Remote workers are on the rise. Here’s what they want in a home city.
Forget nightlife and entertainment — young, single remote workers looking to move are interested in the cost of living and safety.
The survey — of 541 permanent, unmarried remote workers under the age of 35 — by utilities and television service lookup company InMyArea.com, shows that a new and growing cohort of mobile workers are interested in much the same things as any other worker.
“A lot of times people think that if you are younger and single, entertainment would be top of mind,” said Ryan McGonagill, director of industry research at InMyArea.com. “Even though this subset of a population is more mobile and not as tied down to a single location, they are still thinking what we are all thinking about.”
Job opportunities, remote work convenience and access to nature and outdoor spaces came next on the wishlists of remote workers, according to the survey.
And a good chunk of these workers are planning to move in 2021, according to the survey, which found 49% said they were planning to move, while another 21% said they were unsure. The most common reasons for wanting to move were for a change of pace, to improve mental health and to save money, according to the survey.
But these workers are still more interested in urban areas over rural ones, with about 32% of these remote workers interested in moving to large cities and another 27% in suburban areas. Only 14% said they were interested in moving to a rural area, and only 27% said a smaller town.
“Some people still want to live in the big city – just a different big city,” McGonagill said. “Compare the cost of living in San Francisco or Los Angeles or New York to similar-sized cities that are not on the coast. You can get all that but get it for a much lower cost of living. If I don’t have to live in New York and San Francisco to keep my job, I might have to move to a city where I can get ahead financially.”
“For businesses, the incentives that you offer your team member are probably going to have to change,” he said, adding workers are looking for cost savings and peace of mind. “If you can offer your team members flexibility in terms of where they are working and when they are working, within reason, that seems to be what they are looking for.”
The debate over the contours and benefits of remote work continues to rage as the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing measures meant to stop its spread end, along with a massive work-from-home experiment that has given many workers a taste of long-term remote work. Workers in a study by the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Economics said they would take an average pay cut of 7% to continue working remotely.
An earlier survey from Blind found that 64% of workers at America’s biggest tech companies would take permanent remote work over a $30,000 raise. A similar group of tech company employees agreed that remote working in a cheaper area should mean a pay cut.
Several other surveys have found a similar desire for work-from-home flexibility and experts say it’s becoming a cornerstone in the hiring market. Employers have signaled they understand workers desires – even if there is a disconnect between employee preferences and employer plans.
But, even though many workers would be willing to take a pay cut to work-from-home a few days a week, experts say it just might not be that simple for small businesses. And ultimately, businesses will need to build a solution based on trust in order to operate a workplace that is both remote and in-person.