Now that we might start to believe that the Covid-19 pandemic is mostly behind us, we certainly want to think that everything is back to normal; whatever normal was three years ago. But it's not, and we aren't.
What generally eludes us is the second-order consequences of any transformational event. Would self-driving cars had been mainstream by now, most parking spaces would have been obsolete (whether you rent your car Uber-like while you are working, or it will come back to pick you up after work by itself). This would have translated down the road (pun intended) into a massive real-estate boon as vast amounts of free space would have been liberated in the most expensive cities' downtowns.
But if self-driving cars are now legal and up and driving in only a few city centers, another transformation has happened these last three years. Remote work. And it sticks.
And while many high-profile companies such as Tesla or Apple have pushed for having everyone physically back at work all the time, most other businesses have integrated much more flexible practices.
Such work-life rebalance painfully birthed from tears of peak Covid-19 is the one that might translate into this "massive real-estate boon as vast amounts of free space would have been liberated in the most expensive cities' downtowns." Just not the one previously expected. The second-order consequences at play? Converting expensive downtown offices and business districts back to residential ones. And companies such as Metro Loft in New York took notice and have already signed over $1B in deals. Other cities like Paris are giving a try at converting modest parts of the "La Défense" business district into social housing.
You'd think that the model of the tall glass skyscraper embodying commercial supremacy born in the seventies certainly doesn't compute anymore with our society. But this transformation is not guaranteed.
I'm certainly puzzled (and mildly amused, too) when some professional contacts and peers seemed to think that after fifteen years of consulting, we finally "made it" as we now own an office. 😅