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Summary (in English)

This study set out to investigate if remote work opportunities post-pandemic has enlarged the area around the Nordic capitals that profit from their labour markets. However, case studies on five smaller towns located an hour and a half away from the capitals found little proof that remote work opportunities have made these towns more attractive. Although remote work is perceived as the new normal, municipalities reported that there are no formal strategies related to remote work and that they are uncertain as to what remote work opportunities will bring long term. A better understanding of who remote workers are and what specific needs they may have would help shape local strategies and policies. All in all, more time is needed to capture which remote work patterns will prevail long term and how these patterns might affect smaller towns near capital cities.
This study points to the centrality of urban attractiveness. Although municipalities did not have specific strategies for remote workers, remote workers were seen as part of a larger population of potential inhabitants. Interestingly, all the five towns seem to apply the same recipe to improve urban attractiveness although they have different points of departure. It is noted that features deemed to be central to attractivity do not differ dramatically between remote workers and other types of inhabitants. However, physical and digital infrastructure and housing potentially bear more weight in remote workers’ relocation decisions. Co-working spaces were, however, not deemed to have greater importance to remote workers in the five towns. This might be related to the wide-spread practice of hybrid work and preferences for working from home. The potential dominance of hybrid work, rather than pure remote work, also indicates that the zone around larger towns that has the potential to attract hybrid workers will have its limits and be strongly linked to time and ease of travel.
One potentially important result of the study is that in these five towns, remote or hybrid work is seen as a two-way exchange: it can attract new permanent or seasonal populations, but it can also be an opportunity to recruit highly qualified personnel not living in the town. Although, such arrangements do not lead to population increase, they assist in maintaining important functions and services that benefit the permanent population and hence make towns more attractive.
Research on remote work and its effects after the pandemic has only recently started and is very much a work in progress. It would be useful to follow the development in different locations over time in order to better understand its potential and limitations. More knowledge on the extent and characteristics of remote work in the local context can give input to what policy and planning measures are important to attract new populations and visitors. The report ends with some suggestions of future research.