70% more employees are teleworking since the pandemic began which is resulting in large empty office spaces. As corporate leases expire or are exited what should we do with the empty space? Here’s three thoughts on ways we can turn this institutional shift into a cultural boom
Upgraded space for schools
Many of today’s school building are either aging or have been renovated so many times that you can’t tell what’s new or old. This is especially true for many schools in urban settings where the land is at a premium. Office building often already have huddle spaces and conferences rooms that would allow for more intimate small group instruction. They also have a significant networking infrastructure to allow for remote learning. The cubicle farms of yesterday are very easily converted to individual student desks with privacy to work on their activities and still open enough to have supervision.
The new farm and farmers market
Farmers markets are often a seasonal thing because of weather but if you wandered around a open space that had stalls for local vendors and farmers but were protected from the elements there is no longer a weather restriction. Having a place to sell goods only works though if you have items to sell and high rise office buildings have more than adequate size and structure to support more urban farming techniques. Utilize the existing large power supplies or add more alternative energy and lighting can be added along with irrigation. Indoor farming isn’t new but could have a new rake in office buildings.
Affordable housing for all
This one is really up to the same developers that chose to build for businesses because that’s where the revenue was. Now they have empty buildings that could be converted without too much work into multi family housing. This wouldn’t work for every space but office centric spaces could easily be converted to dormitory style living. The addition of more bathing space is one of the few additions really needed.
Combine them all
If you took all of these concepts with a single high rise office building you now ha e places to work (farms or good creation), places to learn and places to live all just riding an elevator or taking the stairs. Clearly a shangri-la but we are at an inflection point that we can reinvent the world we live in so why not…