Remote Work Could Aid in Reawakening of Rural Communities

By the end of 2020, the shift to remote working would be fast-tracked by atleast 6 years, says A New World Of Remote Work report.  Globally, 54 percent of employers offer remote working in some capacity- 18 percent of which telecommute on a full-time basis. While it has been spurred on by the ongoing pandemic, the shift to and call for more remote working has been long in the works. With the use of virtual technology like video conferencing and virtual meeting rooms, experts predict that the remote working trend is here to stay. As more businesses have transitioned to virtual offices and remote working, so has the shift of workers to the countryside. Rural communities have, in recent months, experienced an influx of people considering a move to a rural home- two-thirds of Americans, in fact, according to a SatelitteInternet.com survey. With rural communities experiencing a boom in residents enabled by remote working, these smaller towns are set to benefit in substantial- and unexpected- ways.

A Permanent Move To Remote Working And Decentralisation Could Drive Rural Economic Development

According to RedFin’s year on year change in pageviews, searches for rural areas have increased by 115 percent and searches for small towns are up by 84 percent.  As more employees decide to relocate to rural areas, many of them will be capitalizing on the lower cost of living and more favorable housing costs. However, there is also a prime opportunity for companies to capitalize on this shift as well, through the creation of remote employee hubs, the booking of short-term meeting spaces, and co-working spaces in rural areas.

The establishment of co-working spaces like Davinci’s coworking spaces in Fort Worth would tick several boxes for businesses who herald remote working. The move to remote working would reduce the cost of office overheads in prime city-based locations. Opting to lease or develop a co-working space in rural towns where employees are clustered can work out much more cost-effective and combat employee isolation and loneliness- a key concern when shifting to remote working. According to the 2019 State of Remote Work report by Buffer, employee loneliness was the second-highest concern for remote workers. For seasonal businesses, it also presents an ideal solution for temporary office space when demand is heightened. For the communities, it would contribute to the establishment of a new economic hub and drive industrial traffic to often-overlooked locations like Oregon.

More Residents And Higher Demand For Rural Living Means Town And Real Estate Development

With the population seemingly migrating towards small-town life investment in real estate and rural land will skyrocket. New entrepreneurs and expanding companies may consider setting up a base in these rural communities, for their remote working team. As more educated workers begin their lives in rural areas, these towns can expect the consequential investment of funds and interest. 

However, there is still much to be done when it comes to the new rural migration pattern that remote working has kickstarted. For example, the slower internet connectivity for country residents could present fundamental issues for remote working employees. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 80 percent of the American population without good internet access live in rural communities. Around 39 percent of them lack access to high-speed broadband, which essential for virtual meetings and conferences. Also, there is the issue of locals being outpriced in rural real estate by companies and new residents as demand grows and prices respond in kind. 

The Migration And Remote Working Trend Increases The Talent Pool For Smaller Towns

Brain drain and lack of talent have been a long-standing impediment for rural areas. With most companies traditionally choosing to locate their offices in downtown city locations, most families end up relocating within commuting distance. This results in a loss of valuable talent that would be used to develop the area. With remote working tools like video conferencing software enabling people to work at home and place less emphasis on physical location, rural areas will benefit from an influx of talent and skills- both of which can be used to drive economic development in the community. 

Also, the call for infrastructural development will get louder including broadband, roads, and transport. Those within the community may also be inspired to launch their own business within the area. And with the popularity of virtual office spaces and tools like a virtual receptionist, many of them can comfortably run their own multinational business from these small towns without the prior roadblocks.

That being said, it is remarkable how technology has enabled remote working and presented a solution to the rural- city opportunity gap that has eluded us for decades. With fewer businesses hopping on board with the concept of remote working and ample tools to make it happen, it is the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the transformation it can cause in rural areas.


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