Remote work is here to stay. Thanks to the communications and tech revolution, and the working from home possibilities highlighted during the Covid pandemic, remote work has now become a mainstream option as opposed to a niche offering.
According to research cited in Forbes, 25 percent of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022, and remote opportunities will continue to increase through 2023. Furthermore, remote opportunities leapt from under four percent of all high paying jobs in the U.S. before the pandemic to about nine percent at the end of 2020, and to more than 15 percent today. This rapid rise in remote and hybrid working promises much for individuals, municipal and regional authorities, local development accelerators, and rural and peripheral economies.
The tech supporting remote work is essential to its continued success. Take G-P’s Global Growth Platform™ for example, which can support international companies in locating collaboration hubs anywhere and not just in more common city locations that end up being more expensive. This in turn means that rural regions can retain skilled people and help to arrest rural decline.
Holding on within communities to people of high skillsets and professional variety promises a much-needed rebalancing of society and the economy. Providing positive effects in regenerating rural economies, taking the pressure off urban services, and levelling the playing field for startups, has the power to transform communities and regions.
While remote working is not a silver bullet, it does potentially resolve many social issues in regional economies. It promises to revive struggling smaller towns and maintain their social fabric by retaining a younger population. It can also provide access to cheaper homes for young workers and family support systems for working couples. There are also individual mental health benefits from removing time-consuming and increasingly expensive commutes, with less car journeys helping to curb CO2 emissions.
Let us take a look at the measures some countries have introduced to bolster the future of remote working and to support the impact of its development on regional economies.
Broadband rollout and the new UK agenda
The impact of ongoing broadband rollout and the increase in remote and hybrid working is evident worldwide. In the UK, for example, as the country rolls out broadband in historically poorly served areas, demand from remote workers who need to be connected has significantly increased.
Better broadband, and the wider “levelling up” agenda being driven by the UK government, should create the right conditions for individuals and companies to work from anywhere.
Last year the UK government unveiled Project Gigabit, a GBP 5 billion scheme to roll out full optic fiber broadband to rural locations around the country. The first contract for the scheme was awarded in September 2022 in the southwest of England.
Project Gigabit aims to plug the gaps in these hard-to-reach places, allowing people to work from anywhere and startups to set up away from the usual cities.
It’s good news for smaller cities like Stoke, Britain’s third biggest growth area for remote and flexible jobs, according to a study led by the recruiters Indeed and video conferencing platform Zoom.
How the city of Tulsa targeted remote workers in the U.S.
In the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission has ringfenced USD 5 billion for rural broadband providers over the coming decade.
Individual cities, such as Tulsa, Oklahoma, have been ahead of the pack in establishing remote worker programs pre-2018. Tulsa Remote was launched to encourage remote workers to relocate to a city and region that might otherwise not have been considered. The program offered USD 10,000 and an impressive suite of community benefits to those who would move there for a year.
The initiative paid off and the program has now attracted more than 1,600 people. According to a report by the Economic Innovation Group, the program delivered USD 62 million in new local earnings in 2021, and income has poured into Tulsa’s local economy in taxes and expenditures. The analysis also found that, on average, approximately one new job was created in Tulsa for every two remote workers who relocated. The report predicts that at its current growth rate, the program could lead to USD 500 million in new local earnings and support up to 5,000 high-impact jobs by 2025, including thousands of relocated remote workers and at least 1,500 newly created full-time equivalent local jobs.
Ireland’s Rural Future plan
Ireland recently launched its Rural Future plan, a whole-of-government policy for rural Ireland for the period 2021-2025, and the first of its kind launched by a European country since the start of the pandemic. It includes creating a network of more than 400 remote working hubs and introducing tax breaks for individuals, as well as for companies which support working from home.
The government has also set a 20 percent remote working target for its 300,000 civil servants by the end of the year. Other measures include “financial support” to encourage people to live in rural towns and accelerated broadband rollout. The plan will see a EUR 1 billion Rural Regeneration Fund used to convert old cinemas, theatres, and town halls for remote working purposes, all equipped with high-speed broadband. Ireland’s Rural and Community Development Minister Heather Humphreys has pledged to increase the number of public sector employees working from home over the coming years.
Startups will welcome the initiative to bypass expensive office space, and, in addition, hire from anywhere. Offering the possibility of remote work for essential startup roles such as hire machine learning, senior developer, marketing team leads, and more will help startups compete with more prominent organizations.
Leveraging the everywhere workforce to beat skills shortages
Going remote also boosts a company’s ability to attract top technical workers, and bypass skills shortages in the local setting. This problem is becoming more acute.
In May, the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that there were more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK for the first time since records began. Businesses are suffering particularly in terms of tech skills. Research by Virgin Media, O2 Business, and Censuswide on the battle for talent found that 55 percent of respondents agreed that their organization lacks digital technology skills and 83 percent were concerned about the impact this could have on their business.
Britain’s plight is made worse by a dip in available EU workers post-Brexit, while the current employee-driven market empowers workers to quit their jobs in search of something better.
However, providing remote work options, which are popular to many, can provide a solution to hiring challenges. Between the end of 2019 (Q4) and the start of this year (2022 Q1), the number of people in the UK working from home more than doubled, climbing from 4.7 million to 9.9 million people, according to new data from the ONS.
The ability to work remotely could enable a significant number of British workers to work outside major cities and potentially help to spread economic opportunity across the UK.
In addition, especially for entry-level technical roles, graduates can grow their skillset in their hometowns while avoiding the high rents and long commutes involved in the well-worn path of conventional urban relocation.
How technology is evolving to meet remote demands
Reported difficulties in remote working focus on collaboration, engagement, social isolation, and productivity, issues that tech is aiming to resolve.
Some examples include HiPeople, a Berlin-based HR tech company whose hiring intelligence platform automates candidate reference checks from request to collection and analysis, and provides tools for candidate assessments. Seatti, another German startup, has created a flexible workspace software platform that helps hybrid or remote employees book shared desks, rooms, and parking spaces in offices. It also allows teams to plan their remote working locations while giving employers data to optimize their hybrid setups.
Piquing the interest of the investment community
Private equity and venture capital are also getting in on the act and are reinforcing what governments are doing. A Private Equity Wire survey from July 2022 shows that most respondents (57 percent) believe technology still offers the most attractive investment opportunities across VC.
Many of these technology businesses are building the future of digital applications and tech infrastructure that increases the potential for remote working and regional hubs.
Recognizing that interest, Dhaval Gore, Partner Communities Director at G-P said that companies will still have to ensure they remain compliant as they branch out into other states, countries, and regions.
“Local employment and privacy laws when hiring talent in multiple jurisdictions can be complicated. Remaining compliant is a high priority for both the startup and the VC investor, as failure to meet local compliance requirements could prevent them from getting their next round of investment or achieving the correct market valuation. This is where a trusted partner, such as G-P, can help to ensure they remain compliant and secure in every country they enter and operate.”
How G-P can help
G-P ensures you avoid these common expansion mistakes. As your partner in global growth, our team of HR and legal experts are at your side at every stage in the employee lifecycle. Our industry-leading SaaS-based Global Growth Platform™ streamlines hiring, onboarding, payroll and benefits setup, and team management processes so you can focus on your day-to-day operations.
For more information on how the expertise of G-P helps companies scale internationally, check out our resources.