Cities have traditionally been the sites of economic agglomeration, reaping the benefits of a high concentration of economic activity, spurred by collaboration and innovation. However, the effect of COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns have forced offices to close, city centres to empty, with many knowledge workers operating from the safety of their homes.
While some trends indicate a return to office-based work patterns (which will be accelerated by access to a vaccine), some commentators welcome the greater personal flexibility and access to the global talent pool afforded by virtual technologies. The debate interrogates the impacts of the dramatic shift in working conditions, how sites of knowledge work have adapted, and how cities can maintain their economic and cultural vibrancy without negatively impacting on productivity, connectivity and personal freedom.
Richard Florida (@Richard_Florida) is a Professor of Economic Analysis and Policy at the University of Toronto School of Cities and Rotman School of Management, and a Distinguished Fellow at New York University’s Schack School of Real Estate. He is a writer and journalist, having penned several best-sellers including the award-winning The Rise of The Creative Class, and his most recent book, The New Urban Crisis. He is also the co-Founder of CityLab, the leading publication devoted to cities and urbanism.
Ayesha Khanna (@ayeshakhanna1) is the co-Founder and CEO of ADDO AI, an artificial intelligence (AI) solutions firm and incubator. She serves on the Board of Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the Singapore government’s agency that develops and regulates its technology sector, digital economy and Smart Nation vision. She is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Councils, a group of experts who provide leadership on the impact and governance of emerging technologies.
Janina Kugel (@janinakugel) Non-Executive Board Member, Senior Advisor and Speaker. Prior to this, she has been Chief Human Resources Officer and a member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG with global responsibility for Human Resources. She is a non-executive board member of Konecranes Oy, Finland and the German Pension Benefit Guaranty Association. and a member of the international Advisory Board of Hertie School of Governance in Berlin Germany and IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain.
Camilla Cavendish (@CamCavendish) is an award-winning journalist and Contributing Editor at the Financial Times. She was the former Director of Policy for Prime Minister David Cameron and now sits in the House of Lords as an independent peer. During the pandemic she has been working with the Department of Health as an adviser assisting on COVID-19 from March to November 2020. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, where her research focuses on demographic challenges. She is the author of the 2019 book "Extra Time: ten lessons for an ageing world", which is now being read in 16 countries.