Why is the remote worker the new tourist?

Until now, to monetize our apartment or vacation home on AirBnB, we knew the photo codes:  for Paris, it was the rooftops, a postcard bistro or breakfast croissants.  For Brittany it was hydrangeas in full bloom, a chaise longue in the garden and a fire in the chimney…until lately that is, and for obvious reasons.  Clients (American and European) are becoming rare?  What’s to be done?  The worldwide vacation rental company has THE solution, and sent a note addressed to all its “hosts” on how to update their listings in pandemic times.  Instead of underling the “cozy” side of your place, with photos of bear rugs and modernist furniture, you now have to put the emphasis on “work friendly”:  how many desks are there or ergonomic chairs?  Is there a printer? And especially is there a good Wi-Fi connection that doesn’t crash if you are on several zoom meetings at the same time.  AirBnB suggests that you invest in extenders.  And even slip in a screen shot of a Wi-Fi debit test (!) between a photo of the fireplace and the Italian shower.  As to those “superhosts”, the top of the line group, they go so far as installing a hot drink bar (tea, coffee, kettle, thermos…) and including in the welcome basket…felt tipped pens, cables and notebooks. 

Turning a secondary residence into a co-working space isn’t a dumb idea at all.  Remote working, like nail polish, is now semi-permanent.  After weeks of working cooped up in an apartment with the spouse and kids, people are starting to realize they can remote work…somewhere else, far from supermarkets and crowded subways.  Last year demand for long-term rentals at AirBnB grew by leaps and bounds, as did the comments about tele working (+128%).  The movement started in those big US cities most impacted by the virus:  New Yorkers rushed to the Catskills or the Hudson Valley.  According to a New York Times poll, one third of tele-workers planned on moving to another city or state if the crisis lasted.  And here we are.  Europeans, often considered less “mobile”, have followed suit.  With the pandemic, digital nomadism (considering the world as your office if your job and means allow) has spread as well.

The front line?  Young tech workers, thirty somethings that have a little money and no family yet to support.  Their employers (Twitter, Amazon, AirBnB…) have mostly closed their offices until at least summer 2021 and encourage movement (AirBnB workers receive coupons to use on the site).  You can no longer travel for pleasure? Then why not take advantage of tele-working to momentarily move to an exotic faraway country, Mexico, Costa Rica, Thailand or Southern Europe?  At least then, on weekends, or between two zoom meetings you can profit from a less routine environment, more open-air.  For the lucky ones, they can even take a dip in the pool…or learn to surf.  It’s not by chance that the south of Portugal is one of the preferred destinations at “coworkations”, those new roommates/workmates of the young professionals locked out of their offices. 

You can’t find any of your colleagues to do it with?  In the US there are lots of new agencies that have sprung up who will do just that.  At Coworkations for example, there are still places available for a future “remote work trip” in Medellin, in Tuscany or in Cape Town.  Around 1200 $ for 2 weeks, living accommodations included, plus access to a co-working space and introductions to other digital nomads. This formula has more and more success with Americans, who can finally, vive Covid, travel without depleting their meager stock of vacation days.  You’re not a fan of package tours, you’re more of a backpacker?  The site Nomadlist tells you exactly the pros and cons of this kind of trip anywhere in the world.  We checked out the remote working in Timisoara for you, apparently it’s unbeatable! 

At the opposite end of the spectrum there is the option of tele working from a sublime resort in the Antilles, Central America or the Maldives.  Work in a palace between the pool and the beach while the wife is at the spa and a private tutor teaches the children.  Many countries that live (or lived) on tourism (Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Mexico…but also Georgia, Spain and Portugal) now offer special visas which allow you to work for several months without any administrative hassle.  And once deserted hotels now offer attractive packages to draw in rich businessmen in the 40’s and 50’s and their families.  Marriott Hotels launched their new program “Work Anywhere” with a “digital butler” that takes care of all your needs from connections, printers, WIFI to beach huts. The Bangkok Hyatt Regency will welcome you for less than 100 USD per night…if you stay for at least one year! (including massages, unlimited spa access and the possibility of a 10-night escapade at the Pucket Hyatt).  In Cap Cana (Dominican Republic) you can use your remote work trip to learn business Spanish.  As to the Work Well package from the resort Vakkaru in the Maldives,  besides the habitual massages, yoga classes, healthy snacks, they promise to upgrade you to a huge villa with work space, printer and office supplies…a real dream for some, but there is one downside:  how are we going to complain, “Oh no, it’s Monday again!”? 

Photo : @vakkarumaldives