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Office Space: So Last Year?

Did coronavirus bring certain death to the traditional concept of the office, or is it only a matter of time until we return to business as usual?
June 10, 2020, 12pm PDT | Lee Flannery | @leecflannery
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Nixey says that offices have been on their way out for a while now. "A combination of rising rents, the digital revolution and increased demands for flexible working meant its population was slowly emigrating to different milieux. More than half of the Ameri­can workforce already worked remotely, at least some of the time," Nixey reflects. Did coronavirus forever change organizational culture, giving the boot to the office workspace as we knew it?

When the valuation of office sublet company WeWork fell from $47 billion to about $12 billion, it became unclear if bougie snacks, natural light, and modern furniture were enough to keep the workforce at their desks. In addition to the physical toll of sitting at a desk for 8 waking hours per day, Nixey wonders if people are taking note of the more philosophical benefits of spending more time away from the office touted by thinkers like Thoreau and Wordsworth. Nonetheless, humans are social creatures and need social encounters to maintain a sense of connection and personhood. Perhaps this connection is one of the benefits of the traditional office, concedes Nixey. 

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Published on Monday, June 8, 2020 in The Economist
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