COVID-19 and the Future of Our Cities: The Future of Work

COVID-19 has hit cities particularly hard, some of them harder than others. The extent to which cities have been affected depends on a variety of factors including, first and foremost, the approaches taken to address the outbreak. However, the current pandemic also highlights an urban fabric that is divided along class, gender, race, and income as much as it reveals the vulnerability of supply chains, the strengths and weaknesses of social cohesion in urban neighborhoods, the need for mass transportation alternatives, and the increasingly blurred boundaries between work and residential environments, among others. Once they reemerge from their lockdowns, what will cities look like in the months and years to come? How do we make our cities more resilient vis-à-vis future pandemics and the consequences of climate change? This series of online conversations brings together urban planners, community leaders as well as experts in fields such as public health, sociology, logistics and transportation to help us understand how COVID-19 will affect how we think about the city of tomorrow.

Event Recording

Event Recording

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The Future of Work:

The current pandemic accelerates profound societal shifts that will have lasting effects on how we work going forward. With many employers successfully transitioning to remote work, we can expect more companies to shift an increasing part of their workforce to remote working models. At the same time, many organizations respond to the economic impact of the current crisis by reducing their full-time workforce and replacing it with contingent workers. While gig workers offer employers greater flexibility and lower costs, they often do not enjoy the benefits that their full-time peers expect. Moreover, moving jobs out of company office buildings into home offices changes the ways in which we organize our work as much as it impacts the urban fabric of our business centers. How can we ensure that remote and hybrid work models address inequity and guarantee a social safety net that includes basic provisions such as health insurance, child care, sick leave and other forms of assistance? Do we need policies for new compensation models for our “essential” and yet chronically underpaid workers such as retail salespersons, cashiers, and janitors? If companies drastically reduce their office spaces, how can we creatively reuse these abandoned spaces? These are some of the questions that our panel of experts will address during our transatlantic conversation on Covid-19 and the Future of Our Cities: The Future of Work.

Rebecca Wessinghage
Transition Concepts Officer
ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

Peter Rosenbaum
Executive Director
University Alliance Ruhr New York

Ray Gastil
Remaking Cities Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
David Lewis/Heinz Endowments Directorship of Urban Design and Regional Engagement

Grant Ervin
Chief Resilience Officer
City of Pittsburgh

Ute Klammer
Institute for Work, Skills and Training, University of Duisburg-Essen

Michael Leischner
Head, Climate Protection, Air Pollution Control and Noise Abatement
City of Dortmund

Samantha Maurer Fox
Assistant Professor
Urban Anthropology, Lehigh University


Event Information

September 23, 2020, 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Live Online
Organizer(s): University Alliance Ruhr, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, The German Center for Research and Innovation