As corporations settle into a new normal of employees working partly or entirely at home, new businesses have sprung up to offer efficient designs for flexible office space, telecom software to connect team members, and other tools to make seamless connections among home-based and central-office workers.
In 2020, companies spend $317 billion on technology to enable remote work to proceed efficiently, research firm Gartner reported, a figure that will grow to $333 billion this year, the company predicted.
The new businesses are targeting concerns that those who work away from the office are “out of sight, out of mind,” missing out on the spontaneous chats and collaborations that spark innovation and possibly be slighted for promotions.
Software from start-up Tandem offers a digital desktop that aims to create a sense of “presence,” the ability to know what other teammates are doing in real time even if everyone is not in the same physical space. 
Priced at $10 a month for each user, Tandem shows which team member is on a call, available to talk, drafting a Google document, or doing some other task that another member might take part in.
Pragli, launched in 2019, enables standing audio or video calls that colleagues can join if they wish; Owl Labs offers a 360-degree video camera that swivels in the middle of a conference table, allowing remote workers to see who’s speaking without people in the room needing to reposition a camera, phone, or notebook computer.
Kumospace places remote callers in a virtual room they can move through and chat with people they are close to. Envoy makes Desks, software that lets workers book desks or cubicles for days in which they plan to be on site. 
“Customers get much more accurate data to inform space planning,” Envoy CEO Lawrence Gadea told the New York Times. “Do we need more meeting rooms?  Do we need more desks for this team?”
TRENDPOST: As new tools such as these make remote work more inclusive and space planning more efficient, even more companies will adopt remote or hybrid work structures.
That, in turn, will guarantee the permanent loss of tenants for now-emptying office towers, the disappearance of more businesses that rely on commuters, lower values for commercial real estate, and less revenue for cities, cementing a new economic reality that will force urban centers to re-imagine themselves.

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