OpenAI CEO Altman Says Remote Work Could Hurt Tech

by / ⠀Blog Company Culture Remote Work / June 13, 2023
remote work tech

It is pretty clear today that every tech company is going after artificial intelligence. They all want to have the next big thing done their way so that everyone can enjoy their products. Much of the talk around AI relates to OpenAI, a research corporation that is seeking to promote and develop friendly AI. The CEO of this company is Sam Altman.

Just earlier in May, Altman stated, along with other CEOs, that remote work is a bad idea for tech companies.

What Did Altman Say?

Sam Altman came out recently with one of the harshest rebukes against remote work.

“I think definitely one of the tech industry’s worst mistakes in a long time,” said Altman in a recent interview with Fortune, “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.”

He also goes on to say that remote work is done with and that the technology needed for full remote work is not ready yet. Especially for startup companies. Strangely enough, Altman has also stated that he does not like working in spaces with others. This then brings up the question as to what he thinks the solution should be to this problem.

What Do Other CEOs Think?

Altman has made similar statements in the past. At the beginning of 2023, he tweeted that companies “who rushed to full remote permanently made a big mistake”.

He is also not the first one to voice displeasure about working from home. For instance, CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff at first supported the idea of remote work. But, by the beginning of this year, he thought that those hired in quarantine were not as productive because of policies.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg had laid off thousands of workers in the spring. In the notice he mentions an “analysis of performance data” that stated those who started remotely were not integrating with the company as well as those who work at the office.

Even still, David Risher, the new Lyft CEO said in April changed the company policy to have a mandated three days in the workplace over the flexible working schedule. Risher had ordered everyone back to the office, a day after laying off just over a quarter of their workforce.

Other CEOs include Disney’s Bob Iger, News Corp’s Robert Thomson, and Starbucks’ Howard Schultz. Amidst the pandemic, many employees opted to work remotely or a hybrid of home and office. Because of this, many had grown comfortable with it as opposed to being in person every day. This of course leads to debate as to how businesses should proceed.

Keith Rabois is a partner at Founders Fund. On a radio show that “I do not believe in remote work for startups,” He would go on to say that his firm is not interested in funding ventures that carry those criteria.

What Do Workers Think?

Many workers that had to work from home have stated that it works just fine. In fact, many would prefer to not return to the office and have to deal with commuting to work. A survey from Pew Research from April 2023 said that almost 60% of workers said that remote work helps get tasks completed, deadlines met, and more. Meanwhile, almost 40% said that there is no change in their work production.

Some CEOs fear that employees are using their time to work remotely at other jobs. Others think that some may gain more free time from the use of AI tools such as ChapGPT.

Altman has also stated, “I feel pretty strongly that startups need a lot of in-person time, and the more fragile and nuanced and uncertain a set of ideas are, the more time you need together in person.”

Altman shared that he and his fellow cofounder/partner Greg Brockman that they spent quite a sum of time trying to manifest a purpose for their AI chatbots. While they did consider the option of being niche in a field like medicine or the judiciary, they went a different route where those who use it can decide for themselves how to employ it.

This is a smart move as OpenAI is valued at almost $30 billion even though it was founded less than a decade ago. Now, CEOs are all trying to get their hands on the technology themselves. In fact, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna mentioned that the tech giant will be putting a hold on creating new jobs. Instead, they will look for roles that he believes can eventually be combined or replaced by AI.

About The Author

Tristan Anderson

Hello! My name is Tristan Anderson and I live in Manhattan, Kansas. I enjoy being in nature and animals. I am also a huge geek who loves Star Wars and has a growing collection.