Sep 1, 2020 - Economy

Work-from-home is turning into work-from-anywhere

Illustration of a workspace desk at a tropical beach location

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It's not about working from home anymore. It's work from anywhere.

The big picture: In yet another example of how the pandemic is exacerbating inequality, lower-income Americans are doing front-line jobs or struggling to pay the bills, while richer workers are renting serene lakeside cabins and beautiful island villas as their employers extend telework timelines through the end of 2020 and beyond.

What's happening: Offices are closed, business trips are canceled and work retreats have been indefinitely postponed. Those with jobs that can be done remotely have realized that their physical presence won't be required anywhere for months.

  • The number of Airbnb reviewers mentioning "remote working" has tripled since last year, the company says. People are booking long-term stays — 28 nights or longer — in places like Whitefish, Montana; Shenandoah National Park in Virginia; and Windsor County, in central Vermont.
    • City dwellers are trying to get closer to nature by turning parks and beaches into their offices for the day.
  • Many wealthy New Yorkers who fled the city for second (or third) homes in the Hamptons, Palm Beach or Martha's Vineyard are staying in those spots through the winter. Enrollment in the Amagansett School, an elementary school serving a hamlet within East Hampton, New York, has doubled to 150 from 75 for this fall.

Tourist destinations are attempting to get people to take a yearlong, working vacation.

  • Barbados and Bermuda are offering telework visas.
  • And resorts from Hilton Head, South Carolina, to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic are whipping up special remote work and remote learning packages for families.

College students are part of the trend, too, the New York Times' Taylor Lorenz writes.

  • With scores of universities pursuing online learning this fall, groups of kids who don't want to be stuck at home with their parents are renting houses in places like Montana or Hawaii to do Zoom school together.
  • "These houses range in scale from lavish and pricey productions to smart, budget-friendly solutions for first generation, low-income students," Lorenz notes.
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