The Rise of WFH & the Live-Anywhere Generation
By Natasha Bougourd
Most office workers have spent the majority of the past 18 months working from home. Now that all social distancing restrictions have been lifted, a lot of employees are heading back into the office.
This isn’t the case for all of us though, with a number of leading businesses formally adopting hybrid working models, giving up office space, or extending their work from home order.
Working from home has been positive in a lot of ways for us. Not only are many of us more productive, but it also offers us the opportunity for a better work-life balance, which is something we don’t want to part with as restrictions are lifted.
Work staycations are becoming more popular
While much of the time we’ve spent working from home has been under lockdown restrictions, we’ve had periods of relaxed restrictions that have allowed us to go shopping, to bars, and stay in hotels.
As of December 2020, a Huawei survey found that 10% of UK workers had taken a ‘work staycation’ – a holiday away from home in which they still worked. The change of scenery is enough to refresh our minds during the working day, with the opportunity to explore a new area after logging off.
With lockdown restrictions preventing many of us from seeing loved ones, a lot of people took the opportunity to visit family members or friends living in other parts of the UK, working from their home for a week or so.
Alice, a 24-year-old marketer from Newcastle, said: “I’ve been to visit my sister a few times in Norwich over the past few months as restrictions have started to lift. It’s been an amazing opportunity to spend time with her because I don’t see her very often. Thanks to working from home, I’ve been able to do this more frequently without having to take a lot of time off work.”
People are ditching big cities
As well as a rise in work staycations, research has shown many of us are leaving the big cities to move to more rural, scenic, and affordable locations. A TalkTalk survey found that two in five office workers have moved or considered moving during the pandemic, with many leaving convenient city locations for smaller market towns thanks to more flexible working.
This is offering us a great opportunity to reside in more picturesque locations that may be further away from our offices but are still commutable. For those whose employers are offering full-time home-working, the possibilities are endless.
The rise of the digital nomads
Some of us are going even further afield in our quest to find a new working from home destination. Digital nomadism, where people travel to a new country while working remotely for a company in their homeland, is on the rise, and the UK ranks highly in the list of best countries for being a digital nomad. In early 2021, the number of long-term stays booked through Airbnb increased from 14% of all bookings to 24%. What’s more, 11% of its customers booking long-term stays say they are living a nomadic lifestyle.
In response to our global wanderlust, countries around the world, including Greece, Germany, Mexico, Barbados, Thailand, and Italy, have launched digital nomad visas. Some digital nomads are using standard tourist visas because their employment isn’t tied to their new country, but these new visas offer longer stays and specific allowances for remote working.
Nestpick created a ranking of the best cities for digital nomads and the ‘work from anywhere’ generation to live in, with Australia’s Melbourne topping the list. The ranking included the cost of living, infrastructure, freedom and laws, weather, and access to medical care.
How can you get involved?
Moving to a sunny climate for a few months – or potentially longer – and working on a beach or in an otherwise picturesque location is the dream for many of us. We know, though, that it’s not viable for all of us.
For those of us with children, we can’t drop everything and dash off to a sunnier climate. What’s more, going full digital nomad is the most expensive of these options, meaning it’s limited to people in especially strong financial positions. If you’re young with the financial means to jet off to a new country to fulfil your digital nomad dreams, we say go for it!
If you have family dotted around the UK and young children, why not take them on a trip to visit their relatives for a week or so? Getting away from your own four walls will help to stimulate you and your children mentally. This can reinvigorate you even while working, so you don’t have to take time off work to enjoy a vacation with family.
Even if you don’t have children, this offers a great opportunity to spend time with loved ones without worrying about eating away your annual leave. Even a longer stay with a couple of days off work can do you the world of good – research shows that short breaks away from work can be better for our mental health than longer breaks with a “big” holiday. Mini-breaks give you a chance to pack light – a smaller case complete with light clothing and a little washbag will do perfectly!
The shift to home-working that was sped up by the pandemic has created a new generation of floating workers. Whether we’re taking a work staycation for a week or we’re swapping the UK for a sunnier climate, we’re making the most of the opportunities afforded by working from home.