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Work Habits Are Changing: Cities Need to Keep Up

What does work sprawl mean for urban planning?
After more than a century on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor sold its flagship building in the center of the city to office-space-sharing company WeWork last year.
After more than a century on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor sold its flagship building in the center of the city to office-space-sharing company WeWork last year.Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Changes in the world of work are well-documented. Smart technologies, AI, cloud computing, wireless mobility—you name it—all have a profound impact on how work is being performed. Recent research shows that remote work has been on a steady rise. Should cities care?

After all, companies are the front-line of changing work practice: managers, real-estate specialists, information technology departments and HR personnel; they balance various types of work contracts—project-based gig work, flexible and remote work—and they manage related cultural changes. Among the issues: How can teams function without regular social interactions? How can privacy, confidentiality, and record-keeping be reconciled with electronic communications and home-offices? These are business considerations, not urban ones.