As COVID-19 vaccinations are ramped up across the country, offices are starting to open and welcome employees back to business centers. As for the army of office workers, who are accustomed to working from home and appreciate their new flexibility – how will they be met?
To understand what a revised city will look like, we’ve put together a virtual dashboard to look at how urban office centers can adapt and change. We asked: If we work from home and stay here, what will the city centers be dominated by office space in the next 5 years? How do we keep the dowels from being empty? What happens to the suburbs, and beyond that, the suburbs?
Answers have been edited for clarity and length.
Edward Glaeser is professor of economics at Harvard University and the author of The survival of the city, from Penguin Press.
City centers will become more residential, cheaper, younger and more rudimentary. While some people work from home here to stay, most of the employees will continue to come to the office, most of the time. Face-to-face contact can drive innovation, enable learning on the spot, and prevent work from becoming purely transactional. Demand for commercial space will decrease, leading to lower commercial rental rates and some conversion to residential use.
Offices once used by the bank could be leased at lower prices for startups that put more value on round-the-clock collaboration. The office isn’t dead, but it’s definitely portable. Many metropolitan areas face a significant risk of losing businesses to cheaper and warmer localities. This would be a bad time for local governments to treat their local employers as a tax-exempt fixed resource. The most important guarantee of long-term economic success is making sure the city is a great place to live and work.
For the suburbs …
The fear of infectious disease motivated the first suburbs in the 19th century, and it can still influence today. The general trend for larger suburban homes over the past 40 years will continue and even increase rapidly. Some vacant nests will cling to the suburbs rather than re-urbanization. Some parents with school-age children will speed up their move to suburbs. However, I see this as a small change in the suburbs, not a big watershed.
Brooks Rainwater is a senior executive of the City Solutions Center
in the National League of Cities.
While the wholesale adoption of work from home policies by companies will not be uniformly implemented, even the movement of 10% of the workforce from downtown business districts to Remote offices will also have a huge impact on city centers and neighborhoods throughout urban areas.
The broader geographic dispersion of talent beyond a large group of megacities, superstars could lead to a more equitable distribution of wealth across the country as well as alleviate some of the problems of affordable affordable housing. that our biggest cities have to deal with. Throughout 2020, we have seen an exodus from cities like San Francisco and New York to the Solar Belt and smaller metro areas, with exceptionally strong growth. in places like Austin and Miami.
And in the suburbs and suburbs?
With big cities like New York and Washington, only 10% or 20% of office workers returned to the office by the end of last year – and most observers don’t expect the majority of these people. [who] back to office work until this summer — a lasting impact on the CBD will be felt. If, as many people predict, a large number of large companies and organizations move towards a combined remote and office environment, this could lead to continued growth in the suburbs.
Regionalism will continue to grow in importance as cities, suburbs and suburbs become more fully aware that they are closely linked in good times and bad times. Trends in suburban areas toward the development of more mixed use, more walkability and increased transport connectivity were formed long before the pandemic and these trends will only develop and push fast after the pandemic.
MaryAnne Gilmartin is the founder and CEO of MAG Partners LP, a New York-based real estate development firm.
Office workers are clamoring to feel the energy and collaboration they’ve missed out on over the past year, but aren’t giving up on some of the new flexibility found in their workday. I think this dynamics will be very good for office buildings and dense commercial areas by forcing them to become more diverse – something that happened before COVID-19. A more flexible workweek will help relieve peak stress and provide a great opportunity to adjust streets, parking lots and office structures for more life. Existing counties should cede more public space to outdoor dining areas, urban parks, and pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. For the office buildings themselves, corridors should eliminate their boundaries and integrate into food and beverage operations, keeping the space active from morning to night.
Does that affect suburbs and further suburbs?
If we consider this an ecosystem, it would not be surprising that the suburbs and suburbs adapt parallel to the city centers. The biggest change may be to multiple satellite offices and co-working locations. These won’t replace corporate headquarters, but leading companies will look for them as supplements, so an urban parent can skip commuting a day or two a week while at work. Still working professionally and can be at home to watch baseball practice or solo choir. The Gentiles benefit to a certain extent [among] those working in industries really don’t need regular, direct interaction, but I think that when safety and security return – and, after vaccines, it will – most industries foster hubs. The municipality will want and need to stay close and preserve the magic that comes from interacting with others. For most of us, the suburbs will remain an attractive and revered sanctuary, a getaway, not a full-time home.
Mitchell Moss is the director of the Rudin Transportation Center at New York University, where he is also a Henry Hart Rice professor of urban planning and policy.
Remote work has surged since the pandemic, leading many to believe offices are dead. Nothing could be better than the truth. The Office of the Future will emphasize activities that require human interaction: informal meetings and contexts help foster an easy flow of ideas and responses. But organizations must adapt to the rise of telework by switching to a three- or four-day office week, with an office environment that promotes human exposure but without 50 square foot workstation and by investing in new systems to ensure health, such as advanced ventilation, access to a variety of outdoor environments and suitable office space suitable for informal, spontaneous meetings.
Some major cities will thrive as office centers for companies serving national and global markets, but functions normally dependent on computers will continue to be located in spending locations. low fees. The “Back office” functions have been moved out of the city for more than 50 years, since Citibank established credit card processing centers in South Dakota while other financial services firms moved the bar operations. to pay bills abroad. However, high-level activities that rely on trust, informal contact, and sensitive information flow will still be conducted during breakfast, lunch and dinner, and in the office towers in New York. and London, not in midsize cities like Charlotte, Austin, Boston or Salt Lake City, simply lack the deep legal, financial, and media expertise to compete in the global economy. bridge. Technical expertise can be concentrated in Seattle or San Diego. But the great cities of the 21st century need to bring people together, and that requires superior international air connectivity and internet connectivity.
And outside the city center?
We are seeing a rise in “supercomputers” as workers choose where to live – based on their preferences about education, entertainment or climate, rather than being close to the workplace. The second home community is increasingly becoming the first home in the 21st century.
Mark Dotzour is a real estate economist who spent 18 years working as chief economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University at College Station, Texas.
My guess is that in the post-COVID era there will be a lot of people still working in office buildings in the city center. Chances are a hybrid work environment could develop, where people work in the office three days a week and work from home on other days. In this case, I don’t see a significant reduction in demand for office space. Employees will still need the space they occupied earlier. Reduced pedestrian traffic will be a challenge for retailers and restaurants in the city center. The “urban vibe” has been a real joy for many years now. It was pleasant, enjoyable, stimulating, and safe. When not, working professionals and businesses large and small can quickly move away. The urban vibe is predicted based on successful public safety efforts. No one wants to live or work in an environment they fear.
How can suburbs and suburbs be watched when the pandemic disappears from memory?
We are in the early stages of a major social experiment to explore what these efforts could be. How can suburbs and suburbs be watched when the pandemic disappears from memory? The urgency to move health concerns to the suburbs will be reduced, but I see two possible reasons for moving further away from the urban center. If working from home allows companies to attract the highest talent, many companies can adopt a similar policy. If violence and crime are allowed to proliferate in urban centers, workers and businesses will leave. If everyone is allowed to work from home, land development opportunities can emerge in smaller communities within a 60-minute drive from the central business district.
Ann Duncan is executive vice president and head of residency services at real estate services firm Savills, based in Tampa, Fla.
Now, more than ever, we realize that excitement in both work and in personal life is essential to happiness. Based on this balance, offices and cities will continue to be important, but the landscape will change. For younger people, face-to-face interaction is crucial for both learning and career advancement, and younger workers are less likely to have the ideal home work configuration. We believe the purpose of the office must be adaptive to focus on experience, productivity, collaboration, and culture as a priority for employee acquisition and retention.
And outside big cities?
The pandemic has accelerated migration to secondary cities (eg, Austin, Phoenix, Nashville, Tampa and Denver), based on many factors such as business costs, taxes and quality of life. Cities that combine work (opportunity density), personal (activity, cultural) and quality of lifestyle (cost of living, time to work, nature) efficiency will continue to attract talent, continuing to close the gap between the largest metropolitan areas, such as New York and San Francisco, and secondary markets. Labor strategy and analysis has never been more important.