The economic winners and losers from the coronavirus crisis

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A great redistribution of knowledge workers is afoot, says entrepreneur and founder of Russian Exchange Bank Alex Konanykhin, CEO of TransparentBusiness, who also says the coronavirus pandemic is producing a few winners (Zoom) and a huge swath of economic losers.

The coronavirus pandemic is producing a few winners and a huge swath of economic losers, but the longer-term trend worth watching is the great migration of knowledge workers that is now afoot, says entrepreneur and founder of Russian Exchange Bank Alex Konanykhin.

The redistribution of workers away from major U.S. cities such as New York and San Francisco already was underway before the coronavirus pandemic gripped the world, but the crisis will accelerate that migration as workers seek less expensive real estate and safer locations where they may work remotely, says Konanykhin, the CEO of TransparentBusiness, a New York-based software firm that advises on off-site work training and solutions.

“I envision that real estate in major cities is going to decrease in value simply because millions of people will discover that we don’t have to commute, let’s say, to Manhattan every day,” he said during a podcast interview.

In New York, Konanykhin predicts there will be an exodus to the suburbs or places like Long Island or New Jersey. The next phase comes when workers will begin to question the overall value of large metropolitan areas, and consider locations such as North Carolina or other states and regions with less expensive real estate, he said.

“For the same price I can have a mansion, ocean views, clear air, good schools, et cetera. It’s going to redistribute knowledge workers on the planet in a totally different fashion,” he said, with better work-life balance, lower cost of living and essentially a better quality of life. “Real estate prices are going to change dramatically.”

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In the short-term, video platforms such as Zoom and others will be clear winners as remote work expands, while travel, entertainment, sports, restaurants, fitness centers and service industries will suffer tremendously, he said.

“By now, over 3 billion people on this planet have been ordered to stay at home. For them, working from home is the only way to stay productive and in business. Companies around the world are trying to find ways to enable efficient work from home,” he said.

Big Brother-types of software, where employers track every keystroke an employee makes, are “essentially spy software” and “overreaching,” counterproductive and most likely misguided, he said.

“Corporate America is not going to manage remote workers blindly. There is going to be a significant degree of transparency,” he said. Such tracking software may be used primarily out of desperation but employers must be mindful of employee’s privacy, he said.

“There are gentle ways to do transparency and coordination and very intrusive ways. Obviously everybody has to make the right choice to make sure the benefits don’t come with disadvantages,” he said.