The Airstream may be a symbol of America’s love of the open road and the pleasure of getting away. But in recent months, some people have been putting them to work to solve serious social problems.

With many of us trying to find new ways to make working at home palatable during a pandemic, you’ve got to love Jeremiah Owyang’s solution. 

Owyang, an independent tech analyst, needed space to call his own, and found a great alternative to sky-high Silicon Valley rentals. 

He bought a small 22-foot Airstream RV, parked it in his backyard, and souped it up for video calls. Owyang surveyed the local real estate market, and found that rentals were charging at least $2,000 monthly. Instead, he got a 20-year-loan at $370 monthly for a $50,000 Airstream “Sport” trailer.  

“I own it. I can claim it as a business deduction and re-sell it at some point in the future,” Owyang says.. 

As he said this week on Twitter: “I used to fly to conferences, now, I just walk to the backyard.”

He describes the “Tiny Airstream Studio” as “29 steps from the house,” and “a quiet place to work.” It’s also a production studio for the pandemic age, making lemonade from lemons for someone who needed to alter the way he works.

“Because I make money from speaking at conferences, I needed to show people I have the setup,” he says. “Yes, I have a studio in my backyard; how can I help you?”

As he posted on Medium, “Now, like most, my primary stage is from my own home, umm err backyard. To ensure my message is best communicated to the market, having decent audio and visual setup is critical during this socially isolating pandemic.”

So in his backyard, he flips on the ring lights, turns on his Sony A6400 camera, attaches his Movo lavalier microphone to his shirt lapel, cranks open a video conference program, and he’s ready to interview executives and give speeches.

Beyond the camera, lav mic, Logitech webcam and Samsung 30-inch monitor, “the most important” tech tool in the trailer is his 1-gigabyte Comcast internet signal.

Luckily, most people responded with envy, not disdain. 

Recently, he has picked up gigs doing a keynote speech from the Airstream, about innovation culture for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise

Meanwhile, don’t look for Owyang to be cruising this summer on the open road. It’s a permanent fixture in the backyard.

“We don’t take it out, it’s a dedicated office,” he says. 

Putting Airstreams to novel uses isn’t unique. Zappos founder Tony Hsieh bought a bunch of them for workers, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a village of them in the desert. 

When all is said and done, “this is the future,” Owyang says. “People are going to need dedicated, quiet places to work,” and will need to seek out alternatives. 

That could include moving from a high-density, high rent location like San Francisco to lower cost out of state, and switching from a one bedroom apartment to a two or three bedroom, or getting a separate unit for a backyard like a Tuffshed or Airstream. 

For himself, “I’m commuting to work. It just happens to be 29 steps away from my house.”

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