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29 October 2020

Work From Home and Home Itself After the Pandemic

The whole world is talking about work from home (WFH), and that’s likely because nearly the whole world is doing it. When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11, businesses shifted their workforces to a remote setting overnight.

Of course, this has come with varying degrees of enthusiasm. While some employees can never envision themselves reentering the office, others are begging to go back. They simply can’t focus at home or value the divide between work and home too much to see it separated eternally.

Yet, there’s no longer a clear indication of when remote work will “end.” In fact, many are now predicting that it will become a permanent fixture within companies. Twitter, for example, has already announced that their work from home policy is here to stay indefinitely.

If this is the case, it opens up a lot of doors for people who don’t ever intend to return to the office. Sure, some people may rush back to the office as soon as it’s available, but more may go entirely online. With this potential, people are now looking to move away from their current location. After all, if you only moved somewhere for work, why be there at all if your work can now be done from anywhere?

Are remote jobs location specific?

Office work used to be the norm because computers didn’t exist. Today, every single employee has one. What’s the difference between sitting in a cubicle on your computer, sitting behind a monitor at home, or sitting on your laptop at a coffee shop around the world?

Today, most people – even CEOs – can’t come up with a good answer. Previously, it had to do with face to face contact. Most people would tell you that having the ability to meet and collaborate – even if it wasn’t regularly – helped business. And yet, we’re currently unable to do that for health and safety reasons and the world has kept spinning.

This means that there may be no reason to tie people to a city at all. As companies become more and more accustomed to driving business without their personnel on-site, it leaves a lot more flexibility up to the employee.

Will employees flee cities altogether?

Why do you live where you do? Is it because you grew up there? Is it because your job is there?

If the pandemic has prompted this question in your life, you’re not alone. Countless people are wondering why they live where they do – especially when they can’t leave their apartment before sunset each day, or it’s difficult to find space to social distance in. In fact, COVID-19 saw millions of Millennials moving back in with their parents for these reasons (along with the rising cost of rent and unemployment rates). People are considering making the move to somewhere that suits them better than their current location. Whether they desire more space or cheaper rent, the ability to work from home has altered their decision-making process.

That said, while work from home may give everyone a little bit more freedom to move about, it still seems unlikely that metropolitan areas will become desolate due to work from home. It seems that people are more likely to move 50 miles away from their current city – not 500 miles. Most people don’t live far from where they grew up, and even a slight jump from where they’re at would give them that change of scenery (and potentially cheaper rent) without entirely canceling out the potential for meetings or face to face contact if it were ever necessary.

Final thoughts

Work from home is here to stay post-pandemic whether you like it or not. It’s providing everyone more flexibility in their personal and professional lives, and it may even change where people are located. Just think…has the COVID-19 made you stop and wonder why you live where you live?