How Communities Can Benefit From Remote Workers

Since early 2020, the pandemic has transformed the way people around the world work and travel. As the global workforce shifted towards a remote working lifestyle, it has given people the freedom to travel, spend more time with their families, take control of their own schedules – and ultimately challenge the necessity of being tethered to a certain location. For millions, the norm of long commutes during rush hour has now been replaced with the flexibility to choose where they work.

With the trend of digital nomads continuing to rise, we have realized that the benefits of remote working do not only apply to employees and employers – but there is a wider ripple effect on the long-term impact on our cities and communities. Let’s get started.

The Great Shift: From Major Cities to Anywhere

Traditionally speaking, where we work ultimately decided where we lived. This meant that major hubs like New York City, Silicon Valley, London, and Tokyo have had the advantage of attracting big companies and great talent due to being major economic centers. As a result, we ended up with a concentrated talent pool and a scramble to migrate for better opportunities. The consequence of overcrowded city centers and CBDs would inevitably lead to harsh commutes and a skyrocketing cost of living.

New York City Crowd
Rush Hour in Tokyo – Source: Wikimedia

But as remote working becomes more permanent, employees are starting to realize that they no longer have to live where they work. The importance of freedom and autonomy to work (from anywhere) has ultimately changed the geographical dynamic as we enter a new era of working. This new era is one that offers the opportunity for people to choose where they work and live based on the lifestyle and amenities that best suits them, rather than the location of their workplace. As a result, we are starting to see people move out of city centers to find a comfortable place for cheaper elsewhere.

The Great Shift II: From Industries to Individuals

Since the world started to adopt remote working, it has not only changed the way employers and employees operate but it has also impacted how governments approach new policies. Where once countries and cities had to brand themselves to attract entire industries, they must now switch their approach to recruit more remote workers individually.

From improving visa processes and income tax exemption to developing infrastructures that cater to remote workers such as co-working spaces and fast internet — places like Portugal and Dubai have already rolled out digital nomad visas to attract more remote workers.

Thailand’s Approach

Digital Nomad Visa Thailand

With that said, the Thai government launched a new ‘Long-Term Resident Visa’ in September 2022 – with the aim of attracting highly-skilled professionals from around the world to reside in Thailand. This scheme features a 10-year long-term resident visa, a work permit, and an exemption from foreign income tax. It can also be applied to four dependants per visa holder for spouses and children.

The Benefits of Remote Workers on Communities

How Communities benefit from remote workers

As mentioned above, this new era of work has become a great opportunity for countries and cities to implement programs that attract people to relocate there. Travel companies like Airbnb have already started a partnership program with 20 destinations worldwide that are ready to welcome digital nomads. While some benefits are more straightforward than others, Airbnb suggests that the best approach is one that not only attracts remote workers but also integrates them into local communities so that all residents can enjoy its benefits.

In 2022, there are approximately 35 million digital nomads worldwide and any town or city can now promote itself as a great place to live and watch the benefits flow in. Whether it’s the low cost of living, good weather, or tourist-friendly activities, these are all factors that are taken into consideration by the average nomad. Here are a few examples of the positive impacts remote workers can provide at the community level.

Remote Workers Help Build Diverse Communities

Good community relations begin with open-mindedness and acceptance. Cultural diversity is key for a community to thrive and remote work has generated an influx of young professionals from all over the world, bringing diverse perspectives and new cultures to local communities.

HOMA Residents Help Clean-up Nai Harn Beach, Phuket
HOMA Residents Help Clean-up Nai Harn Beach, Phuket

By opening your mind to neighbors who have different cultures and viewpoints, you are unconsciously supporting the idea of respect and understanding while embracing a sense of community. A study by The Conversation suggests that friendliness, helpfulness, and social acceptance are often higher in diverse communities. Furthermore, they also claim that the more diverse the community, the more likely that residents are helpful in times of crisis.

Remote Workers Boost the Local Economy

When remote workers relocate, they are investing their time and money into the local economy without taking local jobs. Additionally, their income is often spent in the community they live in, from paying rent and utilities to dining in local restaurants or even starting a business. This helps boost local economic development by supporting small businesses, and can even lead to the creation of jobs.

Sunday Night Walking Street Phuket
Sunday Night Walking Street, Phuket Town

As HOMA Phuket Town is nearing full capacity, we have seen a significant direct impact on the local economy in the Samkong neighborhood. The family-run food stand opposite the complex receives at least 100 orders from HOMA guests per week while 50 regulars bring in their dirty clothes to the local laundromats weekly. Likewise, the local bar close by has become the common hangout spot – hosting around 70 HOMA residents during the weekends.

Drives Innovation and Fosters Collaboration

Generally speaking, remote workers will opt to stay in one place much longer than the average tourist which makes them more connected to the community they live in. Their mixture of professional backgrounds and expertise help bring new knowledge, different problem-solving skills, and innovation to the local community. Some remote workers might also have ties to larger business opportunities and have the potential to create long-lasting networks.

Meeting room in HOMA's co-working space
Meeting room in HOMA’s co-working space

Additionally, an influx of remote workers helps generate new market demands from both private and public sectors. From cafes and pharmacies to transportation systems and local infrastructures, these services will have to evolve to match the incoming demand from remote workers in the post-pandemic era – which in turn benefits the larger community.

At HOMA, we have already welcomed remote workers from all over the world. Our co-living concept, regular social events, and communal living spaces work hand-in-hand as a platform for guests to easily connect with one another. On top of that, we have a co-working space right on-site that fosters an ideal environment for collaboration and creativity. So if you’re looking to work remotely in beautiful Phuket, HOMA might just be the right place for you.

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