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Potential Amazon Employees May Never Have to Leave Crystal City. That’s Not a Good Thing

An Amazon campus dog park in Seattle. Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Amazon will let you bring your dog to work. Amazon likes to have good restaurants nearby. Meanwhile, there’s a plan to knit together Crystal City, Pentagon City, and the Arlington portion of Potomac Yard into a coherent downtown that’s bigger than Austin’s or Indianapolis’s.

All of this points toward a vision of the future that was far-fetched even a few years ago: Crystal City as a place people would want to remain in after 5 PM.

Perks like good food, hip amenities, and conveniences like dry cleaners and gyms are well-oiled trap mechanisms for employers. Employees are more likely to hand over even more of their time to their bosses if they don’t have to leave their workplace to get a snack or even take a nap. The fiction that you have to spend most of your life at work is already deeply rooted in Washington, and Amazon’s reported highly competitive workplace culture may not be well-positioned to dislodge it. (We should all take a note from Slack, which encourages employees to “Work hard and go home.”)

I don’t want to sound like I’m down on good stuff coming to Crystal City (I live nearby! One of my favorite bars is there!). If all these perks were to rejuvenate a woefully underused part of this region, that could be something to celebrate. But if they result in more people working all the time, that’s not much of a gain.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.