflict. No more death by Zoom…
Pass it on!

Welcome to my bookshop! 📚

I’ll be sharing books in my bag and recommended reads on Bookshop.org. They pay a 10% commission on every sale and give a matching 10% to local bookstores, an integral part of our culture and communities. Check it out here.

Work with me 🙋🏻‍♀️

Leopard print, always. Worry less and rock a red lip. Remote work evangelist, problem solver, internet person.
💡 Thoughts, ideas, feedback? Leave a comment or email nicci@niccitalbot.com
☕️ Tips & large bank transfers welcome
📩 Subscribe to The Shift here
👋 Join Copy Club, 6 pm GMT, Saturdays on Clubhouse