Lion of the Blogosphere

Work-from-home means the end of cities?

The ability to work from home as easily as we work from the office is a pretty new phenomenon. The technology that makes it so easy just wasn’t there in the 1990s, and only somewhat there in the naughts.

The development of work-from-home technology didn’t lead to an immediate exodus from the office. Not at all. No major company wanted to be the first. People always had to go to the office to work, and big companies don’t like radical change.

But according to an article in today’s NY Times, not only are companies finding that workers are just as productive at home, in many cases companies have found that the workers are MORE productive at home!

So now that companies have been forced to go WFH and they’ve discovered that it works just as well as working from the office, maybe even BETTER, plus they can SAVE MONEY by not having to pay for expensive office space in big cities, why not make it permanent?

When the factories left Detroit, Detroit went into a death spiral. Office buildings are the factories of major cities today, and if those factories move from the office building into peoples homes, then why won’t cities like New York or San Francisco also go into death spirals?

On top of that, there are two other important trends that spell doom for cities;

(1) There’s the virus itself. There’s the perception that dense cities aren’t safe. (And certainly, crowded rush hour subways are not safe during a pandemic, so the perception isn’t false.) I have no doubt that after a few years go by, this perception will fade away, but by the time it fades away it will have already done its damage to cities.

(2) The BLM protests will lead to soft-on-crime policies that will cause crime to come roaring back. I remember the 80s when people had the perception that cities were dangerous places because of crime, that perception will return. The riots and the subsequent boarded-up windows have already given Manhattan a very dystopian feel to it.

Thus we have the perfect storm of factors that will spell doom for cities. Once things start spiraling downwards, it’s very hard to reverse course. Detroit couldn’t do anything to save itself. Neither will New York City be able to save itself.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

June 23, 2020 at 7:10 PM

88 Responses

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  1. WFH is never going to be more than a fringe thing once conditions are back to normal. As I’ve said before, bosses won’t allow it because it makes it harder for them to micromanage and browbeat their subordinates, and workers don’t like it because they fear if they’re not physically in the office every single day they won’t be considered absolutely vital to company operations.

    Peter

    ironrailsironweights

    June 23, 2020 at 7:23 PM

    • You also said that flu is more dangerous than the coronavirus, so you don’t have a good track record with predictions.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      June 23, 2020 at 7:34 PM

      • How many people who didn’t already have one foot in the coffin die from This Disease Thing?

        Peter

        ironrailsironweights

        June 23, 2020 at 7:56 PM

      • Maybe it’s the end of work as we know it.

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        June 23, 2020 at 7:59 PM

      • When the cities all go in the shitter it would be a great time to buy some iRobot stock.

        Lowe

        June 23, 2020 at 9:09 PM

      • Ya – fuck that guy

        TorontoTraveller

        June 23, 2020 at 9:39 PM

      • Lion, you were, and still are, an alarmist about corona.
        The crisis is over, and it’s been over for more than a month. New cases do not equal morbidities, and several populations that were on the so called front lines have not been seriously affected.
        I live in NYC, I know 2 doctors, one who worked on the front lines in the ER at a big hospital in the Bronx that you would know.
        He has repeatedly tested negative for even the antibodies. Same with the other doctor, and all of their peers.
        This virus is dangerous for the very elderly, the morbidly obese, and those with serious underlying conditions, and even most of them get over it.
        You will never admit you lost your marbles over this thing.

        Another Dave

        June 23, 2020 at 9:40 PM

      • You know, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and have no plans to become one, but of all the subjects people form conspiracy theories about, this COVID-19 thing is the one that finally has me able to see where they’re coming from. We’re told by the media that there’s this worldwide pandemic, our society has to be shut down, we all have to stay in our homes, we can’t do normal human things like shake hands or go to restaurants ever again, thousands of people are dying from it, millions are going to die before it’s over… and all of this is solely on the basis of what the media is telling us. I’ve never met anyone who’s had this virus. No one I know has met anyone who has had this virus. I’m a doctor (albeit a psychiatrist) and I’ve never seen a patient with this virus. I’ve had patients who’ve had reason to be tested, and not a one has ever tested positive. The hospital where I work has an entire floor dedicated to COVID-19, but I’ve never seen it and I don’t know anyone who goes there. I can see why someone might say “I’ve never seen a shred of evidence of any of this with my own two eyes. It must all be a huge hoax.”

        Like I said, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I believe there is a novel coronavirus out there going around. But I can now see why people become conspiracy theorists.

        Hermes

        June 23, 2020 at 11:56 PM

      • I know three people who had the virus, one of them died, another spent a week in the hospital (but is OK now). I know someone whose father died from the virus. So no, it’s not a conspiracy.

      • My tenant got Corona and spent 10 days in the hospital. One of my close friend’s father also got Corona and spent days in the hospital. I have also contacted friends in NYC and report worse hospitalization and deaths.

        In regards to Dave, it’s frustrating to hear not just denying but accusing Lion of being in denial. If you ask your 2 NYC doctors if they avoided catching Corona, did you ask them how people should view Corona?

        In regards to Hermes, yeah, that make sense. Like or not, it seems only the places that got hit hard, enough they can call someone they trust and get reported back eyewitness info corroborating the media reports, is where people take it seriously. Though, not always true as some do evidently some do know people and still telling Lion that he lost his marbles.

        Dreamer

        June 24, 2020 at 3:27 PM

      • Another Dave

        Lion desperately wants WFH to be the new normal. He has pushed the panic narrative because he seriously believes he is a social influencer (important people read his blog!). I don’t think he was trolling when he let the white house know- via a blog post- that he was open to a position in the administration.

        The IFR is a fraction of what was initially surmised and barely registers for healthy people under 50.

        Meanwhile lion is completely deaf dumb and blind to secondary effects of lockdown. Maybe because it impacts the people he hates most, proles.

        So he knows three people who had it and one who died. Every time I use a personal anecdote he mocks me for using unscientific anecdotal evidence. Lion believes in the law, and standards, and facts, until he doesn’t.

        toomanymice

        June 24, 2020 at 5:14 PM

      • The only reason why “only” 120,000 died and not 2.4 million is because everyone started social distancing, either voluntarily or forced to by the government.

        As far as the mortality rate being quite low for people under 50, yes. I previously wrote a post about this, so it’s not like you are telling me something I don’t know. There could still be tens of thousands of deaths among people under the age of 45. See my post: https://lionoftheblogosphere.wordpress.com/2020/05/19/covid-19-ifr-by-age-group/comment-page-1/

      • Covid-19 is no joke. 2 relatives of mine had run ins with the virus, one of them being hospitalized in Langone Medical Center ( NYU’s hospital named after one of those you know what). The other had to self quarantine with his wife who also caught the virus.

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        June 25, 2020 at 10:20 AM

  2. Crime will never be as bad as it was back then because many of the potential criminals are now “working from home” too (porn and videogames).

    IHTG

    June 23, 2020 at 7:33 PM

    • Really, the election of de Blasio and lack of a crime spike caused me to revisit my prior assumptions. Maybe we could liberalize quite a bit on crime without bringing back the old crime wave.

      Then again, don’t they have video games and porn in soft-on-crime Brazil? And yet Brazil, with something like 2/3 the US population, commits more murders than the entire civilized world combined (and then some).

      http://metrocosm.com/homicides-brazil-vs-world/

      Wency

      June 24, 2020 at 9:34 AM

  3. Detroit was also hit by closures due to imported Japanese cars. Did that not contribute to the decline?

    Frau Katze

    June 23, 2020 at 7:49 PM

  4. I have a friend who works in the group that develops and maintains a web site for a company that does a lot of it sales now through online (there business is booming during the shutdown). The web site group is in a small office outside the bay area but in California. The company headquarters are on the East coast. As the virus spread East coast management refused to let people work from home insisting they keep coming into the office, although here in California many started refusing to come to work and worked from home anyway. The the statewide shut down order in mid March forced everyone in the California office to work from home.

    The company just announced that they were terminating the lease on the office and the whole group would be working from home permanently. Management had measured no loss in productivity while they were working from home and the State/County demanded lots of changes to the office before they would allow them to reopen it. Density of desks had to be lower, there had to be barriers between desks, ect. Being an incredibly cheap company, they just decided it would be too expensive to update the office and they would probably have to rent a larger office to be able to bring everyone back. They are going to try to get out of their lease as soon as possible instead and have no office for this group.

    I have heard that the big Silicon Valley companies are telling most employees they will have to continue working from home for the foreseeable future. They may retrofit some of their office space so it meets the new desk density rules, but then they will not have near enough desks for everyone. This may allow people working for these Silicon Valley giants to move out of the bay area to some place with cheaper housing costs reducing housing prices in the bay area.

    MikeCA

    June 23, 2020 at 7:52 PM

  5. WTF = Work Telecommuting Forever should be the new term and not WFH.

    The real issue is how do we define status with this new work culture given that living and working in Manhattan is no longer necessary.

    Ok, what, who's this again?

    June 23, 2020 at 7:54 PM

    • Um, WTF is taken. Although now that I think about it, BLM before 2014 was Bureau of Land Management. Go for it with your new acronym, you crazy diamond!

      What the Funk?

      June 24, 2020 at 5:43 PM

  6. Can someone explain how workers can be as productive or more productive working from home? Maybe I’m just a lazy SOB and am seeing things from my own skewed perspective, but when I do work from home it takes me twice as long. I start surfing the internet, watching YouTube videos, getting up and getting a beverage or snack, etc. If I had a full-time work-from-home job, I’d probably get no work at all done and promptly get fired.

    Hermes

    June 23, 2020 at 8:13 PM

    • I’m sure the time you wasted in the office (Whether personal ‘take a break’ ‘surf the internet’ or job related ‘meeting over HR rules’ or ‘discuss the new retirement rules’ wasted time) is greater than your ‘watch youtube videos and getting a snack’ wasted time at home.

      In other words, no matter how inefficient you are at home, you were even worse when in the office full time!

      anon

      anon

      June 24, 2020 at 8:49 AM

      • No, I’m telling you, I have data on this. When I stay in the office to finish my work, I can be done by 5. If I leave at 2 to finish my work at home, I wind up not getting done until 9 pm.

        Hermes

        June 24, 2020 at 7:42 PM

  7. This prediction failed 20 years ago, and it will fail again — regardless of improvements in tech.

    Bosses want facetime, and workers who want promotions will spend hours in the office providing it.

    WFM will be disproportionately utilized by unambitious women, meaning that it will become the new Mommy Track.

    Tech changes, but human nature does not.

    Justice Duvall

    June 23, 2020 at 8:48 PM

    • Facetime, yes, there’s Zoom, but coming into the office regularly, no.

      Besides retail operations, there is no need to see someone else in person who isn’t a family member or a mating buddy.

      Waiting for the boomers and their predecessors to go extinct!

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      June 23, 2020 at 10:45 PM

      • Waiting for the boomers and their predecessors to go extinct!

        The youngest boomers are turning 56 y/o. You’ve got a long wait.

        Smartest Woman on the Internet

        June 24, 2020 at 10:22 AM

      • 60s born Generational Jones aren’t boomers. It’s the people who are born in the mid 40s to late 50s.

        From an astrological planet dimension. Look up Pluto in Leo.Some of the later silents are very much akin to the boomers in narcissism and self aggrandizement. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are of these individuals who aren’t much different from Donald Trump who is a Baby Boomer

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        June 24, 2020 at 11:04 AM

  8. Lion predictions on personality types or management / working styles that will thrive and succeed?

    TorontoTraveller

    June 23, 2020 at 9:38 PM

  9. Once the vaccine comes the end result we will be back to 90% precovid. So nyc will be less dense but it won’t go to 1980s nyc.

    But I give you props for calling out the virus in early Feb, way before it became evident in March.

    uman

    June 23, 2020 at 9:50 PM

  10. Like as if anyone knows what’s gonna be. Trump, moron or not, is gonna win though.

    Yakov

    June 23, 2020 at 10:10 PM

  11. Industry is why cities were necessary. Now that manufacturing is going overseas, the cities are mostly dead ghettoes filled with riff raff. Anybody who’s anybody now has a house. Maybe not in the burbs, but a rural ranch with fresh food. People want to escape the grime and crime. They want fresh food from local markets. Globalism is a dying fantasy of the OLD.

    • Manhattan is only wonderful, because there is an immense selection of food options. Living in the stick n stones to get away from riff n raff is also wonderful, but only in the right conditions.

      Pick n Poison, unless there is a redefining of status. The only problem is that NAMs (especially blacks) are like urban street critters. Whenever a large urban congregation of the White man are abound, these animals will soon follow. Places in the Hudson Valley are devoid of pigeons, but certain towns that are indeed urban are not.

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      June 24, 2020 at 9:10 AM

    • People want to escape the grime and crime.

      But then promptly recreate the home country. Urbanites are famous for moving into the country and ruining things.

      bomag

      June 24, 2020 at 9:12 AM

      • They didn’t ruin the Hamptons.

      • …didn’t ruin the Hamptons

        Previous residents might disagree; “more people, more scars upon the land” is seldom popular with those who actually live in a place.

        bomag

        June 24, 2020 at 4:11 PM

      • Newburgh, NY has proven you wrong that scars are inflicted when White people with money take up space.

        White people who move into Newburgh:

        Newburgh proper without the White Money but NAMs who are given a cheap living space and still can’t get their sh!t their together:
        https://s7d2.scene7.com/is/image/TWCNews/img_0696_jpg-rev1jpg

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        June 25, 2020 at 10:43 AM

  12. Lion, does this mean you’ll be moving out of Manhattan soon?

    Oswald Spengler

    June 24, 2020 at 12:26 AM

    • Lion has already, in various comments and tweets, made references to movers moving his belongings, his apartment being empty/not renewing his lease, and driving into Manhattan as though it were a novel thing. But he never responds to any queries on such matters.

      Hermes

      June 24, 2020 at 11:45 AM

  13. how many people work in offices, even in cities? afaik they’re a fairly small proportion of the total workforce, like 15%. obviously that’ll be higher in built up urban downtown areas but for the most part most jobs involve people doing physical stuff that you can’t work from home for, like retail and hospitality.

    james n.s.w

    June 24, 2020 at 12:54 AM

  14. Not sure that the analogy between NYC and Detroit is valid. I don’t know a whole lot about Detroit, but from what I understand, the motor industry was its main economic engine. When it lost that it never recovered. NYC is not a one-industry town. So many times in the past we heard that NYC would end up abandoned by everyone. But it never did.

    Maryk (the g-loaded guidette)

    June 24, 2020 at 1:05 AM

    • NYC’s one industry is office buildings for people to work in. If you think of it that way, NYC will suffer a tremendous collapse if half of the people who previously worked in those buildings will permanently work from home.

      • >>NYC’s one industry is office buildings for people to work in.

        That’s a good way of putting it. The most valuable industry operating out of NYC is Wall Street/banking. That can be pretty much done anywhere today.

        Daniel H

        June 24, 2020 at 8:48 PM

  15. O/t – This articles tells you that proles lack nuance and why conservative boring types are of this sort of people (hence the reason why blacks are generally conservative under the manipulation of SWPLs). It also tells you that Trump is high prole while most of the GOP are just proles. Now get this fact straight, Meriprolestan and all the Anglo proles aren’t in anyway liberal or progressive like the EU folks across the Atlantic.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-gop-clash-over-new-round-of-checks/ar-BB15ThIa?li=BBnb7Kz

    Republican morons are afraid that another round of stimulus checks will add to the deficit. Ok, now, what? We already in the deep hole already.

    Ok, what, who's this again?

    June 24, 2020 at 9:33 AM

    • Repubs always said that riots would start when the checks run out. Well, massive checks were sent and we got riots. Maybe better not to give out welfare checks?

      Dan

      June 24, 2020 at 9:46 PM

      • Most likely basement dwelling Tyrone and Jamal were dependents claimed by their parents who gotten large EITC tax refunds. The same goes for rioter Brandon and the other White boys.

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        June 25, 2020 at 8:20 AM

  16. Lion falsely equates cities with work and suburbs with leisure and living. There are plenty of people who work in suburban offices. The reverse commute from cities to suburbs is just as bad as the reverse in many places.
    I have worked from home on and off since 2004, I like the city for gentrification and hot drunk girls. There are nice suburbs, but most aren’t. I’m not moving to rural Tennessee because I can work from there.

    Cow of 2020

    June 24, 2020 at 9:50 AM

    • “I’m not moving to rural Tennessee”

      Rural TN is beautiful.

      Curle

      June 24, 2020 at 9:38 PM

      • I’ve been to rural TN, I agree it’s nice.

      • Lion, if you ever pass through Memphis, you have to see the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid. Wonderfully high end prole. I stayed in the Hotel on top of it (kind of pricey, and mostly vacant).

        Tennessee is on my list of possible places to buy a farm.

        MoreSigmasThanYou

        June 24, 2020 at 11:24 PM

      • Fair enough. I’ve always has a great time in Tennessee.

        Cow of 2020

        June 25, 2020 at 1:14 AM

    • “The reverse commute from cities to suburbs is just as bad as the reverse in many places”

      I’ve known a few Hipster types who live in NYC and staffed the breweries in the Hudson Valley.

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      June 25, 2020 at 10:54 AM

  17. Good topic. Two things left out:

    1. Humans evolved using face-to-face communication. Schmoozing is an important value transference skill. Can it be practiced during WFH? No.
    2. When the cities are the loser where is the winner? The suburbs or rural areas? Or both?

    Please address these if you don’t mind.

    MoreSigmasThanYou

    June 24, 2020 at 10:13 AM

  18. cities were dangerous places because of crime blacks

    Some of my best friends are black

    June 24, 2020 at 10:14 AM

  19. Prior to corona, my employer did not allow WFH, now 100% of the WFH are female.

    E. Rekshun

    June 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM

    • Maybe they have to be there because their kids are doing school online.

      Alice

      June 24, 2020 at 5:17 PM

  20. I suspect the long term changes will be this:

    1. More companies will do always WFH. But it won’t be the norm, but more companies will do this.
    2. The average will be companies doing more things like 3-2/2-3 WFH. Get the benefits of WFH, but allows to have days to do in-person meetings and getting to know your co-workers and other face-to-face stuff.
    3. Some will go back to be always in office, similar to always WFH companies, it’s a spectrum, but the average is gonna shift.

    In terms of cities:

    1. More people will step back to cities
    2. It won’t be enough to cause a death spiral. Instead, once price drop enough, people will be interested in cities again – but hopefully things would actually be affordable. That absurd demand is so high that that drop from the pandemic may bring just it down to something reasonable. Dunno about places that doesn’t have that level of demand though,

    Dreamer

    June 24, 2020 at 3:15 PM

    • 3-2 and 2-3 will favor suburbs over city or rural areas.

      MoreSigmasThanYou

      June 24, 2020 at 11:26 PM

  21. If you job can be done from home, you job can be done from India. All of the people who want to work from home will soon be out of a job and they are outsourced to third world countries with cheaper labor.

    superdestroyer

    June 24, 2020 at 3:17 PM

    • This is somewhat true.

      • I got to hear several Urban planning experts speak at a conference on changes in cities. It is where I learned that the term “boom town” is passe and that one should use the term “centers of economic opportunity.” I asked a panel why after being told in the 1990’s that the information superhighway would allow me to live anywhere that now people are packing themselves into high rent silicon valley or brooklyn and giving up on getting married or having families. The urban planners sheepishly admitted that if one is working from home in a remote location would be the first target for outsourcing.

        superdestroyer

        June 25, 2020 at 7:39 AM

    • Already happened.

      MoreSigmasThanYou

      June 24, 2020 at 11:27 PM

  22. I can’t find it, but there was a great Tweet on the topic. The paraphrase is there will be two types of people in the future – those who work from home and those who get promoted.

    I am hopeful about new org design and ways of working. And elimination of a lot of bs. But the highest value work for a particular industry or job function will always happen face to face. There may be a narrow exception will be the high IQ/full autistic jobs in the 99.9th percentile.

    Luke Stiles

    June 24, 2020 at 4:24 PM

  23. Part of the allure of cities is they are perceived as dangerous, sexy places to live. There will be a never ending stream of hipsters and their ilk filling our borders if rents go down.

    And/or crowded Manhattan living will fall out of favor while outer boroughs skyrocket in value. That would be funny.

    toomanymice

    June 24, 2020 at 5:28 PM

    • Unfortunately, Staten Island isn’t the city for Hipsters.

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      June 25, 2020 at 8:22 AM

  24. “ I remember the 80s when people had the perception that cities were dangerous places”

    Sailer suggests the BLM riots and the late sixties riots that preceded them are really exercises in stopping gentrification by making the inner city uninhabitable for anyone but blacks.

    I remember Times Square in the early 80s. NAMs and porno movie theaters. The porno theaters aren’t coming back. What’s gonna happen? Maybe Giuliani will be re-elected.

    Curle

    June 24, 2020 at 9:34 PM

    • I agree that porno theaters aren’t going to come back because it’s better to watch porn at home.

      • During the lockdown we had a ton of Youtube videos posted showing mayors of towns in Italy telling (often screaming, really) at their citizens not to go outside. One of them even suggested that they could view online porn instead. I couldn’t believe my ears. This was not a young mayor who said this. What kind of middle aged man would tell young people to view porn? I wanted to shout at the screen “Che cosa fai? (i.e. what are you doing?)

        Lion’s comment about porn is not directed at a mass audience, but at his “pride” of loyal viewers. And Lion is not someone in a position of authority. So I judge our leonine host by a somewhat different standard.

        Maryk (the g-loaded guidette)

        June 24, 2020 at 11:01 PM

    • Also, dive bars are a thing of the past is many cities and cheap, poorly run stores go away when the rent it too high. I have always suspect that when urban planners are talking about mixed used neighbhorhoods where one can work, live, and shop, that those urban planners have never realized that 90% of the business in mixed use neighborhoods are restaurants, gyms, hair care, nail salons, and dry cleaners.

      superdestroyer

      June 25, 2020 at 7:42 AM

      • I have always suspect that when urban planners are talking about mixed used neighborhoods where one can work, live, and shop,

        And these urban planners always seem live in spacious single-family homes in the nice suburbs. Sort of like politicians and journalists telling everyone (except their own kids) to study computer programming.

        E. Rekshun

        June 25, 2020 at 10:26 AM

  25. Almost all the money I spend is on physical things: the house, home improvements, the cars, gasoline, food, clothes, consumables like toilet paper, toys like power tools and sports equipment and utilities (which are also physical). Other spending like ski trips and airline flights are also physical things. If I go somewhere and stay at a hotel, that is also physical.

    I don’t get how people can just all work from home. I mean, that just doesn’t line up with my spending. Little of my spending relates to something that is produced from home.

    Am I missing something here? How is this possible? How can everyone work from home when all my spending is on real things?

    Dan

    June 24, 2020 at 9:40 PM

    • In other words, you are asking what all those people working in office buildings in Manhattan are doing. Whatever they are doing, they can do it remotely. Proven fact.

      • I always ask any expert on traffic why cities spend so much money and space to have people commute into a dense urban area so that they can sit in a cubicle and type on a computer. It makes sense to have a medical center with surrounding medical offices since many people need to physically come to healthcare but it makes little sense for people to sit in cubiles in an office where there is no longer a need for filing cabinets, printers, fax machines, copiers.

        superdestroyer

        June 25, 2020 at 7:45 AM

      • I always ask any expert on traffic why cities spend so much money and space to have people commute into a dense urban area so that they can sit in a cubicle and type on a computer.

        I’ve always wondered why one group of commuters travels west, while another equally sized group of commuters is simultaneously travels east. As well as north vs. south.

        E. Rekshun

        June 25, 2020 at 10:33 AM

      • Because the transaction costs of moving closer to your job are very high.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        June 25, 2020 at 3:27 PM

    • The company I work for produces things on your list. My job is work from home. It’s magic.

      MoreSigmasThanYou

      June 24, 2020 at 11:30 PM

      • “The company I work for produces things on your list. My job is work from home. It’s magic.”

        Can you elaborate? You work from home for company that produces physical things? How does that work?

        I am honestly haven’t figured out how this works across the economy. I work from home but I work with patents. That seems like one of those things that can legitimately happen from home. A lot of legal stuff is briefs and documents back and forth and inventors are techies who don’t need much face-to-face but what about all the other things? All the things on my list?

        Dan

        June 25, 2020 at 11:34 AM

    • That is the interesting result of the lockdown. Turns out that most of the actual critical jobs in society are the fairly low paying, low status jobs – stocking shelves at grocery stores, trash removal, repair and maintenance. Also some slightly higher status jobs like farming and police work, but which are still prole.

      Yet the people who have done the best out of the crisis are still the marketing, finance and legal types. The ones who work from home and generate reports and analyses all day.

      And then there are the third group – the useless. The people who lack the intelligence, experience or social connections to be in the WFH group but are too status conscious or overeducated to join the first group.

      Aren’t the rioters/protesters mostly made up of group three? At some level I don’t blame them. COVID has exposed how superfluous most people are to the modern economy, and that is going to make people angry and more partisan even if they lash out in the wrong direction.

      I think the riots are partly motivated by a deep seated recognition among young people that there is something deeply broken about that picture.

      Peter Akuleyev

      June 25, 2020 at 1:05 AM

      • Peter Akuleyev wrote —
        “That is the interesting result of the lockdown. Turns out that most of the actual critical jobs in society are the fairly low paying, low status jobs – stocking shelves at grocery stores, trash removal, repair and maintenance. Also some slightly higher status jobs like farming and police work, but which are still prole.”

        Surely this can’t go on, can it?

        Again, I keep looking at my own spending. I just buy whatever car, food or other consumables gives me the best quality and value for my money. Advertising and marketing has no impact. Gasoline, utilities, grocery store goods, vehicles, these are all commodities. Even my Internet service essentially is due to someone connecting fiber optic and other physical networking hardware around the neighborhood. I pay almost nothing for information itself — it is all free. There is a few dollars for Netflix but beyond that, information is not even in my budget.

        The most highly capitalized and richest companies include Google and Facebook. Online advertisements. But that seems like a sham. Online advertisements have zero effect on my purchases — They do not even register with me.

        Surely knowledge jobs will be devalued and the value physical jobs will increase, going forward, right?

        Maybe Lion’s theory of value transference was right all along. I resisted Lion’s value transference theory because I just want to think economies are efficient and somebody wouldn’t just make a ton of money if they aren’t worth it.

        But value transference would explain a lot. The proles doing most of the actual work are no good at it, while the office workers are much better. But surely work-from-home will mess up value transference, right?

        MoreSigmasThanYou wrote,
        “Good topic. Two things left out:
        1. Humans evolved using face-to-face communication. Schmoozing is an important value transference skill. Can it be practiced during WFH? No.
        2. When the cities are the loser where is the winner? The suburbs or rural areas? Or both?
        Please address these if you don’t mind.”

        It seems like value transference will break down. Without face-to-face, isn’t everything a commodity?

        Then don’t the people who do the actual work finally come out on top?

        Dan

        June 25, 2020 at 9:30 AM

  26. I work from home for a decade already and so are most of the other people in my current company. We still get to meet in an office once in a while and it is very valuable, those days usually help to push things forward, meet clients face to face and even just the change in scenery helps invigorating everybody, it makes going to the office almost like a fun day. So companies will still need offices, maybe smaller ones but it is not going to destroy the city.
    Also, in many cities especially in Europe offices are not necessarily concentrated in one place in high rises and many of those building can be converted to apartments, this will make the city more affordable to the people who actually make it fun, like it was in the 90′. So I think cities are actually going to benefit from it and I even took advantage of the low prices and moved to a nice gentrified neighbourhood in the city centre, it is very nice. The high rises office area in the city is anyway boring and dead at night, only boring professionals in suits hang out in those areas after work and leave early.

    Hashed

    June 24, 2020 at 10:45 PM

    • What do you do?

      Dan

      June 25, 2020 at 11:35 AM

      • software

        Hashed

        June 25, 2020 at 5:40 PM

  27. An important point is being missed. People can be productive working from home now because they are already acclimated to their team. They know everyone.

    But as time goes on and people leave, bringing in new hires who never get to meet the team in person will start to break things down. Over time productivity will collapse if people can’t work together in person.

    As usual, stupid American management teams won’t figure that out until it’s too late.

    Also: pressure to hire non-white has increased astronomically in the past month and this will not decrease. This is going to strain work by adding numerous unproductive diversity hires. Absolute idiots will get hired because black. The future for work is dim.

    Peterike

    June 24, 2020 at 10:48 PM

    • New people have come onto the teams since we started WFH, it’s working out fine.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      June 25, 2020 at 8:21 AM

      • It is a very American attitude that people who work together have to socialize together. Over here in Europe people rarely go out for drinks with their workmates. Work is work and family and friends are family and friends. Not always great for people who don’t have strong family ties and old friends but probably makes “virtual” integration into the workforce easier than in the US.

        Peter Akuleyev

        June 25, 2020 at 10:42 AM

      • Report back a year from now.

        peterike

        June 25, 2020 at 1:48 PM

      • It is a very American attitude that people who work together have to socialize together.

        That had been the case at my previous workplaces, but not at my current workplace – everyone hates each other.

        E. Rekshun

        June 26, 2020 at 1:22 PM

  28. Death to the IQ shredders (A.K.A. cities)!

    PrinzEugen

    June 25, 2020 at 2:36 PM

  29. I completely agree with Lion’s assessment on the mass exodus from cities due to the rise of telecommuting and the riots. The long term political and sociological effects are massive. It is hard to underestimate just how devastating a dwindling tax base and defunding the police will be for these low income black neighborhoods. They will be much worse off than they already are. I can foresee these cities becoming demilitarized zones filled with illegal aliens and welfare dependent blacks where there is little to no commerce or police protection. There will be no good will left among state taxpayers to bail these places out, and in truth, they will be unsalvagable. There will be no escape for most of them because the prices of surrounding suburbs will rise dramatically as the middle class professionals pour into them. This will create even more segregation and wealth inequality.

    My best guess is that rural areas will become the new high status place to live. We will start to see affluent whites, both liberal and conservative, moving to the country where they will create new lifestyle communities with retail, shopping and cultural centers. They will be co-op communities that have legal mechanisms that allow for exclusive membership. In other words, they will be segregated for all intents and purposes. Perhaps a small sprinkling of diversity for virtue signalling purposes. Working class whites and hispanics will service these communities. It will be like a new landed gentry with their own feudal manors.

    Politically this will be bad for the Democrat Party. When city population decreases their power will be decentralized and they will lose their electoral advantage in places like Washington, Illinois and New York.

    B.T.D.T.

    June 26, 2020 at 11:08 AM


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