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Have you been working from home during the pandemic? How would it be if this becomes permanent?
Adrian Leopard 562

Have you been working from home during the pandemic? How would it be if this becomes permanent?

This could be one of the most dramatic changes to society over the next decade

One of the big changes to life style during the pandemic has been the fact that people were instructed by the government to work from home if at all possible.


The instruction was then reversed when restrictions were lifted and then reversed again when things clearly were going to get worse again. But the fact is that this arrangement is going to become part of the “new normal” because it has in fact proved appealing both to staff and the employers.


British Airways has announced that it is going to sell its large headquarters building in London since it intends to operate a hybrid approach to staff locations in the future. Previously this building housed 2000 staff but with the new policy the company considers that it will not need such large premises in the future.


BA are not alone. Reach, the company which owns the Daily Mirror, Daily Star, Daily Express and hundreds of regional newspapers in the UK and Ireland has made the same decision and is calling its journalists to work from home. They believe that this mode of operation during the pandemic has proved itself and so they intend to push forward with it.


These are just two high profile names. The truth is that this is going to become very widespread across the country. Employers will see it as a major cost-saving exercise and in general the idea has gone down well with employees.


This raises a number of very interesting issues. Not all people will have adequate facilities to work at home where excellent communications are going to be paramount as well as the space to dedicate part of the home to become a home-office on a permanent basis. It could precipitate a mass moving house operation as people decide on the need to scale up.


Secondly, the idea of working at home will mean that staff will have far less contact with other people, perhaps coming to know their work colleagues purely on a virtual basis. By contrast to that, it may be that cutting out significant travel time, people will have more time to engage in activities within their local communities instead.


It might be fine during term time but what on earth is going to happen during the school holidays when the children are at home as well? Working from home is one thing but working from home when you have three children under the age of eight getting under your feet is really going to be quite another. Mind you there will be some parents who can work while looking after their kids at the same time!


What will happen to office buildings in towns and cities? We are already seeing high streets and city centres losing their shops with life changing effects on these areas. Losing high street shops is in fact nothing new and in the good old days local authorities were worried about shops being replaced by offices with town centres losing their community spirit. Well, now they stand to lose the shops and the offices so what will replace them?


And what will become the fate of catering businesses which sell take-away food to office workers, and to a lesser extent, restaurants where “business lunches” still take place?


What about transport facilities? Will we see a massive reduction in road transport? Will our public transport facilities end up being under-used?


Actually the list of questions about how life will change is absolutely endless. The effect on business and the economy will be marked as well; half the number of cars on the road will have a super effect on carbon emissions but what about companies which sell cars and sell the fuel to enable them to operate?


It is likely that unemployment will rise as a stay at home economy will probably result in many business closures.


Of course over a period of time, things may change and people realise that they need the opportunity to get out more. However this may take many years to happen and in the meanwhile society will have to adjust to this extraordinary new state of affairs.


However, I speak as an individual who has worked from home for four decades and very successfully indeed and when that started communications were nothing like they are today – now it is so easy and cheap. It is already a brave new world which is about to become an old world as we approach another brave new world over the coming years.


Adrian Leopard 21-03-21


Photos Roberto Nickson

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