The Covid pandemic has been a major hit to the world as we know it, but it can also result in some positive changes. Namely that it can act as an impetus for a changed world of work, one that prioritises digital connectivity over territorial proximity. Can this new model change the face of the Algarve?
If you listen to most adults when they talk about their working lives, you hear complaints about stress, exhaustion and financial problems. They long for holidays and struggle with seasonal depression. Increasingly, the workplace determines where they live, forcing compromises that are rationally necessary but do not necessarily make them happy. Affordable housing in metropolitan areas is becoming increasingly scarce and many therefore accept long commutes to combine quality of life and the workplace.
For many, the pandemic was a wake-up call of sorts, as suddenly the business world was forced into finding alternatives to a fixed workplace. Working from home during a pandemic can be tedious when neither the right work environment nor the right desk exists and children also demand their attention. But what if you remove these bottlenecks and set up a comfortable working environment, away from the office? Sure, digital existence doesn’t work for all professions either, and it has its drawbacks; access to informal lunchtime chats with colleagues are not something you want to permanently miss, but why not claim the best of both worlds?
As recently as 2019, it was uncommon to ask a business partner to connect via Zoom. Teleconferencing existed, but it was just a substitute for the normal course of business. Today, it’s more than normal and de-stresses a lot of work by suddenly freeing up time allotments that were previously blocked by simple logistical issues.
Covid has triggered a mind shift, which can turn into the next industrial revolution and bring the topic of “digital nomads” to the public’s attention. Thanks to this a fast internet-connection is now becoming more important than a short distance to the customer or the workplace.
What if the nearest Silicon Valley is nowhere – or more precisely, everywhere? As a general rule of human civilisation, we have lived where we work, but the office of the future may no longer be a specific space in an office, but a combination of physical spaces and virtual office resources. Companies and individuals are slowly waking up to the fact that a formal office is unnecessary in many cases. Experiments with sharing desks within an office have been around for many years. Now people are toying with moving these desks spatially as well.
The end of summer once meant the end of holidays and a return to normal life, but that is completely different now and for the foreseeable future.
If you can log into your morning meeting and close a deal from your own dining table, why can’t you do it from, say, a winery near the beach? Live in the Algarve, work in Lisbon, Paris, London or Berlin.
It’s a new philosophy of work that you can pursue in a cosy atmosphere. You can concentrate fully on your work and, when the tasks are done, improve your work-life balance. After work, you can now sit down with a coffee on the beach, rather than spending your free time in the metro, train or sitting in traffic. After all, an office can be anywhere, so why not in the sun?
In a world where Zoom is the new conference room, The Vines, a new resort in the Algarve can certainly become the next office for a long-term stay. Quinta dos Vales, the Algarve’s leading winery, has recognised this and designed its new resort with long-term stays in mind. During the season it offers accommodation for tourists, but in the 5 month winter season it presents itself as a pleasant alternative for long-term stays for as little as 2.000 € for the full winter season. A year-round heated pool is just one of the amenities the resort has to offer. Internet connection is ensured through a fibre-optic connection and the sports options are near limitless, with plenty of on-site facilities of tennis, paddle tennis, mini-golf, as well as an incredible assortment of nearby golf and tennis clubs nearby. The offer of local restaurants has something for all tastes, and from 2022 there will even be a spacious restaurant located on-site.
The Algarve is one of the most tourism-dependent regions in the world and should make every effort to cope with the slump in holidaymaker numbers associated with the Corona virus. The future of work will never be the same and this puts the Algarve in a prime position to meet the changing needs of a global workforce.
Targeting digital nomads should become part of the Algarve’s marketing strategy and turn the crisis into an opportunity.
Karl Heinz Stock, owner of Quinta dos Vales and developer of the resort says “I had many friends during my time in Portugal who worked as lawyers or management consultants in Northern Europe, but diverted their phones to their homes in Portugal. They only visited their actual offices once or twice a month, and clients hardly noticed this. I myself did the opposite for many years and came home from Moscow almost every weekend, spending 24 hours on travel for the ability to “relax for 36 hours” with the family. Today, with an interconnected world, I would probably do this the other way round, work from home and only travel to the office occasionally.”
There is a lot to be said for this, not just lower cost of living or the great food and 300 days of sunshine in the Algarve. Any positive change of environment has health benefits, which can ultimately lead to improved productivity as well as a better work-life balance.