The new meaning of a remote lifestyle in 2020
By Asha Nanavati
January 2020 had such promise, the start of a new decade, economies were generally booming and Wall Street had never looked better. A remote lifestyle on January 1st of this year was synonymous with being free, on the road, exploring the world and living a global lifestyle. I should know being an American expat living in South Asia with the ability to travel maybe once or twice a year, living remotely and working online meant adventure, discovery and promise.
Many generations including Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z have come to see the world as their playground where remote work signified freedom and opportunity. According to one of the larger remote recruiting websites, Flexjobs, in a report they did jointly with the Global Workplace Analytics, they found that remote workers have increased 159% from 2005 to 2017 with a 44% increase from 2012-2017 alone. Less job stress, more flexibility, and the sheer ability to work remotely were all attributed to making a remote global lifestyle not only desirable but a more productive option. I can definitely testify to this statistic as an American expat living in South Asia. I do remote work with clients around the world which has enabled me to give back my time to an educational non-profit in South India, something that would not have been easily possible in the early 2000’s.
Here’s the thing, work-life balance takes on a whole new meaning when there is a life and death aspect to it. If you had asked me on January 1st, if I could imagine that UC Berkeley, UCLA , Stanford University, and my Alma mater Syracuse University all would turn to online instruction, I would have told you we were dreaming of the next sci-fi movie by Terrence Malick. Frankly the list mentioned in a CNN article dated March 12th, was staggering, as was the fact that entire companies are going dark around the world – at least from their home offices. According to a CNBC post on March 11th, Twitter and Google US offices are requiring their employees to work remotely from home as a moral responsibility to curtail the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic with even Amazon asking for remote arrangements from their CA, NY, and Washington State offices that are in some of the most badly hit states.
Remote, overnight, has become the state of being around the word but it has also changed our perception of home sweet home. The stark and thought provoking images of graffiti artist, Banksy, that I photographed last year when I visited the Moco Museum in Amsterdam, take on a new meaning to life. Remote now means survival, life and possibility to millions around the world.