The ire for remote work continues across the tech industry, as the CEO of OpenAI — the company behind ChatGPT — lambasted the flexible schedule movement in a recent talk.
With dozens of tech companies demanding that employees return to the office, the remote work boom of the pandemic is clearly less popular than it was a few years ago.
Now, Sam Altman, the CEO of one of the fastest growing tech companies in the world, has made his opinion clear: remote work is not the way.
OpenAI CEO Lambasts Remote Work
In a Stripe Sessions fireside chat in San Francisco, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman discussed the merits and downfalls of remote work, although he admittedly focused mostly on why the flexible schedule movement was such a terrible idea.
“I think definitely one of the tech industry’s worst mistakes in a long time was that everybody could go full remote forever, and startups didn’t need to be together in person and, you know, there was going to be no loss of creativity.” – Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI
The CEO went on to say that “the experiment on that is over,” referring to the many tech companies that are attempting to get employees back in the office.
Is Technology Good Enough for Fully Remote Work?
In addition to calling fully remote work a “mistake” and “over,” Altman noted that there was one problem holding back the popular trend from realizing its full potential in regard to keeping creativity alive and well in the workplace.
“The technology is not yet good enough that people can be fully remote forever, particularly on startups.” – Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI
Many would argue, though, that the technology did a pretty good job of holding up throughout the pandemic, and it has continued to facilitate flexible schedules across the business landscape. Video conferencing services like Zoom and Google Meet allowed for easy communication, with project management tools and CRM software allowing for employees to access important company information without risk of a security threat.
Now, if Altman was hoping to conduct meetings in the metaverse before the end of the year, then yes, technology just isn't there yet. But with productivity on the rise, we'd say technology is more than suited for the task.
Creativity and Artificial Intelligence
Whether or not remote work has somehow hindered creativity in the business world remains to be seen. But let's be honest, the CEO of OpenAI complaining about a “loss of creativity” is nothing if not a bit ironic. After all, his platform is one of the primary reasons that television writers in the US are striking across the industry.
“The problem here seems to be that we thought that creativity, per se, was the last bastion, the line in the sand, that would stop machines from replacing someone's job. I would argue that that's just some kind of arbitrary notion that people had that caught the popular imagination.” – Mike Seymour, co-founder of Motus Lab
Remote work has facilitated improved productivity, better work life balance, and even increased profits for a wide range of businesses around the world. If the CEO of OpenAI is worried about creativity, looking inward might be a better use of his time.