The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting public health measures necessitated many workplaces to permit workers to work from home. The question is now asked can the temporary transition to enable workers to work from home become more permanent and how will this shape the spatial distribution of employment opportunities and, in turn, workforces. This paper focuses on the potential for ICT-supported working from home arrangements to reshape employment opportunities in rural settings. With limited local employment opportunities being a major driver of rural out-migration, enabling rural residents to access a broader range of employment through ICT may result in a longer term disruption to rural out-migration patterns. Despite the potential of ICT to support remote working, uptake in rural areas has been relatively low. This paper argues that the recent increase in use of ITC-supported working from home arrangements promoted by COVID-19 public health measures may erode of two of the major barriers to participation in remote working—these being negative perceptions by the employer and employer about working from home and limited knowledge within workplaces about how to manage a partly or fully remote workforce. For rural populations it is plausible that the rapid transition to ICT-supported working from home arrangements will open up more diverse employment opportunities. However, it remains that for some rural areas and populations the urban-rural digital divide persists as a barrier to participation in ICT-supported remote working.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited