Editorial: The Curious Politics of Distant Work | editorial workers

If the pandemic has done us any good, then it will usher in the age of zoom and what many “great thinkers” had advocated from the start, that the Internet would bring about the “death of distance” and enable people to live and work anywhere.

That was always the promise to rural areas, although it is usually a promise that has not been kept.

Rather than flattening the economy, the technological revolution of the past three decades has done just the opposite – focusing economic opportunity on a handful of go-go technopoles.

In theory, many workers in Silicon Valley could be anywhere. Instead, they’re mostly in Silicon Valley.

Still, there has been some movement as some remote workers have found they get along well in smaller communities like ours.

Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, Roanoke Times business journalist Casey Fabris documented how the Roanoke Valley now has the second highest rate of teleworking in the state – with 7.3% of the area’s workers setting up businesses from home. That was 10,500 teleworkers in the Roanoke Valley at the time. For comparison purposes, 15,644 workers were employed in the manufacturing industry at that time. That’s big enough to be a real industry.

After the pandemic broke out, there was some speculation in cities – and hopes in rural areas – that remote working could trigger large-scale displacement of workers.

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