The news that Twitter is going to allow its staff to work from home on a permanent basis must have brought cheer to those who dislike offices and meetings. Perhaps employees of a major technology company are more likely, anyway, to be the sort of people who enjoy working according to their own hours, in their own environment and in their own company. Perhaps the world of offices and meetings is already becoming a world of ageing, grey-haired men and will disappear altogether as online platforms for discussion and organisation develop. Covid-19 might forever dispel the notion that human endeavour depends upon people gathering in a room so that hierarchical relationships can be asserted. Tasks can be allocated online, feedback can be shared online, ideas can be exchanged online. The sort of people who liked to sit around a table and dominate conversation will be discomfited.
But it is more than a question of interpersonal dynamics being changed. If remote working is an option, then there is the potential for profound social changes.
Online jobs will be open to anyone, anywhere. There will be no requirement to be within commuting distance of an employer, no requirement to be able to afford to live in a particular place in order to consider applying for a particular job. House prices in cities will flatten and even decline as demand for housing in urban areas begins to fall. Companies will save the massive expense of office accommodation and will have a far wider range of potential employees.
Commuting will become unnecessary, trains will no longer be crowded, roads will no longer be clogged with traffic. Countless millions will be saved when there is no necessity to buy railway tickets or fill cars with fuel. Mornings and evenings without jams will improve the quality of life for everyone.
Companies following the example of Twitter and allowing working from home to become a permanent arrangement will give their employees an inestimable number of hours back. How many hours are spent in journeys to and from work? Even working for a company a few miles from home probably demands that staff allow half an hour each way, an hour a day, five hours a week. Workers able to work from home will have more time for their families, more time for leisure, more time for their communities.
Money saved on travel will allow for expenditure on desirable things, it will bring more spending in local businesses, more wealth for local communities, and will reduce the income of oil companies and motor manufacturers.
The Twitter option could really change the country.