The chief executive of Brookfield Asset Management has cast doubts on whether workforces will turn away from city centres and offices after the coronavirus pandemic passes.
“People are social beings and have, for centuries, increasingly chosen to live with others,” Bruce Flatt wrote in a letter to shareholders alongside the company’s quarterly results. “We do not think that the current situation will reverse the urbanisation trend that has been underway for a long time.”
Flatt compared the current discussions about video-conferencing encouraging remote working to arguments made around the inventions of the car, telephone and internet.
“None of these has changed the fact that people favour being in cities and in offices,” he added. “In fact, quite the opposite has always been true in past. These communication tools historically enhanced great cities and offices rather than supplanting them. We think this will play out the same way this time as well.”
He continued: “Offices and cities have been designed to ensure that people can meet with others; that offices incubate the culture of a company; and that they are important tools in training and growing younger talent. While we have seen these interactions constrained in the short term, we don’t believe this will alter the long-term trend in any meaningful way.”
Brookfield posted a loss of $656m (£500m) during the three months to 30 June. The company recorded its best period yet for fundraising during the quarter, securing $23bn and taking its total amount of unspent capital to $77bn.