Remote work is more common than ever before, but it wasn’t always this way. It’s still a relatively new method of operations, and while there are quite a few benefits for both employees and employers, there are other impacts related to remote work that can have far-reaching consequences.
We want to address some of the positive and negative impacts that this remote work trend has had on society.
Housing Costs and Availability May Balance Out
Big cities might have more opportunities for employment, but the cost of housing often makes it difficult for people to commit to employment opportunities in these areas. There is often a housing shortage in metropolitan areas, and as things stand now, the country is short almost 4 million homes (as of early 2021), with most of this shortage being located in places where these jobs are considered valuable.
Remote work, if the shift to full-time remote work is utilized, means that these jobs can be filled by people without requiring them to purchase or rent a home in these high-cost locations. Someone working remotely could work remotely for a company halfway across the country and live in a place where housing costs are significantly less expensive. Some experts believe that this trend would increase the cost of living in more rural or suburban areas while decreasing the costs associated with big city life.
However, if this is to become a reality, there needs to be a balance between the increased cost of more affordable housing and decreased cost of urban living. One example can be seen in the Tulsa Remote program, where Tulsa, Oklahoma residents are offered several perks—including a $10,000 grant—to all those remote workers who come to live in the city for at least one year. This type of investment means that Tulsa has been attracting new, high-earning residents, resulting in a return on their investment of $13.77 for each dollar spent on remote workers willing to relocate to the city.
The Climate Could Benefit
It’s reasonable to think that a decrease in urban living would lead to more vehicles on the road, as the decrease in public transportation access and walkable amenities would mean more people driving from one place to another. However, what if the opposite were true? What if having more people in these less-urban locations means that there would be greater incentive for these walkable amenities or greater demand for public transportation? The climate would surely benefit if this were the case.
Remote work has also led to a significant decrease in travel for many people, such as eliminating the morning commute, business travel, cross-country air travel, etc. All of these decreased emissions could do wonders for the environment.
Let’s Be Clear—We’re a Long Way from Ubiquitous Remote Work
We’ve discussed some of the obstacles, like changes in housing costs and zoning laws, but some places simply aren’t remote-friendly. Access to the Internet limits remote work capabilities for some people, especially when you consider that much of the country still doesn’t have access to broadband Internet.
Despite these obstacles, however, we are committed to helping your business make a shift to remote work, should you desire to make that change for your organization. To learn more, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.