Andy Reid

Will a rise in remote working change where people want to live?

Whilst flexible working may have been tested as part of business continuity planning exercises, the current crisis has given businesses a real-world opportunity to see it in action.

This has helped many recognise that it could open up new options for them, including flexible office space. But what about the impact on people? If they are able to work more flexibly, will owners and tenants alike start to reconsider where they want to live? 

There have already been some predictions that people might start to move further away from the main employment hubs. However, these suggest that the length of the commute is a key driver in choosing where to live. The picture is actually more complex than that, and those who live in cities and towns do so for many reasons – for example, proximity to family, friends, community and schooling, and access to entertainment venues, sports teams, a wide variety of restaurants, theatres and shops.

Could those that have moved towards the employment centres for work-orientated reasons take flexible working as an opportunity to return to their roots? Whilst the occasional journey into the office would be longer, many might feel this is a price worth paying – particularly if lower property prices or rental costs further afield would enable them to upscale, or live in a different type of home. Working more flexibly would bring its own requirements though – for example, working at the kitchen table may need to be upgraded to a dedicated office space, and good broadband connectivity and mobile phone signal strength would be non-negotiable.

It will be interesting to see if, and how, people’s priorities and requirements start to change.

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