There is talk that working from home has become so ingrained and old working arrangements so untenable in this new, socially distanced world that it will force city-centre offices to repurpose. When I hear such a claim that office blocks will have to convert to residential or be left unlet and economically idle, I imagine this absurd exchange: “Where are you now working?” – “From home, Flat 1, 1 City Road” – “Interesting, but isn’t that exactly where your old office was?”
No doubt some will argue that the new home-working rule will free us to move to rural idylls, resulting in deserted urban centres and not merely distressing the office market but adding further pain to urban retail and leisure space. True, there has long been a tradition for us to move further out as we head towards retirement. No less true is an increasing demand by the growing metropolitan class, if you will, to be amongst it all. Now, whilst growing student numbers have played a role in refilling city and large town centres, young working professionals have been the main movers or rather arrivals. Because, to repeat, they demand not to be socially distant from it all.