At some point between 1995 and 2020, remote work became technologically highly feasible, but the world didn’t much notice until it had to during the pandemic. And then suddenly within a few months in 2020, opinions around the world shifted widely to that remote work was more or less good enough.
In hindsight, it’s an interesting challenge to the Efficient Markets Theory: apparently, the remote work trillion dollar bill was lying on the sidewalk for a number of years between 1995 and 2020 and very few profit-driven organizations picked it up in any kind of enthusiastic way until the spring of 2020.
If you follow the Work from Home train of thought long enough, you will realize that the education industry could have been entirely replaced by library cards and standardized tests many, many years ago.
As Cutter summarized in comment #5, it’s about control on the business’s side. On the worker/consumer’s side, it’s about paying for the luxury experience of wearing fancy clothes and feeling important. These lose their appeal once you have kids or can’t make the rent.