The aura of urban life might be fading

Jethro Wang has always met his global colleagues virtually. Though he lives in Hong Kong, most of his co-workers are based in Europe. As an employee of an international law firm, he has to work together with partners in different countries, remote working can be a good solution. “Although sometimes time difference is really annoying, I’m used to this and love its high efficiency,” he says.

The Covid pandemic has forced businesses to close or cut back, and has led to dramatic changes in how and where people work. The proportion of employees working from home has skyrocketed since last year. According to a report from The Guardian, analysis suggests roughly 28% of jobs in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK can be carried out remotely, and as many as 37% in the US. Meanwhile, the rise of remote working gives a boost to fresh thinking on moving out of metropolises and rebalancing life and work.

Aerial view of major roads cutting through housing developments in suburban Melbourne, Australia. Photograph: georgeclerk/Getty Images

Covid-19 has redefined urbanism. In nearly a whole year with coronavirus and the demands of working from home, plus lockdown and curfew, the shining point of the city life seems not looming large as people always expect. Historically, great cities have always been regarded as a benefit for career development. Therefore, this is one of the critical reasons for numerous individuals yearning for urbanism. While lots of offices remain closed with uncertain prospects and the virtualisation of many job roles, the workplace is not as important to career success and opportunity as it once was, large cities are no longer seen as a key factor in the professional life.

“I prefer remote working to an office cause I can save the high living cost in Amsterdam, particularly the high rent, and I also like flexible working hours to give me more time for life, not just living,” said Stefan Nicolae, a programmer working in Philips.

The Growing Popularity Of “Zoom Towns” Photograph: Getty Images (From Forbes)

In this changing work environment, citizens are exposed to new and more flexible ways of working, giving them the opportunity to reintegrate into family life and to reflect on what is really important. This situation is not only a catalyst for revolution, putting the employee experience foremost and centre, but proves that work can be done anywhere, ensuring productivity and keeping a good balance between life and work.

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