I was speaking with a writer from the Globe & Mail today about the future of office. We were half talking about a new AAA strata office building — called Capital Point — that we (Slate) are in the midst of launching in the Metrotown neighborhood of Burnaby, BC. And we were half talking about whether or not we’re all going to return to offices.
This is one of the great debates of the pandemic but, as I mentioned in my 2021 predictions post, I think it’s overblown. The longer I work from home and spend my entire day on video calls (only to start actual work in the evening), the more I become convinced that this is a suboptimal arrangement for productivity, collaboration, personal motivation, employee morale, and talent retention (among many other things).
We have complete conviction around great offices in the right locations. That’s why Amazon and whoever else continue to build. They’re rightly looking past this period of dislocation (12-24 months of suck). Again, this is not to say that there won’t be some changes and that certain pre-existing trends haven’t been accelerated, because they have been. But I believe that humans will continue to cluster for work.
In fact, it’s hard to disentangle cities and offices. Cities are labor markets. It’s where agglomeration economies take hold and where people come to improve their socioeconomic standing in the world (as well as meet people and have fun). To say that we no longer need to come together in person for work is to say, in a way, that we no longer need cities. We can all decentralize.
That is not a bet that I am prepared to make.
For more information about Capital Point and to register for the project, click here.