The pandemic has exposed the worst kept secret in the world – we don’t need big fancy offices. They don’t benefit the company, the employees or investors. They are the dinosaurs of a past age – a time of corporate excess and ego. There have been several examples of companies coming to the realization how much money they can save by getting rid of these gilded cubicle farms. Turns out that instead of putting a running track on the roof above the accounting department, people would actually prefer to run in the park. Something that they can now do with the 90 minutes of their daily commute time refunded to them to spend as they wish.
So it’s sad days for commercial real estate owners, but happy days for the rest of us. One of the recent ideas from companies is to open small, clean, satellite offices that integrate nicely into existing communities. Workplaces that fit into the fabric of human life – instead of erecting a phallic symbol of a high PE ratio. This is progress my friends. Working from home combined with nearby support spaces is a great idea. We will still need to meet in person and develop giant moodboards in a child free environment. We just don’t need to do it every day. Remote working is here to stay. Now what does that mean for travel? The answer starts with the Xoom town:
Xoom town is a new term referring to smaller towns that have become super attractive to buyers due to the fact that they no longer have to shorten their lives with a grinding daily commute. People have discussed what the exact criteria may be, but it’s mostly a pleasant place to live with access to charming shops, nature and healthy air. Good schools are a bonus.
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So with all the remote working, how we travel is also changing. As I mentioned in this article, leisure travel is now the driving force ahead of business travel. Since everyone in the house is not driving everyday, we can adjust our car selection. We should be more open to sharing cars with friends, neighbors – and looking at fractional ownership of vehicles to reduce cost while still driving fun/interesting cars. If we only need a car 3 days a week, why pay for 7 days? Share it with a friend/neighbor – it’s a Win-Win.
Ebikes/escooters will also continue to grow – sales are red hot and will continue so – dramatically increasing the usefulness and range over a traditional bike. This is an exciting trend for everyone and will shine attention on improving road safety for riders and pedestrians – something desperately needed across the country.
It may also change how we travel for leisure. As cities work to attract more tourists to compensate for the loss of residents and business – they will work hard to show us their history, culture, food. This can spark a total revitalization and cultural rebirth for many of the world’s great cities. Over the past 20 years they have changed to become backdrops for new urban office concepts. This is a positive development we can hold up post pandemic.
So here’s to the Xoom town, the refocused city, the healthy employee and even the CFO who saved a bunch of shareholder cash. Onwards and upwards – the future can and will look bright again.
– Stew Langille