As remote work changes the landscape of both the American and global work fields, it’s also changing the dynamic of work and personal space. Many would think that remote work would lead to the creation of less, or indefinable demographics on where people are located as anyone, anywhere, could do the work that once took downtown-centralization or commuting to some other urban epicenter. But if current remote work trends continue, communities will actually get denser, not more spread apart, as a new definition of urban centers blossoms.
The American economy is different than it was 50 years ago and the resulting living communities of the American worker have subsequently changed, also. The very notion of a suburb was created out of the need to differentiate the spaces where one worked from where they raised their families, socialized, and formed communities. This work-life separation was necessary, as was the division between urban, noxious centers of manufacturing and the peaceful, idyllic picket-fences of suburbia. Larger trends toward remote work and telecommuting mean a less-distinct urban work center, in general. But what’s interesting is that instead of these remote workers spreading out across the nation more they are actually regrouping themselves in a more concentrated fashion.
The hybrid communities being formed out of the ashes of these defunct centers-of-production urban areas could be called an urban-suburbia, if you will. The Atlantic Cities says that many downtown areas are actually being repurposed as both living and working areas – even adding centers of commerce to the mix. In these areas closely-connected homes will share common areas such as parks and libraries and you won’t need a car to go get a cup of coffee or groceries, for that matter. If less people are commuting, then finding ways to live without cars or even public transit is of greater concern.
As less people work from actual office spaces the sharing of ideas amongst similarly-careered professionals isn’t disappearing, it’s taking place on the street outside one’s home. Think of these new living communities as social and professional networks at-large; educated workers will use the neighbors in these densely-packed areas to advance ideas and connect on a more thoughtful nature.
Companies are even jumping on this trend with the establishment of work-living campuses that will extend well past their office buildings. Zappos.com’s CEO Tony Hsieh wants to “increase the number of serendipitous interactions of our staff, inside and outside the firm”, and hopes that the community Zappos is building in downtown Las Vegas will not only give a place for these relationships to strengthen but also work to attract like-minded individuals to the community and the company. Despite a scheduled 2013 open for this campus a large number have already moved into the area. And Hsieh points to a revitalization to this defunct section of Las Vegas that on paper should take almost fifteen years, but will happen in closer to five.
As the traditional workspace and work day is changing, so too is what people want out of their lives and what they expect to receive from their surrounding community. Remote work truly has revolutionized people’s expectations for their lives; a new balance more keenly focused on relationships, interaction and redefining old, stereotypical ways to problem solve is emerging.
Author: Stacia Argoudelis
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Tags: Remote recruiting, telecommuting, workplace