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As work behaviors shift, so do shopping habits — particularly those of remote and hybrid workers. In the past several months, the boundaries of work and home life have merged to a blur as family time, hobbies and video calls overlap. One offshoot are spontaneous day trips, with workers using their newfound autonomy to hit the road during work hours.

For brick-and-mortar retailers, emerging work-from-anywhere habits spell new opportunities to draw shoppers into stores.

Work and home life merge as one

On a typical day, remote workers may take a client call, break to pick up a prescription at the corner store, come home to complete a work project, then take the kids to the park while they call into a team meeting. With more flexibility in when and where they work, remote workers are taking to spontaneous day drives.

Altogether, consumers are driving more now than before the pandemic. They're also driving longer and farther, taking 14% more trips to locations at least 75 miles away and clocking 25% more miles in trips 75 minutes or longer[1].

Staycations and second homes set the stage for blended work and leisure routines

With the ability to work from anywhere comes the freedom to move your office to a cozy Airbnb, a new city or even a new country for extended periods. Earlier this year, Airbnb reported a 71% increase in bookings for 28-night minimum stays[2].

In a survey about global travel trends, American Express reports that 78% of respondents say they want to travel to alleviate pandemic stresses and 54% say the freedom to live and work while traveling is more compelling now than before the pandemic[3]. According to the report, "Flexible work policies combined with unique incentives from hotels, like beach workstations and discounts on extended stays, have influenced the rise of the digital nomad — someone who lives and works while traveling the globe."

The report also cites rising interest in lesser-known destinations and "philantourism," referring to travelers' desire to support a destination through tourism. On that note, 77% of respondents say they want to be more conscious about supporting local businesses while traveling.

Burnout ignites push for self-care

American workers are among the most stressed in the world. A Gallup survey found 57% of U.S. workers feel stressed on a daily basis — that's 62% of women and 52% of men[4]. Employers are taking note: In a survey of HR and benefits leaders, Lyra Health found 73% are increasing their spending on behavioral health benefits[5]. Employer-sponsored wellness breaks are also growing more common, including midday breaks, days off for mental health and shortened work hours[6]. Put simply, burned out workers and savvy employers are making space in their daily routines for self-care activities.

"Phygital" is now the norm

Forced to keep their physical distance for months at a time, consumers shifted much of their lives online, deepening their dependence on digital tools. Today, consumer lifestyles straddle the physical and digital worlds in what Euromonitor calls a "phygital reality" — a hybrid where consumers seamlessly live, work, shop and play both in person and online[7]. For retailers, blending digital and in-person experiences is imperative to bring shoppers back to physical spaces.

Drawing on-the-go consumers into your store

Looking to turn drive-bys into buyers? Be visible in decision-making moments. "On-the-go consumers in their cars represent a critical — and largely untapped — context for advertising, where targeted messages influence buyer behavior at the moment they are most ready to act," reports Forrester[8].

According to the research firm, leading brands report triple the rate of investment in digital out-of-home advertising, reaping an average of 9.1% growth in sales volume and 8.3% increase in the size of sales[9]. Waze data bears this out, pointing to a 18% increase in navigation to retail locations once those locations appear on the Waze map[10].

"As our 160 million monthly active users hit the road, we see them engaging with Waze ads and choosing to navigate to those locations," says Waze's Head of Retail Industry, Liz Franz. "We offer a unique opportunity to reach nearby shoppers in a contextually relevant way and deliver them to our advertisers' doorsteps."

Every day this week — and the next one, and the one after that — remote workers will break from work and get behind the wheel throughout the day. Savvy retailers will take the opportunity to show up in the car and steer those consumers to their locations, at the moment they're most ready to act.