For most of the last century, offices were in or near cities, as were the services needed to fill them, such as transportation, housing, and food. The suburbs were defined by their proximity to cities, and homes were places to return to at day’s end. So what if, for wide swaths of the working populace, that no longer applies?
A Gallup poll released in October revealed that 33% of job holders in the United States were always remote and an additional 25% were occasionally remote. Major tech companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Slack have told their employees that working from home is now at least semipermanent, and other institutions such as universities and hospitals expect virtual instruction and care to be standard offerings. A PwC survey found that more than half of all office workers —55%— would like to work remotely three days a week or more, and fewer than one in five employers want to return to the office as it was before.
This disruption has resulted in a remote-worker migration where up to 23 million people could move in the US alone and a labor shift that is setting off ripple effects across industry, real estate, and government. In industry surveys, workers in fields like tech and finance say they’ll ditch expensive cities such as San Francisco and Seattle. Meanwhile, 15% of 3,300 tech workers sampled who were living in the Bay Area have left. And those who move are more than twice as likely to settle in less dense regions with lower housing costs.