Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on LinkedIn Share this on Sina Weibo Share this on Wechat Share this on LinkedIn Giving workers in China flexibility to work remotely will help with several pervasive issues, from unaffordable city rents to air quality and the low birth rate.Credit: Norges Bank, Creative Commons CHICAGO – Before the pandemic, firms and workers around the world used emails and conference calls to reduce communication costs. But a lack of coordination made using these technologies fully difficult. Firing off an email was easy, but there was no guarantee of when the other person would respond. People were reluctant to break old habits. Holding a virtual meeting might be interpreted by participants to mean that the topic wasn’t particularly important. More broadly, low demand discouraged product development, leaving much to be desired in many workplace apps. By forcing entire economic sectors into virtual work, the COVID-19 pandemic has resolved many of these earlier coordination problems. Everyone in these sectors has had to invest in new technologies and learn how to use them. And with everyone in the same boat, there is no longer any risk that a virtual meeting will be interpreted in a negative light. Better yet, workplace apps are becoming more user-friendly with every Subscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.