Think globally, act locally: How cities are adapting to the suburban shift

By Julia Hobsbawm

22 Feb 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

Julia Hobsbawm, writing for Bloomberg, believes the locus of power is shifting away from the city and central business districts. Offices may need to relocate or fragment into smaller, regional hubs.

To paraphrase Karl Marx, all workers of the world are uniting. They seek change, and in tight labor markets white collar workers are increasingly getting it. The number one trend for human resource departments globally, according to Mercer, is "improving the employee experience for key retention populations." That translates roughly to "the balance of power has shifted." My working assumption: The power struggle isn't just people but place and specifically the city has a renewed competitor - the suburb.

The draining of revenue for Manhattan is just the latest alarm bell tolling the end of the central business district, the area most associated with offices as we know them. In Australia, so-called e-changers have moved from cities to regional and coastal areas but kept their city jobs. In London - a city defined by its sixfold growth in a decade at the beginning of the industrial revolution - the collapse in commuter-based revenue and rise of anti-commute habits is such that Govia Thameslink Railway, the U.K.'s largest railway network, is offering discounted tickets on Mondays and Fridays.

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