E-change is coming – will you get on board?

Photo credit - Alejandro Escamilla via unsplash.com

Photo credit – Alejandro Escamilla via unsplash.com

Ever fancied a flexible life? Living where you want and working how you want? It seems that lots of people do and lots more will as e-changers!

A recent report commissioned by NBNco shows that about one-in-six Australians are evolving a lifestyle option that is a fused version of tree-change, sea-change and e-change.  In essence they are tired of the demands of commuting to work. The report’s author, Bernard Salt, suggests that what Australians want is “greater control over where they live and how they work.”

What is an e-change?
E-change is a term coined by Salt. He says it is the idea of giving up the city and suburban commute in favour of a lifestyle town, while maintaining your job by telecommuting. Salt suggests that that this fusion of tree-change and sea-change with e-change, will give us greater control over our lives – at home and at work. This presupposes we are able to do our job from home, and that it will be enabled by the super-connectivity that the nbn™ offers.

76% of Australian seachangers are happy with their lifestyle
>40% of respondents have considered a seachange or treechange
(Salt, 2016, p. 4)

Other statistics presented in the report provide some insight into the “whys” behind the increased number of e-changers. To questions about lifestyle happiness, responses showed:

  • 17% were unhappy about the time spent travelling to and from work
  • 14% were unhappy with the time spent with family
  • 18% were unhappy with the time spent with friends
  • 18% were unhappy with the time spent pursuing hobbies and interests
  • 55% were unhappy about the cost of living

The main reasons for making an e-change (to date) was 31% cost of living and 72% lifestyle happiness.

5 lifestyle reasons why 1 in 5 baby-boomers are selling up and relocating

  • 65% better living environment
  • 55% slower pace of life
  • 29% housing affordability
  • 26% interests and hobbies
  • 15% escape from traffic

The report proposes that more people will move to lifestyle towns when there is improved connectivity. The prediction?

This is a social movement just waiting to happen. Roll out super connectivity made available by access to the nbn™ network in the 2020s and Australians will look at ways of telecommuting from any of the by-then, 650 towns within striking distance of capital cities. 
(Salt, 2016, p. 7).

What and where are the lifestyle towns?
The destinations of these e-changers is said to be lifestyle towns where people have access to a capital city, find quality of life and have good connectivity. Well actually – they said super connectivity – but that’s really an advertisement for nbn™ which promises to deliver that of course. If they do deliver and this predicted trend has credence, there will be lots of positive spin-offs for regional Australia. There is an Australia-wide listing of these in the report.

Social change → workplace change?
I guess the other question is, are we ready for increased numbers of people to be working remotely? In some industries and businesses there will be quite a mindset shift required to enable this to happen. Not only will it need to happen at management level but also in workplace cultures. The general attitude in some workplaces is that working from home = having a day off.

The trend has already started

Photo credit - Tim Gouw via unsplash.com

Photo credit – Tim Gouw via unsplash.com

Salt cites the changing demographics in Australian towns, noting particularly growth in those clustered around capital cities. The trend to tree-change and sea-change is well established. Added to that, there are growing numbers of contractors and consultants that emerge from industry restructuring and corporate downsizing.

Michael McQueen (Business Insider) in reporting on workplace trends for 2015, suggested the freelancer economy is on the rise. It is cheaper for employers to hire temps and consultants because there are fewer benefits to pay. 30% of Australians work as freelancers in some capacity and McQueen proposes this will increase to up to 50% by 2020 if we follow US trends.

McQueen’s trend predictions included flexible work and telecommuting becoming more mainstream. He cites the impact of this on global company Cisco (see below).

Source: 6 Trends That Will Define The Workplace In 2015, McQueen, January 2015.

Source: 6 Trends That Will Define The Workplace In 2015, McQueen, January 2015.

The shift in employment arrangements
The growth trend in home businesses, freelancing arrangements and business-owner entrepreneurial endeavours sounds exciting. It requires a different way of managing our affairs though. While it may be considered “cool” to become an entrepreneur, some business people have suggested (to me) that they represent the “new poor” because they are not contributing to superannuation and other investments for later life.

Work space

Inspire9 – third space in Richmond, Melbourne. Photo credit – http://edge.alluremedia.com.au/uploads/businessinsider/2014/06/inspire9.jpg

Remote work and the ability to work anywhere, means many people utilise “third place” style work locations. These can be cafés, libraries, bars or other purpose-built facilities that provide for remote workers. They provide resources such as office work and meeting spaces as well as access to internet, printers and other business equipment.

Will e-working work for you?
E-working is something that I am hoping to do more of. The technology enablers are improving all the time, and high speed internet access is a boon for these initiatives. That’s all good in the city, but will we wait to see if nbn™ will deliver as promised, in a timely way.

What about you? Are you an e-worker? Would you share with us the benefits and challenges of this work style?

In the next few weeks, I talk to various flexible life-stylers and how they make work, work for them.


One Trackback

  1. […] Clunes is where the first gold was discovered in Victoria. It is coming into its own again as one of the lifestyle towns I wrote about in E-change is coming …  […]

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