Just a couple of months ago, such a mass migration from the tech world’s cushy, open-concept, free-snack-having offices would have seemed crazy. What’s not to love about hanging out at work when work has fro-yo and ping pong? All of a sudden, those ping pong paddles just look like virus magnets.
It’s hard to overstate the impact such a migration would have on society. Commercial real estate prices could crater in places like New York and the Bay Area. White-collar workers who had been driving rent prices up can suddenly ditch their $3,000 a month Manhattan studio and go work… just about anywhere with decent wifi. (Brb, googling “how to buy a beach house in Thailand…”)
There are plenty of downsides as well, not least of which would be the loss of office friendships and creative partnerships that thrive when we’re all together.
THRIVING VS. BARELY SURVIVING, OR HOW THE PANDEMIC CREATED A CORPORATE CASTE SYSTEM
When the pandemic hit the United States two months ago, the government sorted businesses into two groups: The essentials and the nonessentials. This week, we saw how much those labels are worth.
Meanwhile the essential class — your Walmarts, your Home Depots — stayed open and reaped the benefits of panic buying, hoarding, and nesting. Americans stocked up, stayed home, and finally tackled that bookshelf project they started last June. (And yes, the big-box boys had to deal with additional costs for labor and shipping, but we’ve looked at the balance sheets and we’re pretty sure they can afford it. Just saying.)
R.I.P. SALAD BAR
Many years from now, we’ll tell our grandchildren about the time before they were born when raw food was allowed to sit out, exposed to the air for hours, in big vats from which we’d spoon our lunches into a cardboard box. They were called salad bars, and they died in 2020.