Responding to a future of hybrid work, the 15-minute city | WARC | The Feed
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Responding to a future of hybrid work, the 15-minute city
How will the world return to normal? Employers, workers, retailers and marketers are bracing for what the shift to hybrid work might entail.
Seizing the moment
This week, the Irish government put forward proposals to encourage a greater diffusion of knowledge jobs from urban to rural areas through a combination of tax breaks for individuals and employers who move away from cities, the creation of remote working hubs, and fast broadband rollout whose impact could be a guide to other countries and companies.
Why it matters
It points to growing interest in something approaching the idea of the 15-minute city, an urban planning idea with decades-old roots that is now taking hold from Paris to Portland as industrial, residential, and commercial sectors of cities come together so that everybody – in theory – can work, shop, and access public services within a 15-minute walk or cycle from their homes.
Many companies face decisions over shifting away from a main city-centre office and toward satellites or favouring online channels over costly rented stores in a year of heavy losses.
For retailers, one key to understanding how to proceed could be in the form of geospatial data, as Barclays Bank used to map stores’ catchment areas and watch areas of shifting demand. Marketers, meanwhile, are preparing to tap into the trends towards localism as the commute is eased out of daily life and OOH planners, for example, have to get more creative about allocating spend.
As the purveyors of the back-end software that enabled the shift to remote in the early part of 2020 – and bellwethers of what other firms would eventually do – it is worth watching what major technology companies like Microsoft and Google are doing .
Google, for instance, shocked many observers in July 2020 when it said it would remain remote until at least the summer of 2021, but it was a prediction that looks likely to come true for most employers.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s research shows that over 70% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, though over 65% are craving more in-person time with their teams. There’s also a clear divide between the experiences of more senior employees who are ‘thriving’ during lockdown and those of junior staff who are merely ‘surviving’.
There appears little enthusiasm on the part of employers or staff to return to business as usual, which has significant implications for marketers and retailers used to high-traffic and expensive city-centre locations. Companies are exploring new thinking around hubs and spokes as ‘collaboration software’; retailers and marketers will need to watch this space closely.
Sourced from the Financial Times, Bloomberg, Architectural Digest, WARC, Wall Street Journal, Microsoft
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