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What urban flight means for the future of work

White-collar work is a pillar of the big city, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, that pillar might be crumbling. We may not be facing a mass exodus, but many urbanites have already packed their bags and headed to greener, less crowded pastures. And if they haven’t moved already, those that remain may not be far behind.

There was more than a 50% increase in people looking to leave New York City in October compared to the previous year. What’s more, the amount of vacant office space in Manhattan is at its highest rate since 2009, with commercial property sales in the city dropping by nearly 50% this fall, and occupancy rates in metro area apartments are expected to continue to decline in 2021.

Layer that with remote work entering the mainstream, and it’s no surprise that many business leaders are facing the conundrum of managing distributed workforces for the first time. Before the pandemic, only 1 in 5 workers who could do their jobs from home actually did. Now, over 70% of those employees are teleworking either all or most of the time, and nearly 40% say it’s now easier to balance work with family responsibilities. And while the seemingly overnight transition to remote work was overwhelming at first, the majority of workers have settled in, with 80% saying they’re able to meet deadlines on time, 77% saying they have an adequate workspace, and 68% able to complete their work without interruptions.

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