New teleworking models are being tested
In advanced economies, the coronavirus pandemic may accelerate incubation-related changes in the workplace and home, as well as the transportation systems that connect them. However, the degree of change will depend on the enormous inactivity in the real estate market and public transport networks, which are called upon to respond to the new data of moving from the center of large cities to the suburbs and to the smaller urban centers in the West. The current distribution of land use stems from the development of railways in the 19th century and automobiles in the 20th century.
Many company executives and freelancers can afford to live in the center of big cities, taking advantage of professional networking and cultural entertainment opportunities. Other workers are forced to live in suburbs and peripheral communities with cheaper housing costs. As a result, there is a double movement to and from work, with correspondingly high costs in money, time and energy, but also a burden on physical and mental health.
But in the last 30 years, technological advances such as e-mail, instant messaging and cheap teleconferencing have made remote work possible. And we see this happening even in service companies, which rely on interpersonal contact. In Britain, the percentage of teleworkers is growing steadily, although it started from a low base. Prior to the pandemic, another 5% of the country’s workforce worked mainly from home, according to the statistical service. Full-time and part-time employment are more common in the London suburbs and the south-east (where workers traditionally travel a lot), among the highest and highest paid, and in well-paid occupations.
As a result, home employment either reduces travel or eliminates it altogether. Many more employees, if it were possible to choose it, would do so. Initially, its most widespread use had a negative sign, considered a privilege for bosses and experienced professionals towards the west of their careers. The imposed condition due to a virus made it more socially acceptable.
Employees in London spend an average of 1 hour and 32 minutes to and from work with the data of 2019. Compared to the rest of Britain, the corresponding time reaches 60 minutes. Before the pandemic, 2/3 of those working in the city center used public transport for transportation, compared to 15% in smaller cities and 10% in the rest of the country. The public transport system saves energy compared to private cars, but again the transportation is time consuming, costly and energy consuming. Teleworking, of course, probably means less space for companies in large urban centers and more in secondary cities and suburbs, as well as at home.
Research shows that employers want their employees to spend 60% of their time in the office and the rest at home. Other studies involving employees show that the latter would prefer a reverse distribution rate, ie 40% or even 20% in the office. Although this shape is presented as the optimal combination, it can be the operator. Employees will still need to stay close to the office, abandoning the prospect of moving to a more remote and cheaper area, while also having to save space inside the home, so they may need more square footage. At the same time, they will pay the cost of transportation two or three times a week.