Urban Age Virtual, January 19, 2021

Urban Age Debate 1: Socialising Remote Work

Will changing patterns in knowledge work reduce or amplify the human need to meet in cities? Virtual debates begin: “Urban Age Debates“ discuss the nature of cities after the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally challenged the nature of cities. The closure of borders and businesses and social distancing are having an impact in almost all cities worldwide and are threatening urban life as we know it. A reassessment of issues such as density, urban economy, mobility, governance and sustainability could be the result. Urban Age is now taking up these issues with the "Urban Age Debates".

On 19 January 2021, the Urban Age Debates start with “Socialising Remote Work. Will changing patterns in knowledge work reduce or amplify the human need to meet in cities?” The event will focus on the dramatic shift in working conditions that occurred at the start of the pandemic, and how cities can maintain their position as sites of innovation and collaboration in a post-COVID-19 future. By going beyond the professional ‘comfort zone’ of urbanists and extracting new views from professional backgrounds not traditionally thought of as involved with urbanism, this event hopes to spark debate and expand the reach of Urban Age.    

Among the speakers are Richard Florida and Ayesha Khanna and Janina Kugel.

Richard Florida is Professor of Economic Analysis and Policy at the University of Toronto School of Cities and Rotman School of Management, and a Distinguished Fellow at New York University’s Schack School of Real Estate. He is a writer and journalist, having penned several best-sellers including the award-winning The Rise of The Creative Class, and his most recent book, The New Urban Crisis. He is also the co-Founder of CityLab, the leading publication devoted to cities and urbanism.

Ayesha Khanna is the co-Founder and CEO of ADDO AI, an artificial intelligence (AI) solutions firm and incubator. She serves on the Board of Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), the Singapore government’s agency that develops and regulates its technology sector, digital economy and Smart Nation vision. She is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Councils, a group of experts who provide leadership on the impact and governance of emerging technologies.

Janina Kugel is Senior Advisor, Speaker and non-Executive Board Member, of Konecranes, Finland and the German Pension Benefit Guaranty Association. Prior to this, she has been Chief Human Resources Officer and a member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG with global responsibility for Human Resources. She is also a member of the international Advisory Board of Hertie School of Governance, Germany and IESE Business School, Spain.

Chair of the event is Camilla Cavendish, award-winning journalist and Contributing Editor at the Financial Times. She was the former Director of Policy for Prime Minister David Cameron and now sits in the House of Lords as an independent peer. As of March 2020, she has been working with the Department of Health as an adviser assisting with the COVID-19 pandemic. She is also currently a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, where her research focuses on demographic challenges. She is the author of the 2019 book "Extra Time: ten lessons for an ageing world", which is now being read in 16 countries.

In the run-up to the Urban Age Debates, LSE Cities and Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft are conducting online surveys to collect expert opinions and assessments of the event topics. Based on interviews with key relevant leaders, new data on urban dynamics and the survey results, each debate will open new perspectives on the challenges facing cities in a post COVID-19 world. 

Find the event recording and further video material on the issue here