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The Guardian view on empty offices: goodbye to all that? | Editorial

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August 04, 2020 at 06:57PM

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The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating a digitally driven trend that was already in train. We need to plan for the downsides

In The Good Life, a much-loved 1970s sitcom, one of the main characters would regularly arrive home from work cursing the trials and tribulations of the daily commute. Jerry Leadbetter was an affluent senior manager in a design firm based in central London. By contrast, his stress-free next-door neighbours in Surbiton, Tom and Barbara Good, had opted for a green, self-sufficient lifestyle. They would have been at home all day, working to their own timetable.

Along with The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, the BBC comedy was among the first attempts in popular culture to explore alternative lifestyles and question the merits of a nine-to-five office-based existence. Made almost half a century ago, its theme seems strangely contemporary. Right now, Jerry’s modern equivalent will almost certainly be working from home. And the signs are that they will not be going back to the office in the city any time soon.

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