Last year, I wrote a column asking a question that is posed every time some new communications technology — telephones, the Internet, video conferencing — threatens to change how people do things at work: What exactly is an office for?
Between 2005 and 2017, the U.S. saw a 159 percent increase in remote working; companies that still believed in offices needed to justify their existence. By and large, they did. The office as a “paperwork factory” was in decline, sure, but as a space for serendipitous contact, for creativity and productive meeting, it was robust. Design firms looked for ways to make offices more “resimercial” — cozier, friendlier, blurring the lines between living room and meeting room.
Then the coronavirus pandemic began. All those magical resimercial spaces were suddenly empty. The line between living room and meeting room was now nonexistent. By early April, Zoom was hosting more than