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Pandemic Didn’t Change Work Model so Much as Accelerate It

Florida Realtors economist: Is the work-from-home trend here to stay, along with its real estate impact on new housing and location demands? A nine-month study suggests that the change was already underway before the pandemic started. It’s simply happening faster now.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Preliminary analysis of a nearly nine-month remote-work experiment points to the reality that the pandemic was not a change agent, but rather an accelerant. Meaning – companies were likely going to embrace more remote work and telecommuting options for their employees in the coming decade, particularly in areas where traffic is just unbearable (we are looking at you New York and Silicon Valley).

However, adapting to the pandemic accelerated these plans, pushed forward technology adoption and created a new way of connecting and doing business. The future of work appears to have arrived earlier than previously expected.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10 remote work occupation categories according to the percent of people who teleworked because of the pandemic are:

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People who work in these occupations are seen as “suddenly mobile” – they are no longer tied to the gateway cities they lived in prior to the pandemic and are able to re-think their proximity to the office (and what the “office” even is). Faced with staggering home prices and wages that don’t seem to keep up, many are asking themselves, “Can we do this somewhere else?”

So, if people no longer have to live near their offices, will they still choose to live where they have been? According to a survey by Upwork’s Remote Workers on the Move released in October 2020, 14 million to 23 million Americans are planning to relocate to a new U.S. city or region. The survey reveals that not all moves are minor, such as moving from an inner ring suburb to an exurb of the same city. Some of these moves are to different states entirely, depending on what percentage of their work will be conducted remotely.

That is a lot of people whose view from their home office can go from one where snow blankets the backyard to one with a palm tree and some sand. Looking at the concentration of these top 10 industries, Florida tracks similarly to the U.S., meaning there are plenty of people here already living the dream. Focusing on in-migration from Northeastern and Western states is hardly new, as Florida has topped the lists for relocation for a while now. However, tapping into the new and potentially large suddenly mobile market could yield positive results for you and your business.

But does this trend have legs?

The Upwork survey indicates that companies find several advantages to increasing their remote workforce, chief among them lower operating costs, increased employee availability and job satisfaction. Additionally, companies throughout the world can readily tap into Florida’s increasingly diverse workforce with increased ease.

Many believe that once the pandemic fades and people can go back to the office as they did in 2019, not all will – at least not full-time. Several large tech firms have announced long-term remote work plans for employees and others are considering the same. And it’s not just tech – 57% of small and medium-size businesses plan to offer remote work plans for the long term as well.

Florida offers many upsides to the suddenly mobile that benefit both their employers and themselves. Home prices in Florida remain affordable compared to the more expensive housing markets that people are coming from – Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and New York City. Combined with the lack of state income tax, the calculus to make the move to Florida pencils out. Consider direct marketing to people in these specific industries currently living in the gateway cities as one of your 2021 goals.

Jennifer Quinn is an economist and Director of Economic Development for Florida Realtors

©Florida Realtors® 
Reprinted with permission Florida Realtors. All rights reserved.

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Allen Thompson

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