Filipa Pajevic, Richard Shearmur / City Lab
August 31, 2018
The key challenge I am following this week is how cities are and will continue to evolve as a result of changing work paradigms. The authors of “Work Habits Are Changing: Cities Need to Keep Up” ask that given recent trends and projections about changing work, especially the rise of remote work, should cities care? Are cities responsible to respond to such trends? What would a reaction to these trends look like?
The authors note that companies are at the “front-line of changing work practice… and they manage related cultural changes.” They assert that many of the cultural changes based on workplace paradigm shifts are business considerations and may not be viewed as an issue for the city to address. Pajevic and Shearmur note, however, that where and how we work affects a myriad of issues that have traditionally been the domain of city policy. These include how we site and design buildings, the development of transportation networks, and the provision of public amenities such as open space or Wifi access.
The article calls on planners and policymakers to reconsider the entrenched notion of the relationship between economic activity and the city. Only through rethinking this relationship, the authors argue, can cities successful pivot with the changing nature of work. They contend that there are a variety of planning and policy arenas that should be considered including zoning code, public amenity provision, and public transportation investment (especially reconsidered in the context of a decentralized economy).
These questions signify the need to consider the evolving role of the city in the wake of workplace paradigm shifts. The authors call for planners to take a wide view of the city and reconceptualize the “link between economic activity and urban space” rather than attempting to address individual issues in a piecemeal fashion.