How the Ability to Work Remotely Is Transforming Rural Economies

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Apr 9, 2024
Remote working is changing rural economies in big ways. Here's a quick look at what's happening:
A person engaged in a virtual group meeting on a laptop, illustrating the impact of remote work on rural economies.

The ability to work remotely is changing rural economies in big ways. Here’s a quick look at what’s happening:

  • Economic Revitalization: Programs like Tulsa Remote are bringing new money and people to small towns.
  • Infrastructure Development: Improvements in internet access are crucial for supporting remote work in rural areas.
  • Community and Sustainable Development: Remote workers are contributing to community growth while facing challenges like rising housing costs.

Strategies for Rural Economies include:

  • Enhancing internet and housing options.
  • Creating community spaces for remote workers.
  • Offering training for remote-friendly jobs.

Remote Work’s Impact:

  • It’s reshaping economies, workforces, and societies.
  • The productivity debate continues, but with the right tools and culture, remote work can thrive.

Conclusion: Remote work offers a lifeline for rural economies, bringing in money, people, and revitalizing communities.

The Remote Work Revolution

A man in glasses smiling while working on his laptop in an office setting with a potted plant nearby.

When the pandemic made everyone stay home, lots of office jobs quickly moved to being done from home. Surveys tell us that most companies and their workers like this new way and want to keep it. Upwork, a big job site, thinks 73% of companies will have people working from home by 2028.

This is great for small towns because now people with good jobs can live there as long as there’s good internet. People coming back or staying put means more money spent locally, more taxes for the town, and new life for these communities.

Case Studies: Rural Transformation Through Remote Work

Real-world examples of how remote work is revitalizing rural economies.

Case Study 1: Economic Revitalization

The Tulsa Remote program started in 2018. It gives people $10,000 to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and work from there for at least a year. A study found that in its first year, the program helped Tulsa earn an extra $62 million. This shows that encouraging people with remote jobs to move to less popular areas can really help those places grow economically.

Case Study 2: Infrastructure Development

For remote work to succeed in rural areas, good internet is a must. But, while 83% of city folks can get fiber broadband, only 47% of rural homes do. Closing this gap is important. Solutions include working together with private companies, using new technologies, and getting government support. For example, Vermont has a program that helps rural areas figure out what they need for broadband and how to get it. With the right steps, rural areas can get the internet speed remote workers need.

Case Study 3: Community and Sustainable Development

Bringing remote workers to small towns doesn’t just help economically, but it can also make these places better to live. It’s important, though, to think about challenges like rising house prices and differences between newcomers and locals. Ways to help include organizing community events, encouraging newcomers to get involved in the town, and making sure the town keeps its unique character. This can lead to growth that’s good for everyone.

Strategies for Rural Economies to Leverage Remote Work

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Insights for Economic and Workforce Development

Experts suggest rural areas should:

  • Make sure they have fast internet and show where it works well so remote workers can choose to live there.
  • Include cheaper housing in their plans to draw in remote workers.
  • Set up events and places for remote workers to meet and make friends.
  • Offer training for jobs you can do from anywhere, like coding or online marketing.
  • Try to attract people who used to live there or have family in the area.
Infrastructure and Policy Recommendations
  • The government should help pay for better internet in the countryside.
  • Change some rules so money meant for rural homes can also be used to make downtown areas nicer and more walkable for remote workers.
Creating a Supportive Ecosystem for Remote Workers
  • Open shared workspaces where remote workers can work and meet others. These can have private offices, desks everyone can use, and meeting rooms.
  • Help with rent for remote workers to make living there more affordable.
  • Plan get-togethers and events so remote workers can meet locals and other remote workers, helping them feel part of the community.

Challenges and Considerations

A woman participates in a video call with a colleague on her laptop.

Remote Work Trend Longevity

The big shift to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has made many wonder if this change is here to stay or just a temporary thing. Here are some reasons why working remotely might continue:

  • Surveys show that both bosses and workers like the idea of working from home even after the pandemic. Companies save money and find good employees, while workers enjoy being flexible, getting more done, and having a better balance between work and life.
  • The technology that lets us work together from far away has gotten a lot better and is now common in many jobs. Things like video calls, sharing files online, and group chat apps make it easy for teams to work together from different places.
  • A study by PwC found that more than half of the bosses plan to spend more on tools for online teamwork even after things go back to normal. This means companies are getting ready to keep allowing remote work.
  • Young people starting their careers really want the option to work from anywhere. If companies want to attract the best people, they need to offer some way to work remotely.

But, there are still some issues, like keeping the company feeling like a team, teaching new people the ropes, and working across different time zones. A mix of working from the office some days and from home on others might be the best solution for many businesses.

Combating the Rural “Brain Drain”

Rural places have had a tough time keeping young, smart people who often move to big cities for jobs. Now, because you can work from anywhere, rural areas have a chance to keep and bring in these young workers. Here’s how:

  • Put money into places like co-working spaces and cafes where people working from home can meet and work together. This helps people not feel so alone.
  • Work with local schools and online training programs to make sure there are skilled people ready for these remote jobs.
  • Show off the good things about living in a rural area, like cheaper living costs and beautiful nature, to make it sound like a great place to live. Talking about fun outdoor activities, arts, and places to eat also helps.
  • Offer money help for people who move there to work from home. This could be things like cash bonuses, help with finding a place to live, help paying off student loans, or free places to work.
  • Make sure the internet works really well so people can do their jobs from home. This is super important for making remote work possible.

Rural areas that welcome people who work from home can really benefit. They’ll see more skilled people moving in, more money being spent locally, and more people living there again.

Conclusion

Working from home is making big changes in small towns and rural places. When people can work from anywhere, they can choose to live in smaller towns. This is good because it brings new people and money into areas that were losing both.

The COVID-19 pandemic made more people and companies okay with working from home. Now, many jobs don’t need you to be in an office. This is great for small towns because people who work from home bring their salaries and spend them locally. This helps the local economy and supports community services.

Here are some ways remote work is helping:

  • In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a program that pays people to move there and work from home brought in about $62 million in just one year.
  • To make working from home easier, some places are working to get better internet. This is important because good internet is needed for remote work.
  • Programs that help new people fit into the community are important. They help keep the town’s culture and make sure everyone gets along.

To make the most of remote work, small towns should:

  • Work on getting better internet and more flexible living options.
  • Create places and events where people can meet and make friends.
  • Offer training for jobs that can be done from anywhere.
  • Tell people about the benefits of living in a rural area.

If small towns plan well, they can use remote work to grow in a good way. This change can help stop the loss of people and bring new life to rural areas.

Related Questions

An overhead view of a person's hands using a MacBook Pro on a wooden table, surrounded by creative elements including a notepad, a smartphone, a pen, and a vase with flowers.

How does remote work affect the economy?

When people start working from home, it changes the economy in a few big ways:

  • People moving from big cities to smaller towns can make house prices go up in those towns but might make rents cheaper in the cities.
  • People spend less on things like eating out for lunch and traveling to work. Instead, they spend more on making their homes nicer because they’re there more.
  • The need for office spaces goes down. Some office buildings might not be fully used, while homes might need to be set up for work.

Overall, these changes are big and can create new chances for workers and places.

How is remote work changing the workforce?

Remote work lets companies hire people from anywhere, not just close by. This means they can find a wider variety of people to work for them, including people from different places or with different ideas.

It also means workers have more control over when and how they work, which can help them manage their personal lives better.

In general, remote work makes it easier for companies to find good people and helps workers fit their jobs into their lives better.

How does remote work affect society?

Working from home can be good for society in several ways:

  • If fewer people need to travel to work, there’s less pollution and traffic. This is better for the environment.
  • With less need for office buildings, those spaces could be changed into homes or places for people to enjoy.
  • Being able to work from anywhere can help include people who usually have a harder time finding good jobs.

There are some downsides, like not seeing coworkers face to face. But mostly, working from home can make things better for the environment and help more people get jobs.

How has remote work impacted productivity overall?

What people find when they look into how productive remote work is can be very different. Some studies say it’s not as good, while others say it’s better.

What matters a lot is:

  • How managers and the work culture view working from home
  • How good the tools are for working together and if people know how to use them
  • The kind of job and what the worker is like

If companies can get the right setup, working from home can be just as good or even better than working in an office. But they need to make sure everyone knows how to work well together even when they’re not in the same place.

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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