Hit Habit Forecast is a regular column of the Hit Habit Makers, a group of young planners at Hakuhodo HQ that gamely stood up to say they were going to create hit habits—not hit products—as consumption shifts from purchasing things to purchasing experiences.
Analyzing social media accounts and purchasing data of highly sophisticated users and conducting analysis on popular articles, etc. in a variety of media that have their fingers on the pulse of social trends: this is the bold, new challenge of forecasting hit habits that are about to break.
Hello. I’m Koji Suzuki of the Hit Habit Makers.
In Tokyo, where I live, heat stroke alerts are being issued daily. Plus, this year with COVID-19, we can’t just blithely go out, even in this heat. This only made me want to go to the sea more than ever before.
Come to think of it, I have some colleagues at work who live near the sea. I used to say, “That’s great for the weekend, but isn’t commuting to work during the week a drag?” [Laughs] I never imagined I’d be this envious… Moreover, as working from home continues, I myself only go in to the office about once a week. I live in the city center because I knew the company would never move to me, but now it’s like the tables have turned and they chuckle at me: “What’s the point of living near the company when you only go in to the office once a week?”
In this edition, I’d like explore what I call “Shoku-jū Ryōtoku” (gaining both job and residence), the new lifestyle habit of fundamentally changing where you live.
Firstly, if you search for the Japanese term “move to a regional area” in Google Trends, you will see that the number of searches has clearly increased since May. While there may be various interpretations of what a “regional area” is, we can nonetheless see that people are considering moving from urban areas to the outlying suburbs of cities.
One of my colleagues has a house in Tokyo and another in an outlying area (near the sea). He used to stay at his house in Tokyo during the week and at his house by the sea at the weekend, but since the ban on working from home was lifted, he stays in his house in the outskirts of the city on weekdays, too (of course, coming in to Tokyo for meetings, etc.). Seeing this, other colleagues who like the sea started inspecting homes to buy by the water or are otherwise getting set to move deeper and deeper into the commuter belt. Incidentally, my friend who lives near the sea also heard that inquiries about nearby properties are surging recently from people living in Tokyo.
Until recently, people have believed that living close to their workplace is most efficient, as characterized by the Japanese phrase “shoku-ju kinsetsu” (live close to your work). But with COVID-19, people’s thinking is changing and more and more are looking to “gain both job and residence.” By living in nice suburbs on the outskirts of the cities they work in so they are close enough to be able to go in to the office if they chose to, they can have both their ideal job and ideal life, without compromising on quality of life.
So why is Shoku-jū Ryōtoku in the spotlight at the moment?
One reason, it goes without saying, is the spread of working from home. As teleworking began to spread, like me, more people are only going in to the office occasionally. There are likely more people now who would move to homes further away from their places of work if this way of working continues after COVID-19 (and various companies have already declared that they will incorporate teleworking in the mid- to long-term).
Another reason is that even without COVID-19, the benefits that can only be enjoyed in cities are already starting to diminish. With the spread of online shopping, the number of items only available in shops in cities has decreased. In the past, trends were born and spread from major cities, but today, they start on social media and the like. The rapidly declining differences between cities and other areas appear to be having a significant impact on “remote living.”
In fact, Shoku-jū Ryōtoku looks even more appealing because it realizes the best of both worlds: living away from the city, but close enough so that commuting once a week is not too onerous, in a leafy area in a bigger home for the same money (having a home office, etc. makes remote working more comfortable).
For those that have barriers to suddenly moving out of the city, I would recommend as a trial the mid-term stay plans that some resort hotels have recently begun offering. One resort facility is apparently growing in popularity for providing plans that offer environments where people can concentrate on their work as well as “resort time” where they can unwind once freed from the demands of their jobs. In this way, opportunities to temporarily “gain both job and residence” are increasing.
While thoughts about how we work and live are changing dramatically as a result of the coronavirus, I believe that the uptake of Shoku-jū Ryōtoku is likely to increase, as people are not quite ready to give up the allure of the city, but want to take advantage of the appeal of outlying suburbs. Moreover, there is potential for various business opportunities to materialize from this.
Examples of Shoku-jū Ryōtoku business opportunities
■ Housing developers equipping homes in outlying suburbs with offices for remote work. The marketing of single-family homes with enhanced Wi-Fi environments as “office-homes”
■ Western-style boardinghouse owners in summer resort areas renting out large homes in the summer as “remote pensions” where people can work remotely
■ Travel agencies, which until now have sold holidays of at most one week, marketing “trip and remote working” plans lasting a month or two
To name just a few.
Having had fewer opportunities to surround myself in nature and starting to feel cramped after being cooped up in my small home for six months or so, I, too, want to consider ways I might be able to incorporate Shoku-jū Ryōtoku in my life. I’d like to work while looking at the ocean next summer!