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Post-Covid offices could be more dynamic than ever.

Coronavirus will not kill the office, Dror Poleg writes for The Upshot.

The ability to work remotely will not drive most people away from cities and offices, but it will enable many to live and work in new ways and places — while causing its fair share of disruption, he argues.

Even before the pandemic, there were signs of trouble with the office market in the handful of cities where the so-called creative class had been flocking. In 2018, net migration to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco was negative, while the U.S. economy grew at a healthy 2.9 percent. Creative magnets like London and Paris were experiencing similar declines.

The explanation for the declines — mostly high housing costs because of limits on new construction — obscures other forces that were destabilizing the traditional office market. In the middle of the 2010s, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and others started splitting their headquarters into multiple locations.

For the fastest-growing companies, being able to tap into talent anywhere became more important than having all their teams in one place. Smaller cities were good enough.

There were more specific signs that the office market was headed for a crisis. While employers were fighting over talent, many employees found traditional offices lacking. In 2019, Leesman, a firm that measures employee experiences, analyzed how the workplace affects employee productivity, pride and enjoyment. Leesman found that nearly 40 percent of employees thought their workplace did not enable them to work productively.

Then the pandemic forced many employees to reassess their preferences. Multiple surveys have found that many are happy to continue to work remotely and would move, if given the chance.

Still, this data tells us little about the post-Covid world. Those who thrived initially might burn out if they stayed home for a more extended period. Those who struggled might do much better once they’ve mastered new tools. And the technologies that allow us to work, learn and socialize remotely will only get better.

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