Greylock's Reid Hoffman and Sarah Guo: Investing Ideas for the Future of Work

Anjali Sundaram | CNBC
  • In the migration to hybrid work, technology will need to make sure remote workers do not become "second class citizens."
  • Concepts like a "virtual office" on a desktop will help with company culture issues that could be challenging in a post-pandemic world.

Programming note: Greylock's Reid Hoffman and Sarah Guo speak on innovation acceleration and the post-pandemic disruption of work at the CNBC @Work Summit on March 30th. Register now.

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, is again investing in the future of work, this time, post-pandemic.

Hoffman and Sarah Guo, his fellow partner at venture capital firm Greylock, are betting that the move by major corporations to hybrid work arrangements that will emerge after Covid will present opportunities for new technologies beyond Slack, Zoom, and Google.

Here are a few of their top ideas.

1. The hardest part of hybrid work will be company culture

While there is a lot of focus on tech companies going remote, Guo said it is more important to note that most major corporations, including icons such as Ford, are talking about the move to a hybrid approach.

"Everyone is thinking about a new mode of work and nobody knows the answer," Guo told CNBC on Thursday.

She is certain there will be a lot of hybrid work arrangements and more support for remote workers that become permanent.

"We are going from emergency mode to building mode and we are really focused on the softer stuff," Guo said. "That will be hardest ... building culture and career progression and that's where we are investing the most."

She mentioned Greylock portfolio investment Remotion, which has created a "virtual office" that sits on top of a desktop all the time, keeping employees connected to the workplace.

2. Risk of remote workers becoming "second-class citizens"

Hoffman said innovation for a post-pandemic work world will turn to invention of new workflows and work processes. 

Coda, which Greylock invested in well before the pandemic (2017), was designed to solve the challenges and disconnections that are involved in the siloing of individual work and the work of a team.

New modes of collaboration and productivity will be needed, but there is also a risk that workers not actually in the physical office become "second-class citizens," Hoffman said. "We need to make sure everyone is in the room where it happens."

3. Gig economy labor issues require new thinking

Hoffman says the era of start-ups that grew the first generation of the gig economy may have "fumbled" labor issues, but he does not think a return to the "old mechanism" is the right move for the labor market.

Hoffman said "future inventions" that the gig economy needs to innovate on include ways for gig workers to receive benefits for accrued hours, credit for having a solid reputation, and other factors that should become portable for workers in creating career paths across employers.

Gig economy companies need to make to make sure workers get not only the flexibility they want, but a system that has built into it a career progression, and safety and health benefits. But that does not mean going back to a former labor market construct either, Hoffman said.

4. Moore's Law is being reborn for massive computing changes

Intel's new CEO announced a massive investment earlier this week in new chip manufacturing plants and Hoffman says it is the right bet, regardless of the critics.

While the so-called Moore's Law that dictated the exponential increase of computer chip capabilities has ended relative to desktops and servers, Hoffman says the next chip era is starting and Moore's Law will be reborn to chase it. The massive data farms that have already been built will next require massive servers and specialized chips that will be critical to the AI transformation of industries including precision medicine, education and entertainment.

"The AI transformation across industries will require a massive amount of computing," Hoffman said, and he added that should give companies like Intel a high degree of certainty when making multi-billion-dollar capital investments.

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