Since early March, San Francisco-based technology company, Twitter, has been encouraging its staff to work from home. Recently, CEO Jack Dorsey took it one step further by effectively giving Twitter employees the opportunity to continue to work from home - forever.
Twitter had already been looking at moving their workforce to a more “distributed” model as Dorsey has commented that he “no longer wants a workforce concentrated in San Francisco.”
This could be interesting. Twitter reportedly has over 5,100 employees - about 1,000 of those based in San Francisco alone. If those employees decide to continue to work from home, what happens to the unused office space?
Could the empty office space be turned into workforce housing with shared amenities (not unlike dormitories) with rooms offered at a less-than-market-rate monthly fee? The art-deco building already has yoga rooms, a cafeteria (with microbrews, of course), and a rooftop deck and garden.
The idea of repurposing the space is nothing new to this iconic piece of architecture. The “Twitter building,” as it is known in San Francisco, was built in the 1930’s to house the Western Furniture Exchange and Merchandise Mart - a showroom for home furnishings. It also was home to a radio station at one point, as well as other businesses. The previous owners, ADCO, had at one time even considered creating condominiums on the upper stories before selling the building in 2011.
The other question that will be answered in the next couple years is how the “distributed” workforce model could change the face of crowded, metropolitan areas. If other companies follow in its footsteps and thousands of workers are freed up to live wherever they want to, will we see a mass exodus to more rural areas around the country? How might that migration begin to affect the ailing housing markets in overpriced areas like San Francisco?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on building reuse as we venture into a new era of working from home. Tell us about any projects you’ve seen or heard are in discussions!