COVID 19 changed the way everything worked. The bosses were kept safe in the offices and the workers were sent home. Remote work became the new thing and companies tried to idealize it to add employees to this new concept.
The nature of any job is: change. Some people will need to move closer to these new jobs, but that’s not the problem. Instead of making efforts to achieve these national migrations, cities must manage how to recover their economy, including work for the people and companies that are still there. That implies dismantling policies that stifle the economic potential of minority employers and workers.
These and more are some of the key considerations leaders must have to rebuild their community after COVID 19.
Embrace the knowledge economy
According to an analysis by Brookings, in the last decade, the growth of the workforce has been concentrated in R&D services and high-tech manufacturing in just five metropolitan areas of the U.S. Coast. But the workforce always has a place within metropolitan areas.
Amy Liu, Vice President of the Brookings Institution and Joanne Kim, a journalist with the Brookings Institution, found that the concentration of jobs in metropolitan areas increased much more in the pandemic.
This trend has attracted new jobs in commercial districts where gastronomy, art, and urban planning prevail. Even rural areas have benefited from the density, as land and energy are being worked more efficiently.
Reinventing the market with proximity
The first consequence of generalizing work from home will be that existing offices can no longer be in remote locations or with outdated structures. Before COVID -19, some office spaces were already empty because they were located in isolated suburban areas.
The pandemic economy accelerated the reinvention of the office market, with increasing interest in future business districts. As more employers offer their employees to work from home, local leaders must provide them with options outside of their homes so they can get their work done.
With the increase in vaccinations, health risks decrease and workers can thus enjoy the flexibility of working in cafeterias, libraries, public parks or rented offices.
Black Neighborhoods are still under-resourced
Most of the country’s highest-earning workers (62%) can work from home, but this reality is not feasible for everyone. A large portion of black, Latino, and Hispanic workers must show up at their workplaces to do their thing.
This group of workers faces severe housing and transportation challenges, and any recovery plan targeting the workforce should focus on these issues. People of color are also twice as likely to be without a car and therefore more reliant on the public transportation systems that Covid-19 has devastated.
The American Rescue Plan relief package will help transit agencies stay solvent in the short term, but in the long term, it will require broader action, including building more homes in existing neighborhoods and near transit stops. as well as better public bus and train routes.
Small business investors are overlooking big market opportunities due to bias. Author and columnist Andre M. Perry says that appraisers value businesses in black neighborhoods less than similar businesses in white neighborhoods. This systematic discrimination has robbed residents of these communities of the opportunity to earn income that could be invested in education, housing, or business improvements.
A post-COVID-19 city must address these issues to emerge more inclusive. This is not charity – there is high market demand to promote density, reinvented office districts, easier routes, and new neighborhood business corridors.
Addressing this requires creative financing, real estate, land use reforms, and multi-sector partnerships.
It also requires companies to think empathically and to find ways to solve problems the community is facing in a proactive way. Us at eSmart Recycling have discovered that when we are working with companies who are actively trying to go above and beyond and implement sustainable metrics in their day to day business, finding creative solutions to measure their bottom line for their stakeholders, and find vendors who are also committed to positive change, their culture thrives.
This is not a competition between urban centers and neighborhoods. Leaders must rebuild regions to be centers of activity that improve income and ensure opportunity for all races.