At the height of lockdown, there was an emerging trend of a drop in footfall in our city centres, according to the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.
"Larger city centres suffered worse across the UK, with a drop of 89.7% as consumers stuck to their more local shopping areas (during April)," it said.
The trend was notable across all of the UK, with villages and smaller high streets benefiting from the stay-at-home worker.
"Footfall shifted away from large towns and cities to smaller, more local centres," the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium explained.
In Northern Ireland, high street footfall dropped by 79.2%.
City centres with a high density of office workers continue to feel the pinch even as lockdown restrictions ease, with businesses geared towards that demographic struggling most.
Recent research by UK firm Instant Offices revealed that 73% of employees considered working from home to be the new norm.
It indicated 83% of workers felt they did not need to be in the office to be productive, with 68% of businesses saying they had a flexible working policy in place.
Several major corporations have adopted policies that will allow employees to work from home, with Twitter offering its staff the opportunity to work from home permanently.
Such trends, if implemented by local employers, could see the landscape of our city centre transformed, with retail dwindling and office properties struggling to find tenants.
The changes in how people work are definitely having a tangible effect on retail across Northern Ireland
Day-trade specialists that thrive on office workers' lunch breaks and after-work purchases will be hit hardest.Aodhan Connolly
Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said shoppers and businesses needed to pull together to ensure the vibrancy of our city centres was preserved.
"The changes in how people work are definitely having a tangible effect on retail across Northern Ireland," he added.
"As people are no longer travelling to work in towns and cities, we have had a drop in footfall, which is needed to keep stores ticking over.
"Stores such as convenience, fast food and those with sandwich counters are suffering most, with some still not reopened because they really rely on the lunchtime and evening traffic from workers.
"This is one of the reasons that we have asked the Executive for support for the retail industry.
"While we are allowed to open, that doesn't mean that we are able to trade profitably. We need the support of the Government, but most of all we need the support of our shoppers."
The city centre office market will evolve as a result of Covid.Neil Gibson
Neil Gibson, EY chief economist for Ireland, said the shift in workplace culture would hit the office market too.
This is despite last year's Deloitte Belfast Crane Survey revealing that the city had one million square foot of office space under construction or completed in 2019, more than 80,000 square foot up on 2018.
"The city centre office market will evolve as a result of Covid, with a more flexible working culture likely to be adopted by many firms," Mr Gibson said.
"It is possible to imagine a reimagined workplace that is (designed) for meeting and collaborating, with more routine tasks carried out remotely.
"Many firms are still gathering evidence to determine the best way forward for their office footprint. What do staff want and what is possible under new health and sanitary guidelines are the most common questions being considered, alongside the usual analysis of cost."
Mr Gibson suggested that different working patterns could open up new opportunities for retailers. He also insisted that working from home would not sound the death knell for offices.
"Many firms report that staff mood is changing as the time at home extends," he explained.
"As we head towards autumn and winter, many of the costs of less social interaction may become more apparent.
"So, while there is much being written about the art of the possible in terms of remote working and the development of smaller, more adaptable workplaces, it is important to moderate that with the voice of the office worker.
"Surveys show there are aspects of the office that workers miss and we are likely to see a return to office life for many.
"That will be little comfort for a business for whom even a modest reduction in long-term demand would be devastating.
"Perhaps they will see new shift patterns opening up new sales opportunities in the early mornings or the evenings, so all is not lost.
"A vibrant city centre has much to offer to workers and can help their morale and productivity, but it will not return to exactly the way it was before."
The hospitality trade in the towns and cities around Northern Ireland is also taking a hit from office workers' new-found flexibility, said Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster.
"The loss or drop in workers in town centres is a huge blow for hospitality," he added.
"Footfall drives spend and office workers go for coffee, lunch, a pint after work and quite often dinner. Any drop in footfall has a direct impact on hospitality. We are looking at the tourism budget and asking authorities to promote coming back into centres because if we don't have the office worker, or 'coffice worker', as the trade might call them, what do we replace them with?"
Mr Neill said city centres were transforming and diversifying to include office, retail, hospitality and residential elements prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and that the reshaping of our towns as we currently know them was inevitable.
"There has been a sway towards a more mixed trade and to make retail a more social experience, so I do see our centres becoming less retail-led, but there is still a lot of growing to do," he stressed.
The hospitality chief is currently waiting on the 'wet pub' reopening date for those bars that don't serve food.
"In our line of work, we are carrying out online meetings. They work well, but they take the social element out of it," he said.
"By nature, what we do for a living has a social side to it and there's that old water cooler line.
"While working from home is good for some things, like intensive projects, for everyday life it's a long day to sit in your kitchen or home office."
Chris McCracken, managing director at Linen Quarter BID agreed. "As the economy recovers, many organisations will appreciate the enhanced innovation and collaborative working that only the shared work space of the office can bring," he said.
"The Government is now encouraging a return to office working and we are already starting to see this in the Linen Quarter among both the public and private sectors."