Cities around the world are crunched for space. By 2030, the UN projects that 60 percent of the global population will live in urban centers. The housing shortage in the San Francisco Bay Area is already so acute, Google recently announced a $1 billion commitment to help address the problem.

It’s an issue that might improve in the short term with more homes and better infrastructure, but Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel believes a sustainable future lies in a different direction. In an editorial for Quartz at Work, Kasriel explains why it’s time to factor remote work into our urban planning.

“[Government and business leaders] can create more precise plans and creative incentives to make remote work more appealing for people across industries,” he wrote.

Citing recent campaigns in Oklahoma and Vermont, he explained the opportunity to attract workers to secondary cities, towns, and rural areas: “If this practice were more commonplace, we would see that a more established remote work culture can truly make a positive impact in wealth, health, and society at large.”

 

Workers increasingly choose to work outside the office:

  • Studies show two in three workers worldwide are already working outside the office at least one day a week.
  • Nearly 70 percent of young managers in the U.S. say they allow team members to work remotely
  • According to U.S. Census data, the population of people working from home grew four times faster than the overall working population between 2005 and 2017.

And studies show that flexible work programs help remote workers be happier, healthier, and more productive than colleagues who are tied to an office.

Kasriel said that embracing this trend with forward-thinking urban planning could help address liveability challenges such as affordability, traffic, pollution, and productivity: “Shifting to a formal remote work plan would not only solve [these problems], but turn it into an opportunity by boosting development and economy outside major cities.”

Read the full article on Quartz at Work.