Creativity Loves Constraint
If “creativity loves constraint”, as Marissa Mayer said, then that was never more true than in this moment in time. The idea that boundaries and limits can produce boundless and limitless thinking seems counterintuitive and paradoxical. But since the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic, start-ups like NachoNacho are taking this idea and running with it.
In normal times, most startups with funding and aspirations for growth would be taking the traditional first steps: calling up a real estate broker and leasing an office. But with the rise of the pandemic in early 2020 remote workplaces not only became the fashionable replacement for the open office—it became necessary. As a fintech company, the majority of whose lifespan has been during the pandemic, NachoNacho did not have a hard time adapting. New team members joining during the pandemic (like me) have only ever known the remote-work landscape of Google Meets, Slack threads, and interacting with co-workers through computer monitors.
Pros and Cons
There is a sense of something integral to start-up culture being lost; it is what Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Google all had in those garages. NachoNacho co-founder, Alan, says he misses the benefits of “co-working space, meet-and-greet and summit events to meet interesting potential clients, investors, and business partners”. But it’s not all bad—far from it actually. Several of the team members have called the change in workstyle “liberating” with pros like:
- more flexible self-managed work and leisure time
- the ability to grow the team with candidates outside of the Bay Area—including all the way across the country
- an obsolete need for commuting—which anyone can be grateful for
Although NachoNacho has not had to adapt its working style too drastically, the team members do not live in a bubble. The stressors and challenges of the global pandemic have touched us all from having to quarantine when family members were exposed to the virus to something as commonplace as not being able to get a haircut for four months. We are all working longer hours and we miss human interaction with colleagues, the idea of physical workspace, the freedom and security we once took for granted.
The Road Ahead
Now, maybe the idea of “back to normal” is not as far away as it once seemed. Nevertheless, while the pandemic may have hastened the process, remote work was always going to be the future of Silicon Valley. Nearly half of organizations with office space predict reducing their physical office footprint as a result of COVID, and more than 20% expect to reduce it by more than 25%, according to S&P GLOBAL. It is to be expected that the new normal for startups will likely follow a model like the one NachoNacho is taking, likely including a degree of remote work and more openness to hiring employees across the country.
Yes, it’s true that many of the collaborations which made Silicon Valley what it is today were forged in person, but that was before the new normal, and there is a great chance that there’s no going back. At least for NachoNacho, the road ahead remains clear: maintaining a strong sense of teamwork and communication, and making customers’ lives easier, regardless of physical distance.