Thanks to the continued growth in remote work- Zoom towns are making it easier than ever for people to work where they live. 

In the not too distant past, work was a place where you went and not necessarily the job that you did. Because of this, people would generally live as close to their place of work as possible. This was one of the biggest contributors to urbanisation. Along came COVID, and companies quickly started to realise that staff could work remotely from home. Staff were more productive and happier as less time was being spent commuting to and from the place of work. What was quite interesting is that once the hard lockdown (level 5 and 4) was removed, there was a migration from the major urban areas to smaller outlying towns. The move away from urban areas was largely due to the fact that people believed the lifestyle is just better. Rather than being confined to a typical urban dwelling smaller towns can offer the freedom to walk on the beach or in the mountains without having to get in a car and driving to these destinations. 

The Rise of Zoom Towns

Initially, the move away from urban centres was done on a temporary basis. What this taught us, however, is that we could move permanently to these smaller towns and live a better lifestyle, without reducing our income. This has given rise to what we now call Zoom towns, as people move from large urban areas to smaller lifestyle towns. Some examples of these areas in South Africa are Hermanus, Knysna, Mosselbaai and Plettenburg Bay in the Cape and Ballito, Salt Rock, Nottingham Road in KZN, White River, and Hazyview in Mpumulanga. 

In order for staff to stay productive and be able to work remotely, the remote work location has to offer basic infrastructure such as stable high-speed internet connectivity. With large scale fibre rollouts, urban flight trends will be made easier. Zoom towns are also seeing an increase in co-working spaces. These are offices where people can get all the modern office amenities without having to take the risk of signing long term rental contracts. The co-working offices also provide a great platform where people from out of town can get to meet other like-minded people, making it easier to integrate into the local community. 

While a few of us are able to work permanently from home, the majority still feel more comfortable doing work in an office space. Companies that are embracing the remote working concept are finding it more cost-effective to give their staff an allowance, which staff can use to pay for their co-working offices.

Moving to smaller towns also has financial benefits for individuals. For one, travelling costs could be reduced, as most amenities like schools and shops are either a short drive away or might be within walking distance. This saves fuel costs – in some cases, you can even get away with a single car for the entire family. This means getting rid of additional car payments. In some cases, house prices and rentals are lower than those in larger urban areas, which further reduces household expenses. Family entertainment costs get less, too. It costs nothing to spend the day on the beach or hiking in the mountains. Stress levels come down, as hours are not spent getting from one place to the next, everything is in close proximity, and crime levels may be lower than you would experience in larger urban areas. 

As technology improves and companies embrace remote working, Zoom towns will continue to benefit from the urban flight. While large cities certainly will not disappear, those who can work where they live will now be able to make that choice, with little disruption.

Co.Unity offers a fully equipped co-working space in the heart of Hermanus – one of South Africa’s leading coastal towns. View our current packages to find flexible solutions that suit your needs or contact us today to learn more about Hermanus and what makes it one of South Africa’s top-ranked Zoom towns.

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