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Opinion
Noah Smith

The Last Thing San Francisco Needs Is More Home Offices

As more workers split time between home and office, demand for more space and shorter commutes will grow, exacerbating shortages of urban housing in major business centers.

The clamor for more work space at home will only push prices higher.

The clamor for more work space at home will only push prices higher.

Source: Bloomberg

For a decade, Americans have endured rising rents in the cities where the best jobs are. Some hoped that the post-pandemic era would reverse this trend, as people moved out to the suburbs and worked from home. But in fact, remote work is likely to exacerbate the rent problem rather than relieve it, because of demand for larger houses.

The pandemic has been an economic disaster, but it offered a glimmer of hope for urban residents squeezed by sky-high rents. If only some of those high-value workers could be persuaded to move out of the city center, the thinking went, places like San Francisco would become affordable for the masses again. And the pandemic trend toward work-from-home seemed to be a way this could happen. American workers have gotten used to the lifestyle of remote work, and it also carries many productivity benefits.