Lockdown has been good for us, on balance

COVID has made for a challenging year, but a lot of good has come out of it.

Forcing many of us into a socially-distanced, work-from-home mode has accelerated what, for many, was inevitable in working-practices. The benefits of doing your job from home are now been realised by up to half of the population, and are many, but not all of it is good:

  • Reduced commute. For some this might be removing the whole commute thing, saving time, money, and the stresses associated with that hateful rush-hour thing. Saving on average £250 a month and giving an additional 40 hours a month to spend with family has had immeasurable benefits.
  • Eating-in. Not just because we can’t go to the pub or to restaurants, but we’re not spending a tenner a day on Costa coffee and lunch at Pret. Mostly, our diets have improved as well as healthy eating became a thing and we avoided processed-food lunches and daytime snacking.
  • Less distraction by being focussed on your work and less idle chatter has lifted efficiency. Some folks are able to do more, others simply finish their day earlier. Either way it’s a winner.
  • Companies have gained to. Offices are closing, efficiency is up, costs are down. Some of these savings are passed onto staff, but on the flip-side it also means fewer staff are required so hiring slows down and the redundancy looms for some.
  • Mental health has been challenging for all sorts of reasons this year; increased isolation and work insecurity are a real concern, but reduced workplace harassment and overall lower levels of work stress is good to see.
  • Zoom culture is a mixed bag. Fewer and shorter meetings is good for all, but the pressure to perform in the online world hasn’t suited everyone. It’s pretty much here to stay and will become the norm, the allure of making all those work visits and meetings from the comfort of your own home is difficult to overlook.
  • De-urbanisation. Already we’re seeing the demand for housing away from traditional working centres decline. If you can work from home then why choose to live in an area based purely on it’s proximity to work? All you need to decent internet and you can live and work in Whitby rather than West Chiswick. Property is a good deal cheaper, larger and often comes with an increased quality of life.
  • Debt is down. The average UK consumer is better off by about £500 a month and many have used the savings to pay-down expensive short-term debt. Others have cut their mortgage terms by overpaying and some have started active savings. Less debt is good for the consumer, but not so good for the economy as UK plc relies on a lot of leveraged purchasing to help the money go round.
  • Smaller lives. Doing less outside the home, fewer holidays, fewer miles in the car, and engaging in nature is good for both the soul and the environment. Over-consumption was one of the biggest threats facing mankind so any reduction is a good thing.

Of course, massive upheaval and change doesn’t suit all and their are victims. But, an opportunity to re-boot how we work and live is a one-in-lifetime thing. COVID has, in many cases, caused us to re-think our lives, our jobs, and our families. Many now have different dreams and aspirations.

This isn’t over yet. COVID is going to be with us for a long time, but most now can see the light at the end of the tunnel and this new light looks cleaner, less-polluted, and all together a better world.

We just now need to pay for it. Bugger.