The rise of remote work and its impact on mountain communities

The rise of remote work and its impact on mountain communities

The percentage of people working from home has nearly trebled since 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown employers that with some trust, flexibility, and the right resources, their employees are more than capable of carrying out their work from wherever they are. This demonstration of how productive people can be in surroundings of their choosing has led to better work-life balance, trials for the four-day work week, and the rise of remote work.

One of the growing remote work trends is people taking this freedom as an opportunity to travel and move abroad. Being a digital nomad is now easier than ever, and work has become one less reason to not see more of the world. For those who love skiing and snowboarding, who previously had to keep their hobbies caged to the confines of annual leave, this means the chance at a new lifestyle. One where your morning commute can be taken by ski lift.

How realistic is transforming your after-work drinks into après ski? And is this a welcome change for the locals in these sought-after locations?

The impact of remote work on mountain communities in Zermatt, Verbier, and Crans-Montana

When describing aspects of traditional alpine life, the Swiss tourism company My Switzerland describes the mountains as a place ‘where life depends entirely on the rhythm of nature.’ Many people use the flexibility of remote working to pay a little more attention to their circadian rhythms, and the idea of living in a place where more of your day can be dictated by natural forces is definitely appealing. It’s no wonder that people are being encouraged to work in these coveted communities.

What does this mean for the locals, both born and bred and newly established? Well, in Crans-Montana school admissions are increasing by 35% a year thanks to families relocating to the area. In 2021 a new international school was opened in Verbier to accommodate the large number of parents looking for high-quality international education for their children as they relocate to their favourite ski resorts. 

As well as this, many companies in ski resort towns are starting to offer ‘high-speed internet connection, coworking spaces, and accommodations’ to encourage remote workers to give in to the addictive digital ‘snowmad’ lifestyle. This co-working office in Zermatt offers meeting rooms and spaces that can be rented from as little as an hour, all the way up to a month.

The benefits of living in a mountain community for remote workers

More than simply changing the view outside your office window, settling down in the mountains presents you with a chance to transform your entire lifestyle. 

Living somewhere surrounded by natural beauty is bound to improve both your physical and mental health, even if you’re not someone who can see themselves on the slopes every day. These benefits will have direct repercussions for both your work and personal life. And if you are a skier, the thought of trading in your morning jog or gym session for the chance to improve your skills will have you itching to reach for your poles.

Residing in these beautiful places year round also gives you the chance to experience mountain life off-season, giving you better access to the activities you love, and introducing you to new things - sans hoards of tourists. If you opt for somewhere in the Alps, you’ll be moving to a mountain range that spans seven countries - broadening your travel horizons dramatically.

You’re also likely to develop a social circle made up of people with similar interests, but varied and interesting backgrounds. And, if you’ve ever wanted to learn a new language, living abroad is one of the best ways to tick this desire off your bucket list. Children are even better at picking up new languages than adults, so there’s also the potential to set your kids up nicely for future prospects with the bonus of a second language.

The challenges of living in a mountain community as a remote worker

Making the switch to this lifestyle doesn’t come without its challenges. Even though the weaker pound and higher resort charges in recent years aren’t enough to keep people away, this consistent demand causes issues in itself.

A few of the pitfalls you’ll have to negotiate when chasing this alpine dream as a remote worker include:

  • Caps on second home ownership in Swiss resorts, coupled with more demand from local residents. However, regular visitors who already own property are opting to upsize their holiday homes, making them more suited to working from home, and leaving potential for first-time chalet buyers.
  • There’s no denying that resort towns tend to be expensive - to the point where people will sometimes cross international borders to find a cheaper grocery shop.
  • Because of the demand and the expenses, you might not be able to find a property in the centre of all the hustle and bustle. Will you be happy in the relative wilderness, where bad weather could cut you off from the world for a little while? Depending on your line of work, you may find this reason to focus as a benefit.
  • Lots of aspects of mountain life are very seasonal - you’ll have to expect some amenities to be closed for off-season and plan accordingly. 

To summarise

For many of us, Covid-19 helped us to realise how short life is, and how much time we would rather be spending doing the things we enjoy. Remote working has proven that the traditional 9-5 is on its way out, and we’re all more than capable of working on our own terms, when given the opportunity to do so. If you’ve been waiting for a sign, consider this is it. And if it’s still a dream on the horizon, it doesn’t hurt to do a little research in preparation.

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