Work remote, get paid less? The battle dividing offices will define the future of work

Julia HobsbawmTue 12 Apr 2022 10.00 BST (The Guardian)

Mobility and freedom are the new prizes for the professional working class. But some companies fail to grasp the scale and sweep of change

The world of work was already quite sick before the coronavirus took hold, but the pandemic put rocket boosters on cultural change.

We can see the impact of this in every metric around work: during the Great Resignation of 2021, millions of American workers resigned en masse. Workers worldwide have declared that they would quit their jobs if not provided with flexibility.

The reduction in corporate property rents last year as high as 10%, with huge changes in the use of office space and co-working space. And the city has a new competitor: the suburb. The flight to suburbia during the pandemic has accounted for a rise in the property market for residences outside city centers. For downtown districts to attract and retain people as places to live and work, city centers will need to be redesigned completely.

These developments come as no surprise: the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that up to a quarter of workers in advanced economies will work permanently on a hybrid basis, ie partly from home, several days a week. Discussions about RTO (returning to the office) are increasingly fraught and in flux. There is no uniform model or agreement.

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