How The Remote Work Boom Has Affected The South

Remote Work

by AINSLEY LAWRENCE

Remote jobs provide employees with an unprecedented amount of freedom. For example, workers can now live in a completely different state, town, or country than their office address. Even hybrid work environments requiring a couple of days in the office give employees the option to move somewhere rural or suburban. A long commute here and there is worth more space and a cheaper cost of living.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March 2020, regions of the United States have experienced an influx of people while others faced a mass exodus. Thanks to warm weather, lower cost of living, open land, and fewer COVID-19 restrictions, people have flocked to the South in particular.

From North Carolina to Florida, the amount of remote work opportunities has skyrocketed. In cities like Asheville, N.C., 38.7 percent of all applications were for remote jobs in August 2021. According to the same LinkedIn survey, 33.1 percent of applications in Cape Coral, Fla. – considered a large city — were for remote jobs. These percentages have tripled on average since August 2020.

Additional Factors

The economy of metros like Orlando, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., rely heavily on tourism. When the pandemic annihilated that industry, many service workers switched to remote jobs for stability and higher pay. Across the country, restaurants have struggled to find staff willing to risk another series of closings and lockdowns.

Along with more secure conditions, the remote life also provides a work-life balance many had only dreamed of. Employees can grab a valuable package upon delivery, throw in a load of laundry, and make a last-minute doctor’s appointment, all while working. So, it’s no surprise a January 2021 survey found that almost half of remote employees never want to be confined to office cubicles again.

Workers themselves aren’t the only ones to profit from hybrid and remote working models. Employers and state officials also benefit from the “work from home” (WFH) transition. A completely remote office saves millions of dollars in office space. The price of a Zoom or Asana membership doesn’t compare. On top of that, according to a survey conducted by EisnerAmper’s National Business Summit, 70 percent of business owners reported an increase in productivity since implementing remote work.

The Positives and Negatives

From snowbirds to college students, the South has always been a hotspot. However, the pandemic created an even bigger push. A recent study by MyMove found that almost 16 percent of people relocated because of COVID-19. Out of the 10 cities that recently accumulated the most growth, eight were in either South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, or Florida. But, before planting roots in the South, it’s essential to research the political climate, amenities, and other factors. Each state has its own culture and unique qualities.

Not everywhere has the infrastructure to support a populace spike. However, most Southern states have fared well. New residents continue to enjoy lower insurance rates, scenic views, and overall Southern hospitality. Additionally, remote employees can spend money they’ve saved on a house with a dedicated office space and other assets that promote a healthy and happy work environment.

But Y’all Magazine also points out that rising populace numbers can threaten these benefits. For example, the cost of living inevitably goes up when more people live in a condensed area. An increase in unemployment rates and a decrease in property availability have also become prevalent issues. Significant metros like Atlanta have already experienced these side effects.

The newbies may drag in the exact things they sought to avoid. Sadly, the locals pay the price, too.

Despite the concerns, the South as a region can still profit significantly from a higher population. An influx of people can mean more workers, an improved economy, more children in the school districts, and rejuvenated small towns. Even those who live in the South but work remotely elsewhere contribute to the economy when buying goods and paying taxes.

Looking to Secure Remote Work?

Remote jobs can be a side hustle or a full-time gig. Since the South is home to many top universities and college towns, let’s start there. Undergrad and graduate students can easily earn money while taking classes to get a head start on student loans or just to earn extra cash.

For those who have access to a computer, the following options are available:

  • Website testing for sites like UserTesting
  • Designing for Print-on-Demand Sites such as RedBubble, Society6, and CafePress
  • Freelance writing, graphic design, or web development
  • Selling class notes on Nexus Notes and StudySoup

College students aren’t the only ones who benefit from remote side gigs. People from all walks of life are generating additional cash flow from the comfort of their homes.

As mentioned above, graphic design is an excellent option for remote work, especially for creatives. The American Graphics Institute in Boston offers in-person and online graphic design courses.

A Graphic Design Certificate offers a foundation in graphic design skills using modern digital tools. Students learn how to create illustrations, retouch images, and design layouts for distribution in digital and print formats. Participants can complete the 112-hour course as full-time or part-time students.

The South’s Future

Only time will tell how the continued Southern migration will play out. But, as far as remote and hybrid work goes, it’s here to stay. Companies have seen historical revenue growth and employee performance, even with downsides like lack of team bonding and increased mobile scrolling during work hours.

All in all, the South is still an excellent option for remote employees wanting a change of pace.

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