Zoom Town, USA

Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA, roughly matching the Pentagon’s footprint. What will become of the building if Silicon Valley workers flee the Bay Area for Zoom Towns?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought upheaval to healthcare, economics, and politics. Marketing is tumultuous as well with numerous industries, such as hospitality, traditional retail, and entertainment, suffering severe downturns.

Marketers are hoping for post-pandemic rebounds, but changes in the external forces comprising the marketing environment may be long-lasting, creating the proverbial “new normal.” WFH—Work from Home—has been the professional status for millions since spring. But unlike schooling from home which will wind down when the pandemic ends, WFH is showing signs of permanence.

The external forces driving WFH:

  • Technological: Digital devices, broadband internet, and cloud computing have enabled the diffusion of workforces. Telecommuting is not a new phenomenon, but the tech behind it allowed the rapid emptying of traditional offices.
  • Economic: Companies can reduce real estate costs by continuing WFH—in short, transferring the financial burden of office space to workers. Many organizations are planning to reduce their footprint.
  • Sociological: Many workers are enjoying the convenience and flexibility of WFH. Commuting time becomes time for self care and family.

More profound transformations loom as workers reconsider the “H” in WFH, addressing affordability and congestion while remaining employed and productive. Large corporations congregate in major metros with high housing prices and heavy traffic. These burdens are particularly acute in the San Francisco Bay Area surrounding Silicon Valley. Now the companies powering the WFH movement are loosening office requirements for their own workers. The result: people are moving out of the Bay Area and keeping their coveted jobs.

WFH has spawned a new buzzword: Zoom Town, a housing market booming with newly arrived remote workers (by now, everyone should be familiar with Zoom, the ubiquitous video conferencing platform powering meetings, lectures, small church groups, and other pandemic-era virtual gatherings). Some zoom towns are toney getaways like the Hamptons and Aspen, CO. But any town can become a zoom town with the right mix of amenities.

Per SWOT analysis, zoom towns create opportunities for some—overall businesses in destination communities, the tech companies we use to connect, manufacturers of home office furniture. Zoom towns create threats for others—commercial and residential real estate owners in cities experiencing exodus, businesses dependent on workers in current corporate hubs. Market environmental forces are shifting. Marketers must shift with them.

Genesis 19:22 ESV

Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.

Can working from home make people more productive while improving their quality of life? If so, should this lifestyle also improve their walk with the Lord?

Do you think WFH is a permanent change in American society? How should Christian marketers deal with the trend when it presents opportunities? When it presents threats?

Zoom call photo by Office of Ruben Gallego, United States Congress – https://twitter.com/RepRubenGallego/status/1248049820855603204/photo/1, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=92600208

Apple HQ photo by Daniel L. Lu (user:dllu) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69553418

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