Many countries are struggling to overcome gaps of all shapes and sizes between places. North versus south, east versus west, and urban versus rural divides are all too common. This has produced unequal opportunities and a deep-seated geography of discontent in places that lag behind.
Two years after the onset of COVID-19, the future of work remains a topic of lively, even heated, debate. Early in the pandemic, some were quick to announce the demise of the centre-city office. The apparent success of remote work, they said, would lead to a revival of the suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas, with “work hubs” popping up as needed.
Mass adoption of remote working has reduced the value of living close to city centers along with demand for office space. A sharp adjustment in property prices is likely, presenting cities with significant fiscal risks. In response, mayors will need to rethink the role of city centers and actively work to shore up revenues.
The rise of remote working during the COVID-19 crisis significantly reduced activity in cities’ business districts, renewing policy makers’ interest in turning underused office buildings into much needed residential housing in cities. This creates a unique window of opportunity to shape more sustainable and inclusive urban development.
To further help in that process, we’re launching a new OECD Regional Recovery Platform that will help national and subnational governments track the recovery using internationally comparable subnational data, and support the development of policies to build back better and ultimately bring regions together.
The ability to telework provided an important source of resilience for people, firms and places during the pandemic. In OECD countries, teleworking grew from around 16% of employees before the crisis to around 37% during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020.