CITIES rebrand, STATES reposition [2021 trends]

Working from home-office was THE topic of the 2020 employees’ debates and certainly phenomenon worth several blogs. However, what is interesting that the debate was led mainly on micro level: What it means for the comfort and being of the individual worker (and his household). As much as it feels relatable to many of us, maybe to your surprise, how to work from particular place (being it your very flat or well internet-connected cottage in woods) is not the main aftermath of this trend. The actual impact happens on region or even country level.

And seismic impact it is. But let’s explain it step by step. In pre COVID times, employer was picking WHO will be working for them, WHERE will they sit (or work from) and WHAT will they do. Global pandemic shook the employer’s reality and then forced employer to pick only 2 out of W’s of the past. In desperate situation and under extreme pressure, companies decided to keep power about WHO and WHAT. In other words, in middle of COVID, also of sudden employer was happy enough that his workforce did what was needed from wherever the employee could. Nobody questioned you where from you gonna make your video calls during quarantine or lock-down, as long as your internet connection from there was strong enough to make it.

This “choose WHERE YOU CAN (or want) work/live from” is more impactful than you might think after first reading. Because I am quite sure you can name long list of places that beat your apartment in where you would like to spend quarantine. Let’s assume some of that places are equally safe and offer better or at par services as your home location. And your employer does not mind you working from there, your salary will still come, your bills still paid. How tempted would you be to (temporarily) move there?

Does not have to be beach house (or it might), can be literally any place that you would feel better in. Yes, in 2020 many realized that being German citizen and tele-working from French Riviera (Austrian Alp resort or Madeira island) is neither sci-fi, not that much of the bad idea. Ok, so you moved there and now you learn that this wonderful location also asks half your recent tax rate (if you only consider moving your permanent stay there,  with few signs or even clicks). Do you see where this is rolling?

Yes, COVID pandemic made it clear, how easy is to decouple your official, paper life from the real one. Add disillusion about how badly the pandemic was treated by your (local) government or municipality (felt by Britts or most of the CEE countries citizens) and you are on edge of “Hey this XY region feels much more home than I would admit before trying.” Year 2020 opened round of identity porting and countries enter competition for this porting’s (even if their governments don’t realize).

Reading these thoughts from experts of top-notch technology magazine, as WIRED certainly is, sends shivers down my spine. As I speculated about this to happen in video interview (in Slovak here) with futurist Andrej Tichy year and half back. Now we see this taking off. Wow! Feels both special and weird at the same time.

Admitting the trend makes you think, how to ride it. If you are ordinary person, dream up. Don’t get yourself locked down (literally) to something which was not your place of choice but happened to be just close to your work. Of course, if your kids go to school here or you have senior parent to take care of, things get a bit less rosy. But would not this other place be actually better for them, too?

More importantly, if you are mayor, regional MP or government member, take quality time to think about what makes location (you lead) special for REAL life. Nice nature, great cuisine, or lots of culture events? Magnify it! And brag about it! (in this sequence, please) Cities are competing for citizens, often in most rudimentary things you can think of. (Like Indian city of Mongla who for great flood prevention system is magnet for Bangladesh migrants torn by horrific landslides and flooding’s in their home country). Inevitable climate change will make “pick another location for life” real strategy for tens of millions.

States need to rethink and reposition as well. How much more do you get (for your taxes) as a citizen from German government than from Austrian or Dutch, which are one fuel-tank away from you? How do you keep citizenship of people who want to live in (climate) locations your country could not offer? What can state remotely offer its citizens choosing to live in (far) abroad? Solving health issues coming from COVID is important. But countries, regions and cities enter now completely different level of game. If you open eyes enough to see this coming …



Publikované dňa 10. 1. 2021.