The scene along the Silicon Docks in Dublin city centre is so quiet that you can't even hear the familiar drone of traffic on a grey Wednesday morning.
There are more seagulls and swans milling about than software engineers and tech workers, and most of the coffee shops have only one or two customers.
There are lights on in the vast gleaming Google complex that straddles Barrow Street, but almost everybody seems to be at home, bar a few security guards at the entrance.
Thousands of Google staff have been told that they can work from home until the middle of next year.
The work-from-home message is even stronger at the Twitter offices on nearby Fenian Street. Jack Dorsey, the social media corporation's chief executive, sent out a company-wide email in the summer informing employees that they can work from home "forever".
Other multinationals employing thousands of staff in Dublin do not expect them to be back in their offices until after Christmas at the earliest. No wonder the docklands and Dublin's central business districts seem almost deserted.
The opportunity to work from home is being billed as one of the few positive side effects of the spread of Covid-19. It may be seen as a perk by some, but to others it is a curse.
We are now realising that it comes at a heavy cost to the small businesses and employees who provide services to the 235,000 office staff who worked in Dublin city centre before the coronavirus.
Coffee shop owners, hairdressers, restaurateurs, sandwich makers, cleaners, taxi drivers are all part of this economy that depends on office workers, and they have watched their trade almost vanish.
Small business owners miss the hubbub of vast numbers of employees coming and going, and taking lunch breaks, as well as the social life built around office life.
Shane Boyd, who runs the Natural Cut hair salon on Wicklow Street, says: "I look out the window at lunchtime and it is no different to any other time of the day. There just aren't many people around.
"Luckily I have loyal customers, but local businesses are being hammered by the absence of office workers."
What really spooks traders in the city centre is the fear that a lot of this business will never return, even when the pandemic subsides.
Dublin Town, a trade body representing city centre businesses, estimates that just 25pc of the office workers who make their living in Dublin city centre have returned to their offices. It is now being widely forecast that thousands of workers may never go back to offices, or if they do, they will still spend much of their time working at home.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, does not mince his words as he describes the plight of many of his members.
"Large urban centres are dead, dead and dead," he says. "There is no footfall and there are no customers. It's an eerie ghost town feeling."
The latest casualty was the Shack Restaurant in Temple Bar, which closed for good on Monday. Owner David Ellis issued an emotional statement on social media: "With a broken heart and deep regret, I have to let you know that my wonderful restaurant of 25 years has not survived the turbulence of Covid-19."
Walking through the docklands, it was noticeable that many businesses remained closed by Wednesday of this week.
In the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC), the Ely Wine Bar and Grill, popular among workers for celebrations through boom and bust, remained closed and weeds were growing on the terrace. The normally bustling Munchies sandwich bar nearby was also shut.
Many businesses across the city centre are struggling to survive, and there are doubts about whether they have the resources to trade for many more weeks.
The key question among the owners of these businesses - and indeed across the entire Dublin business community - is whether the office workers will come back in sufficient numbers to revive the city centre.
With thousands absent from office blocks, Karl Purdy, the owner of the Coffeeangel chain of coffee shops, says: "I don't expect things ever to return to normal. Pandora's Box has been opened.
"While working from home doesn't suit everyone, it will suit some people and that will change the situation in the city centre. There is a whole new world order coming and it is up to us to adapt."
At the IFSC branch of Coffeeangel, trade has fallen by 65pc this year.
While it may be premature to write off the office as the beating heart of the service economy, business analysts are certainly questioning its future.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, large groups of employees had to gather in rows and cubicles in expensive city centre buildings. But is there still a need for it in the age of Zoom, and what happens to the workers who support this service economy?
A report by Deloitte, the consultants, would not have provided much comfort to those who hope that the home working boom is a temporary Covid-19 phenomenon, and that all will return to normal once a vaccine is in circulation.
The report suggests rents will fall and vacancies in office buildings will rise as occupiers rethink their post-Covid needs to reflect more working from home, and in some cases employ fewer staff.
Large employers in Dublin "will no doubt seek to establish more permanent remote-working protocols and structures", the report predicts.
"This will ultimately reduce headcount... as more flexible working practices for staff become the norm and companies seek to reduce what is a large operating expenditure, reducing floor space requirements," Deloitte says.
Offices will not disappear, but some of them will serve a different function.
The report envisages that offices will become "destination workplaces".
These will be "used primarily for client and staff engagement, training programmes and the most 'collaborative' elements of work".
Under this scenario, staff would not commute every day to their workplaces to perform routine tasks that could be carried out at home on a computer. Instead, they would travel to the office for important face-to-face meetings.
One of the difficulties for employers is that if they plan to bring their staff back to offices, they will actually need more space to comply with social distancing protocols.
That is why many workplaces are considering a hybrid model where staff come in two or three days a week and work from home for the rest of the time.
The exodus from the city centre is not just a Dublin phenomenon - office workers have performed a similar vanishing act in cities such as New York and London.
As businesses shut up shop, offices keep their workers at home and wealthy residents move away, the New York Times has carried such panic-stricken headlines as "Is New York City 'Over'?"
In Britain, the disappearing office worker and the resulting threat to city centre life has become a major issue - a BBC study found that 50 major employers had decided not to bring back all their staff to the office.
There have already been heavy casualties on the high street. The sandwich chain Pret a Manger, which relies on a lunchtime work crowd, announced recently it was closing 30 outlets and cutting 1,000 jobs because of plummeting demand.
There seem to be mixed messages from governments about whether employees should be encouraged to return to the office.
A few days ago, it was reported that the British government would mount a major campaign to encourage workers to pack their laptop bags and leave home in the mornings again.
According to the Daily Telegraph, this was expected to extol the virtues of returning to the workplace, making the "emotional case" for mixing with colleagues and highlighting the benefits to mental health. But this drive stalled amid fears that a mass return might not comply with social distancing requirements.
Earlier in the summer, many companies in Dublin and elsewhere had made plans to bring workers back to offices by the beginning of September. But as cases of Covid-19 rose and lockdowns were introduced in three midland counties in August, the government advised that "people should work from home unless it is absolutely essential for them to attend in person".
Graeme McQueen of Dublin Chamber says: "There was a bit of frustration in the business community about that announcement.
"A lot of companies had been working very hard to welcome back staff - and some had already come back. All of a sudden people were told that they would have to stay at home again."
It is now expected that more employees will move back this month if the back-to-school phase has run smoothly.
Staff returning to their offices will find one-way systems, hand sanitiser stations, as well as more cubicles and plastic screens. Starting times may be staggered, and there should be greater distances between desks.
But most observers believe the process is likely to be slow. Richard Guiney, chief executive of Dublin Town, predicts that occupancy in city centre offices is likely to be only 40pc by Christmas.
The pandemic has already left scars across the centre of the city with the closure of stores such as Debenhams, Oasis, Warehouse and Accessorise.
"Independent retailers in Dublin are losing money and now it is a question of how long they can sustain that," says Guiney.
"My greatest fear is that after Christmas there is no improvement in the situation and people may make the decision to close."
Since the pandemic emptied office blocks, there have been debates among bosses and employees about the merits of home working.
Who does it benefit, and does it stifle the kind of creativity that can come with collaboration?
Employers who favour remote working will see the obvious savings from reducing their requirement for commercial property, but they may be tied in to leases.
Employees have had contrasting experiences. While some enjoy the fact that they are not spending hours every day commuting and are making savings on childcare and commuting, others struggle in cramped conditions, and have found it hard to look after children while trying to work.
Peter Cosgrove, founder of the Future of Work Institute and a former director of the recruitment firm CPL, believes employees should be wary of remote-working initiatives.
"It helps organisations rather than employees," he says. "They can reduce real estate costs, and they find that certain people are no longer needed.
"I believe that in the next six months, there will be a huge number of job losses. It's a lot easier to fire someone you don't see than someone you do see. The reality is that the people who are more likely to be let go are those working from home."
He adds: "When companies find that they can get somebody to do the job one hour away, they'll consider if they can get somebody to do it 6,000 miles away for 20pc of the cost."
Most observers agree that a permanent result of the pandemic will be a growth of home working, but that does not necessarily spell the end of the office and a vibrant city centre.
Cosgrove is sceptical about doom-laden predictions of the death of the city, as we all supposedly dream of living in a rural idyll.
"The global trend of the last 50 years has been for people to move to cities rather than away from them," he says.
"There is a real attraction to the excitement of city life, and in the long term people will want to return to that."
Decrying those who are writing off New York, the comedian Jerry Seinfeld recently summed up the attractions of city life in a different way. In an article in the New York Times, he said: "Energy, attitude and personality cannot be 'remoted' through even the best fiber optic lines," he said. "Real, live, inspiring human energy exists when we coagulate together in crazy places like New York City."
Graeme McQueen of Dublin Chamber says the sudden growth of remote working confirms a trend that was already there. He believes the city has to adapt to changing circumstances.
"The pandemic highlights the fact that the long-term future of the centre is as a place where people live as well as work," he says.
"We don't want it just to be a retail, restaurant, café and office ring with people living outside that. We should have people living off Grafton Street and Henry Street.
"If you look at the roots of Georgian Dublin, it was all about people living in the heart of the city. We should want to get back to that."
Katie Cantwell, owner of the KC Peaches chain of restaurants, says: "The situation in the city centre for businesses is pretty dire. My fear is that we could be losing the amazing vibe and dynamic atmosphere that we have in the city."
She expresses concern that independent businesses will close, or that there will be a Starbucks or McDonald's on every corner, because they are the only businesses that survive.
"We have to do everything we can to ensure that doesn't happen."