AUGUST 2022 FRONTPAGE NOTE
The recent events of the pandemic have left many of us to feel that we must learn how to exist in a new reality. We all had to learn how to continue to work while the buildings and offices as we knew them were shut down. Remote work was the only way that about two-thirds of Philadelphians could maintain their income (Blumgart, 2021). [MH1] Virtual happy hours and bouncing from zoom meeting to zoom meeting became the “new normal.” In a post pandemic world, models of remote work are shaping more than just organizational structure, they are changing the cultural practices of our communities.
In Philadelphia and beyond, the pandemic led to a massive personal and business lockdown. A once bustling cityscape was temporarily rendered unsafe, profitless, and inaccessible. Both food and road traffic disappeared almost overnight, having a devastating effect on our Center City district. Although things began to pick back up in the Spring of 2021, many neighborhoods have yet to recover to their pre-pandemic atmosphere. Many who were working remotely at the peak of the crisis have either transitioned to either a completely remote or hybrid work schedule. We are seeing some positive impacts of these changes. “Bedroom neighborhoods” that were once relatively devoid of people during the day have been able to better support the economic success of small restaurants, bookstores, coffeeshops, and other businesses because of remote work (Saffron, 2022). [MH2] Spending more time at home in their neighborhoods, many Philadelphians have invested in beautifying their streets and building community with the people that live nearest to them.
While there is disagreement about whether hybrid, remote, or in-person work practices provide the most inclusive environments for city dwellers, it’s clear that this transition has brought many issues of equity to the surface. Having headquarters in Center City ourselves, the Economy League is incredibly sympathetic to the Center City employees whose jobs have been impacted by these changes, but we also see that the pandemic has allowed remote workers the choice to spend their time and resources within their own community. Investing in place can, in turn, strengthen the fabric of our entire city’s economic ecosystem. And because we have unusually high levels of residential density in our central business district, Philadelphia was and is somewhat better positioned than other peer cities to continue to generate retail demand.
It’s clear that remote and hybrid work is not going anywhere. And it’s important that city planners, policy makers, and business leaders continue to reflect on how these changes can both improve and undermine equitable and inclusive growth in Philadelphia.
PAGE COMMUNITY DIRECTOR
Blumgart, J. (2021, June 4). What will happen to Center City if commuters never return? Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://www.phillymag.com/news/2021/06/05/philadelphia-commuters/
Saffron, I. (2022, July 25). Stop obsessing over empty offices. Philly could have a future as a 'bedroom city.'. https://www.inquirer.com. Retrieved August 1, 2022, from https://www.inquirer.com/news/center-city-downtown-business-district-fu…
[MH2]Maybe we can reference this article somewhere here? https://www.inquirer.com/news/center-city-downtown-business-district-future-bedroom-neighborhood-philadelphia-amenities-affordable-housing-20220724.html#loaded