Research highlights that remote work supports women’s aspirations to start a family and their wish to have children, underscored by a significant uptick in marriage rates and fertility rates. This could cause a long-term surge in fertility rates among younger women if given enough time. This trend was especially pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic when remote work was pivotal in preventing a collapse in fertility rates until after the crisis and the launch of Silicon Valley’s Return to Office nonsense. Given these outcomes and the supporting data that productivity remains unaffected, one might assume that Silicon Valley would endorse this approach as a cost-effective method to bolster fertility rates.
The Silicon Valley Paradox: Silicon Valley’s loathing of remote work is at odds with the concerns voiced by several tech titans about dwindling populations and the necessity for employees to revert to office work. We keep seeing example after example of this hypocrisy despite the data showing that you aren’t losing productivity by working from home.
- Elon Musk, who infamously proclaimed that “population collapse due to low birth rates is a much bigger risk to civilization than global warming,” has vehemently criticized and disparaged the concept of remote work. The most vived example is his CNBC interview instead of addressing tech workers’ anxieties about mandatory office return and their significant distress—many of whom were guaranteed remote work policies by senior executives during a period of labour market strain and the COVID pandemic— Musk mocked those workers and said “People should get off the goddamn moral high horse with the work-from-home bulls***,”
- Marc Andreessen, another “pronatalist”, called offices a “continuation of a college campus experience” and said that the pandemic has robbed young workers of work relationships and opportunities — from frequent outings and water-cooler chats with coworkers to inner-office dating.
- Peter Thiel, another famous “pronatalist,” claims that “Even working remotely should be avoided, because misalignment can creep in whenever colleagues aren’t together full-time, in the same place, every day” appears benign at first glance. However, it takes on a different tone when it is revealed that the desire is for people to work extended hours while spending less time out of the office. To be fair, Theil provides additional monthly compensation. Still, this practice is more of an exception than the norm in Silicon Valley.
This isn’t a new pattern: This isn’t the first instance of hypocrisy exhibited by many of the same individuals. For years, they have lamented about America’s inability to build. Yet, Silicon Valley moguls and billionaire investors, including the self-proclaimed “pronatalist” Marc Andreessen, have consistently opposed numerous proposed multifamily housing projects. Remarkably, during one such project, Andreessen openly expressed his opposition to town officials, declaring he was “IMMENSELY AGAINST multifamily development.” Ironically, Marc made a massive display of investing with Adam Neumann post-WeWork debacle, centred around housing affordability.
Elon Musk often weaponizes this, with the most famous example being his suggested Hyperloop as an alternative to rail. Not because he will deliver but to divert California lawmakers from a high-speed rail project after lambasting California’s incapacity to build. Musk quashed a public transit proposal that doesn’t serve his interests, as he believes people will purchase fewer cars, regardless of the broader benefits, especially to families.
The Bottomline: Silicon Valley’s insistence on office return, among other anti-family policies, belies their professed “pronatalism” and spotlights a (potentially malignant) misalignment with policies that help family formation and boost birth rates. This discord affects employees in the immediate term and has broader repercussions on the workforce, society, marriage, and fertility rates. In addition to this mess, the resistance of these “pronatalists” to housing and other projects that do not yield direct benefits for them, coupled with the demand for prolonged working hours across all economic sectors, underlines their lack of commitment to genuinely enabling people to form and spend quality time with their families.