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Why office skyscrapers may never recover from the pandemic, according to a Stanford professor a?? and what that means for the future of work

Why office skyscrapers may never recover from the pandemic, according to a Stanford professor a?? and what that means for the future of work

A couple sits at a vista point with the San Francisco skyline in the background Friday, March 27, 2020, in Sausalito, Calif.
Eric Risberg/AP




As the coronavirus pandemic has closed offices, tall buildings have been left virtually abandoned for months on end.




They might stay that way, according to Stanford economics professor Nick Bloom, who predicts that skyscrapers won't be appealing for workers, even after people start returning to offices.




On a panel on the future of work at Business Insider's Global Trends Festival, Bloom, WeWork exec Nikolay Kolev, and AVIV Group CEO Ralf Baumann discussed how office spaces will change as cities become less appealing for post-pandemic employees.




Companies will also have to deal with changing norms in collaboration and brainstorming as hybrid work spaces become more prevalent.




Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


As pandemic-related work-from-home measures wrap up their seventh month in the US, most previously bustling downtowns remain emptied. With a coronavirus vaccine still under development, companies are adjusting for the long haul: Microsoft is workshopping a hybrid model that schedules how many employees can come to the office on a given day, while Dropbox is permanently embracing remote work by getting rid of traditional offices altogether. Even once it is safe for people to start going back to offices en masse, old norms may be less popular. "COVID is the skyscraper killer," said professor of economics at Stanford, Nick Bloom, during a panel on the future of work at Business Insider's Global Trends Festival.Bloom, along with CEO of AVIV Group Ralf Baumann, and WeWork managing director Nikolay Kolev, discussed how a city's role as a work hub could change drastically as companies adopt new, less dense workplaces. Bloom pointed to the Salesforce Tower, the tallest building in downtown San Francisco. The 61-floor skyscraper, impossible to miss in San Francisco's downtown corridor, may be unappealing to the post-pandemic office employee who doesn't want to sit in mass transit and use a small elevator to reach their office.
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