If pushed to outline my theory on The Great Return to the Office™, it would go something like this: even when it is safe to do so, workers won’t be back en masse.
It won’t be the incidental lifestyle benefits or antisocial aftershocks of the pandemic that get in the way. Over time, new-found attachments to 8.30am alarms and puppies and any aversion to in-person colleague contact will fade. But a dislike of long daily commutes will remain.
For many who can work remotely and vaguely effectively, travelling to do it in another place will feel like an unnecessary, stressful and costly performance. And because offices are, well, immovable physical structures, demand for space won’t rebound.