A surge in one-person businesses, fuelled in part by mobile and Wi-Fi technology, is seeing the continual rise of the ‘small office home office’ (SoHo) worker.

As technology advances and more businesses introduce flexible working arrangements, the need to go ‘into the office’ is diminishing and a transformation in the way we work is coming.

What this means for property is that more city workers will have the option to live in more affordable lifestyle locations that have good access back to the city when required.

Working in SoHo is one of the hottest future trends what we analysed in our latest annual McGrath Report.

Imagine being able to pay off your home much sooner, spend every afternoon at the beach, take a 10 minute drive to everything, live for less and still earn a big city salary? That’s the lifestyle of a future generation of teleworkers who won’t need to live in expensive cities to earn a living.

In a 2015 report* commissioned by nbn™, social demographer Bernard Salt describes a new Australian dream where work fits around lifestyle. Fast broadband will allow more people to work when and where they like, with workplaces switching focus to what is delivered rather than serving the traditional 9 to 5. 

According to ABS figures, 8.5% of the workforce operates as a sole-person business; and one in 12 employees spend more time working from home than any other location.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has some additional figures. They say one in two Australians are already considered ‘digital workers’ who use the internet to work away from the office part-time, full-time or outside normal hours.

A typical digital worker is aged 35 to 44, university qualified and lives in a major capital city. They work for medium-sized businesses (20-199 employees) and more than a third telecommute three-plus days per week. But soon enough, more of them will be working remotely on a permanent basis.

As Bernard Salt says in the report, “The Australian penchant for lifestyle locations such as seachange and treechange might be enhanced as more people set up businesses or deliver work via the internet from wherever they choose to live.”

Workplaces are increasingly recognising the benefits of digital employees, including the ability to hire the best of the best no matter where they are located; heightened productivity because teleworkers are not subjected to the usual office distractions; and greater staff retention because employees will appreciate this new style of flexibility.

Right now in Sydney, we are seeing a growing trend in senior executives and empty-nesters heading to the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and the North Coast where they can work from home part-time, enjoy a better lifestyle and commute to Sydney with ease.

We believe more young families will join this trend, propelled not only by new and flexible employment opportunities but also by rising property values in major cities, which limits them in terms of home size and discretionary spending after paying the mortgage.

With every Australian expected to have access to the NBN by 2020, the population outside capital cities is expected to swell from 8 million today to 10 million in 2030, according to the report.

*Source: ‘Towards a Super Connected Australia’ report