The ability of more office workers and employers to work from home could reshape housing demand in cities and suburbs away from employment hubs. Increased remote work is causing more people to move further away from their offices, driving up demand in suburban neighborhoods as well as in vacant city spaces left behind. A chain of worker migration could open up new neighborhoods and change the demographics of city and suburban markets, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
Working from home appears to be an outcome of the pandemic that is here to stay. Nearly two years of experience has shown that it is possible, and perhaps even preferable, for many to work from home. Indeed, surveys show a majority of office workers—and a significant share of employers—expect to work from home at least once a week going forward. This ability to skip the commute (even just one or two days a week) could change where enough people choose to live to reshape housing demand in cities and suburbs.
While increased working from home can raise demand for living in areas farther away from city centers, it may not necessarily mean less demand for living in cities. Some urban neighborhoods may even see more demand as highly desirable city neighborhoods, which were once only convenient to a subset of commuters, become more accessible to a larger set of potential new residents. At the same time, however, this could be a problem for distressed urban neighborhoods where proximity to employment centers may have been their best asset.