What’s Trending in the World of Work: Location, Location, Location? Cities Are Losing Their Appeal

Cities have always been a draw with their bright lights, vitality, and the promise of good-paying jobs. Urban hubs still pulse with energy, but they’ve lost their shine; inaccessible housing markets, costly childcare, and time-wasting commutes are contributing to a drop in quality of life that’s pushing people away. The New York City area alone loses 277 residents a day.

This migration stems in part from a new reality: leaving the city behind doesn’t have to mean leaving your job, too. Some of the biggest brands in the world—such as Amazon, Apple, and Procter & Gamble—are embracing distributed teams while many other companies fall somewhere on the spectrum of remoteness. Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. workforce works away from the office at least once in a while.

Here’s a look at three articles that dig into the appeal of smaller centers and the impact of remote work.

Remote workers are choosing the life they want

While 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas, a recent Gallop poll found just 12 percent would choose to live in a big city if they could live wherever they wished. In a commentary for CNBC, “Biggest US cities losing hundreds of workers every day, and even more should be fleeing,” Stephane Kasriel, Upwork’s president and CEO, said the traditional workplace—with everyone under one roof—has created an imbalance.

“[There’s a] fundamental imbalance between where people want to live and where the jobs are located.” —Stephane Kasriel, President and CEO of Upwork

More and more workers now have the option to go elsewhere. Kasriel noted that the shift away from major hubs is possible in part because of the market power skilled talent wields. “If managers at one company are unwilling to provide trusted, high-performing employees the option of working remotely, then other, more open-minded companies might,” he said.

The broader impact, from rural growth to office space

The migration has the potential to revitalize small cities and rural areas; some states even offer incentives to help attract money and skills to regions that may have been struggling. That’s just one of the emerging trends Recode reporter Rani Molla highlighted in “How remote work is quietly remaking our lives.”

The preference for working from home is changing office inventory, with demand for coworking spaces on the rise. It’s also influencing office design. Julie Whelan, head of occupier research at real estate firm CBRE, told Molla that office space is moving toward a homier look and feel, incorporating spaces with distinct purposes: focus, collaboration, privacy, and socializing. “It’s an outward sign of how you value employees,” she said.

As society adjusts to virtual work, the option has become table stakes for companies that want to attract and retain talent: “Whoever I work for next, if they tell me I can’t work remotely, I’m not working for them,” one lead developer told Molla.

While it isn’t without its highs and lows, Molla’s article highlights how flexibility is central to creating a work environment that can be arranged to suit individual needs and work styles. “Remote work has come to mean a spectrum of somewhere between always in the office and always remote. The constant is that there is a choice,” she said.

Five qualities of a remote work-friendly community

Smaller cities are well-positioned to accept workers in search of a different lifestyle. But what does it take to be a remote work-friendly area?

In “The best—and worst—US cities for freelancers in 2019,” CNBC reports on a recent study by Neighborhoods.com that considers livability for freelancers and other professionals who work outside of a traditional office environment. The real estate app took a lens to cities across the U.S., evaluating them according to five criteria:

  • Median rent
  • Average Internet speed, critical when you depend on it to work and collaborate with others
  • The number of coffee shops per capita, a solid second choice for remote workers who want a break from their home office
  • Income tax
  • Ease of getting around, factoring for walkability, transit, and biking

Leading the list of top cities? Spokane, WA; Vancouver, WA; and Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

What recent articles that explore how we work have inspired you? Share them and how they influenced you in the comments section below.

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