Not All Remote Workers Want a Sea Change

It turns out remote workers enjoy living in medium- to high-density city neighbourhoods as much as everyone else. That’s the finding from a recent review of US income, telework and residency data.

The study was conducted by US-based economic geographers Leah Brooks, Philip Hoxie and Stan Veuger. It compared US census data from over 186,000 census areas across 902 metropolitan areas in the country.

Pure economic theory on the rational-actor model might suggest remote workers would choose areas of cheaper housing further away from the city centre, given there is no need to commute. Regional and rural areas might also be more popular among remote workers.

This folk theory of remote work was not borne out in the census data. Remote workers, in the US at least, tend to live in denser neighbourhoods.

This is not just a result of white-collar professions involving more telework than labouring and service jobs, and employees in these professions having more means to live in the inner city.

In fact, the relationship held up even with income quartiles. That is, even when counting only workers within the same income bracket, denser neighbourhoods contained more remote workers.

Armed this information, the study authors logically enough attributed the findings to “the complementarity between leisure and amenities such as restaurants, theatres, and museums, that are oftentimes located in denser places” and the fact that “if workers telework frequently, they might place a higher value on interactions outside the workplace,” and thus wish to live in more social environments.

The long and the short: people working on their own at home often like to live around people. It only makes sense. And it only underscores the pressing need for a boom in higher-density housing in inner cities.

Article images courtesy of @sigmund via Unsplash.

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