The model village: is this what life will look like in five years’ time?

Uhlbach, a suburb of Stuttgart amidst vineyards at the Neckar Valley - beautiful landscape in autum in Germany

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, people have been flocking to cities to make money. But now times are changing. Thanks to hybrid working and local flexspace, more rural areas, villages and towns are set to flourish

Thanks to the mainstream adoption of remote working, villages and towns around the world are undergoing a renaissance – they no longer empty out at the beginning of the day as commuters head into the nearest urban centre. Instead, people are staying in their neighbourhood and combining days working at home with time spent using local work hubs. This phenomenon is giving rise to the ‘model village’.

A recent study by IWG and Arup indicated that more than 75,000 full-time white-collar workers in the UK could benefit from working locally in new suburban IWG flexible office spaces by 2030, in addition to 198,000 in the USA, and 38,600 in Germany. What’s more, this could ultimately mean the historic ‘brain drain’ from the countryside to cities could, in fact, be reversed. Why live in a small home in a crowded, polluted city if you don’t need to?

Mark Dixon, founder and CEO of IWG, says: “We are seeing previously dormant towns and villages come back to life. With hundreds more rural and suburban flexible working locations expected to open in the coming years, we expect a wide range of vibrant local communities to develop with thriving businesses at their heart.”

In the UK alone, hybrid working will mean towns, villages and even rural locations across the country will benefit from an extra £327m per year, due to the anticipated expansion of flexible office and coworking spaces in these areas, with an associated increase in productivity to be worth more than £150m extra to the country’s economy.

Meanwhile, in the USA, IWG and Arup estimate that almost 200,000 white-collar workers could potentially move out of cities over the coming years, creating up to $1.3bn in spending in suburban and rural locations. And in Germany, IWG expects up to 38,600 full-time workers to relocate from urban centres.

This shift ties in with concept of the ‘15-Minute City’, which was developed by France’s Professor Carlos Moreno from the Sorbonne in Paris, who suggests that the key to a happy – and more environmentally friendly – life, is “human-sized spaces”. He says that everything we need for daily living – from parks and restaurants, schools and workspaces – should be easily accessible without the use of polluting transport.

In a TED Talk, Moreno says: “For too long, those of us who live in cities have accepted the unacceptable. We accept that in cities our sense of time is warped because we have to waste so much of it just adapting to the absurd organisation and long distances. People should be able to access work, housing, food, health, education, culture and leisure easily and within close proximity of their homes.”

Hybrid working – where people base themselves at a combination of the home, a local flexspace and occasionally at corporate HQ – is the ideal solution as it gives individuals a better work-life balance. For self-starters, time is especially precious, and wasting it on long commutes or paying to live in expensive city apartments rather than living in more affordable regional areas is simply no longer necessary. The remote revolution means all of us will live and work better.

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