Remote working has been steadily on the rise over the last few years. Companies from Product Hunt to Buffer have all taken remote-friendly attitudes to work in order to acquire the best talent available — showing that talent is truly globally distributed. Of course, remote working has benefits for employees to including access to better financial management, no relocation etc. However, there are still a few key issues that remote workers face every day that make working remotely very difficult.
In 2018, cities around the United States have attempted to help resolve some of these issues, and create the perfect environment for remote workers to live, and work in. Both Tulsa and Vermont have recently passed legislation that makes it easier for remote workers to move to the cities by providing them with the financial and housing support that they need to thrive, and add value to the city. This opportunity has gained the attention of remote workers around the globe and it creates an interesting thought — can governments help remote workers be more efficient?
A supportive community
The main benefit of programs like Tulsa Remote and Vermont’s remote worker program is that they allow you to join a community of supportive remote workers, who can inform you of the opportunities available in the city, and share their advice as a remote worker in-person. Tulsa Remote offers access to co-working spaces in the city so you can collaborate with fellow makers and entrepreneurs from the start. Whenever you experience a problem, you will always know where to go.
This can be very beneficial because remote working can often feel impersonal, especially if you rely on email or Slack to communicate. By having the ability to reach out to fellow remote workers in-person and share your experiences, you can develop healthier relationships, and curb the sense of loneliness often associated with remote working. As these programs scale, the resources available to remote workers will grow, making way for new people to enter into remote working who have always worked in a traditional office setting.
Although this seems obvious, moving to cities like Tulsa allow you to get more in touch with people and become more embedded in a community, as smaller startup communities rely on the support of everyone to scale. Moreover, you will be able to learn about a new local culture, have new experiences in the city, and benefit from being closer with nature, which can all help you grow as a person.
Stipend for relocation
One of the most important benefits cities like Tulsa provide is access to a stipend of $10,000 for relocation expenses, and to keep things running smoothly during your first month in the city. This should offer a great sense of relief for remote workers, as they have a sense of security when moving, and this also make it easier to decide if a remote-friendly city is the right move for you.
In addition, many remote workers are looking for a way to move into a more tech-centralized area to improve upon productivity, and cultivate meaningful relationships in real life. The cash that these cities offer will also be useful to develop more in-person connections, and gain a firmer grasp of the local community, whether through attending local tech events or going to co-working spaces.
The motive behind these programs is to help attract strong talent to growing startup communities, which means that the cost of living can be significantly lower than you are used to. While this may not apply to international workers from smaller regions, this can be very beneficial for those moving from cities that may not be as invested in tech towards those with a strong tech and startup presence. For example, compared to San Francisco, Tulsa living costs are around 50 per cent lower, which means that you have more money to spend freely, and further engage with the community.
Experience of technological growth
Relocating to a city like Vermont also allows you to experience first-hand what it looks like to be part of a growing technology community that has many places where you can help out. In places like Silicon Valley, it can be easy to get lost in all of the discussions about existing tech and VC, whereas in rising tech cities, you can help the city grow into a technology hub. Right now the cities that are developing these programs are those that are looking to revitalize local communities and help them become more technologically engaged.
Working in a rising tech community can help you make more connections in business. It can also teach you best practices from experts and gain experience in community development, which may be helpful in the work you are already doing. The connections that you cultivate can be very helpful in the future, and provide you with a network of people who can empathize with you, and be there when you are struggling with remote working.
A culture of experimentation is also often present in new tech communities, which creates the perfect environment for collaborating, developing new ideas, and making an impact while you are working. In cities like Tulsa, you will have the opportunity to help the startup community grow and try different methods to help facilitate that growth, helping you to further develop critical skills like creativity, as well as a sense of ambition.
The aforementioned programs do have restrictions. The first and most important is the fact you have to be authorized to work in the US, which makes it difficult for the international community of remote workers. These programs do not provide visa sponsorship or any immigration assistance. However, if you are working on a startup or a company that sponsors visas there may be options open to you. I believe that if these programs take off, cities will start to make introductions to immigration support to encourage international talent to apply and move to their cities.
Moreover, there are the traditional issues of moving to take into consideration. Moving to another city is a very labor-intensive and time-consuming process that can bring up a variety of different issues. While Tulsa and Vermont offer relocation assistance, there is still the matter of preparing to move which can be a burden, as well as all of the other intricacies associated with moving. In addition, these programs are not well suited to those who are not looking to join a small but steadily growing startup community, when most remote workers want to move either closer to their headquarters, or to a bigger startup community.
Remote working is the future
We are entering a stage where many workers are moving out of traditional tech hubs like San Francisco, and moving to other cities that are more affordable, and integrate better with their lives in terms of culture, finance etc. The decentralization of skilled workers in technology is an inevitability, and the fact that governments are intervening to help embrace this change is a step in the right direction.
Over the next few years, I believe that tech communities will become more globally distributed, and rely on remote workers to help empower this change. Local government interest in projects that assist remote workers should also help spread the image that you do not have to be in Silicon Valley to work in tech, but in fact you can do it from the comfort of your own home. Moreover, these programs allow you access to an opportunity to relocate with all the support you need, otherwise unavailable to many people.
This program is a great first step in helping decentralization to occur, and provides not only a structured path for remote workers who want to relocate, but also for those thinking about working remotely. The program also helps people become more cultured, meet new remote workers, and develop a new relationship with a growing tech community.