Remote Worker Programs - Comparative Evaluation

Remote work has increased rapidly in recent years, largely in response to improvement in internet communications and a mindset shift from employers. This trend has been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced workers and companies to quickly adopt new sets of remote practices. In response to this shift, remote worker incentive programs, which pay participants to relocate to, and live in, a specific community for a defined period of time, have become one of the hottest new innovations in local economic development. ROC2025 engaged CGR to conduct an analysis of three new remote worker programs: Tulsa Remote, Remote Shoals and Choose Topeka. CGR collected and analyzed participation data and interviewed staff at each program, and analyzed publicly available data on Vermont’s Think!VT program. We found that remote worker incentive programs have significant potential to generate positive economic returns for an area, but only at scale. Additionally, we found that the financial incentive provided is not the sole factor in attracting remote workers. Rather, it acts as a “tipping point” for people who are attracted to other factors such as cost of living, desire for community, and preexisting ties to the area. Finally, we emphasized the importance of prioritization among at least three plausible goals of remote worker programs: generating economic return, branding and publicizing a region and community, and recruiting impactful community members. Some tradeoffs between these priorities may be inevitable.

Report Date: Jan 2021
Author(s): Alice Carle , Kieran Bezila
Subject(s): Surveys & Analysis , Economic Analysis
Location: Monroe, New York