A decade from now, offices shall be used for one thing and one thing only: quality time with colleagues.

This seemingly bold prediction comes from Prithwiraj Choudhury, a Harvard Business School professor and expert on remote work.

“We will probably in 10 years stop calling this ‘remote work’. We’ll just call it work,” he said.

A long-time advocate of “work from anywhere,” Choudhury has studied firms that went 100% remote years before the pandemic, including software companies Gitlab Inc. and Zapier Inc. His research showed that a hybrid workforce is more productive, more loyal and less likely to leave. With companies from Twitter Inc. to PwC now giving employees the option to work virtually forever, Choudhury said businesses that don’t adapt risk higher attrition.

Choudhury spoke with Bloomberg journalists remotely from Boston last week. Following are excerpts from the conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity.

Is there anything on remote work that the media has seriously missed or gotten wrong?
Remote work is often pitched as something that employees want and employers don’t. My research has showed that this is a win-win. For employees, it’s great to work from anywhere because you can move to a cheaper location. You can live where you want to.

For employers, it’s a win as well because you are not constrained to hiring from the local labor market—where you have an office. The other big benefit is productivity. In the U.S. Patent Office, we documented a 4.4% productivity gain back in 2012, when they allowed patent examiners to work from anywhere.

The final win for employers is that work from everywhere leads to a fairer workforce, especially on the dimensions of gender and race. There’s at least two decades of research showing women have lost out on career opportunities because of geography. But if the company lets you work from anywhere, you don’t have to relocate.

What will be the norm of work 10 years from now?
This is a once-in-a-generation moment when people are not going to be forced to live where they don’t want to. Some people will find a permanent place to live; some will move around. The digital nomad revolution is going on.

We will probably in 10 years stop calling this “remote work.” We’ll just call it work, and work is something you do, not where you go or where you live. My prediction is the process will unfold in every industry and every country. There will be a few leading companies that will adopt this and attract talent, and there will be laggards digging their heads in the sand and losing talent.

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