Who needs cities when so many work from home?

What happened, says Harvard University economist Edward Glaeser, is that although information technology made it easier for manufacturers to move away from cities, it increased the benefits of proximity when it came to developing innovations in knowledge-intensive industries. So even though they were initially hurt by manufacturers’ exit, places that had many educated people eventually thrived.

But communications technology has kept advancing and workers have become more adept at using it, especially amid the Covid-19 crisis and the work-from-home experiment it has created. Having learned that they can work effectively without having everybody in the office, companies won’t unlearn it…

“I think we’ll see more clusters of creativity in remote offices centered around consumer cities—places where people want to live, like Boulder or Vail,” he says. Having workers telecommute from home a couple of days a week—a measure many employers will likely adopt to lengthen social distancing until a vaccine becomes available—could be another lasting change.