With governments around the globe beginning the process of lifting restrictions, its time to think about life after covid. A big part of that is the impact the pandemic has had on businesses and their employees. For a vast majority it seems to have had some positive impacts while for others it was detrimental.
Beginning with the industries which have suffered the most, we have travel, manufacturing, some retailers, food sellers and the leisure industry. Since these are industries which are people focused they’re literally plunging head first into more and more immense hardships the longer the pandemic continues. Travel and Leisure most of all have seen the most decline due to almost every country having debilitating restriction. Their situation is a significant issue which governments and economist will likely still be struggling with for years to come but they’re not the focus of this piece.
Focus On The Positive
Instead we’re going to focus on the positives Covid has brought us. Top of that list is working from home (WFH) and why going back to the previous system after covid is a silly idea (in some ways). According to research by finding.com:
- 60% of the UK’s adult population are currently working from home during the Coronavirus lockdown.
- On average, each of these workers will save £44.78 a week by cutting out things like commuting and buying lunch out.
- This results in 23.9 million Brits working from home are saving around £1.1 billion each week between them.
- 26% of Brits plan to continue to work from home permanently or occasionally after lockdown.
- Before the lockdown more than 1.54 million people work from home for their main job, up from 884,000 10 years ago.
- Two different surveys both found that around two-thirds of employees say they’re more productive when working from home.
- However as more people work from home for an extended period of time, one in five remote workers have previously said they struggle with loneliness.
- It is currently estimated that the retail industry will lose £253 million as a result of COVID-19, with in-store employees unable to work from home.
You would think with all the economic and productivity benefits that working from home affords that most companies would opt to keep the model after Covid. You would think so but don’t be surprised to see a return to the former status quo. Most big companies have offices and buildings to fill for no other reason than them being full. There’s already buzz in the UK about people going back to offices by June and I wouldn’t doubt that some are looking forward to it. Some of us may have had a positive experience working from home but others have struggled. This I believe to not be a by-product of the work from home model in of itself but rather the restrictions brought on by the pandemic.
A New Work From Home Model
Working from home while still being able to meet up with mates after at the pub, restaurants and gyms would be the ideal option. This is especially true for parents who have had to not only work but also juggle looking after their little ones at that same time. Having *kids back in school along with the ability to socialize outside of your own family bubble should prove much more appealing than either the current WFH model or working in offices again.
* (Mind you this all has to be done with the safety of everyone involved. Most of all the children.)
With a reported average of £44.78/ week in savings, the average UK employee could see almost ₤200 extra in their accounts per month. That money could be allocated to more objects of leisure and thus applying that much needed boost to an industry which assuredly needs it. If those excess funds are currently being saved then you could have a cool ₤1200 in the bank by the time summer rolls around.
It’s either that or you could grab yourself a nice PlayStation 5/ XBOX Series X and a new Tele to go along with em. Lol who are we kidding, you can’t get one of those even if you had the cash. Better to build yourself a spanking new PC and grab yourself a few nice games with the extra cash.
More For What Really Matters
Not having to go to the office also means more free time for the things that really matter. The average daily commute in the UK is 59 minutes. If you’re outside of London, for example in Reading or Slough you’d be looking at an average of 45minutes to an hour one way by train to London. Not having to commute means you can get that extra hour of much needed rest or a couple matches of PES in before the lunch break is over. Less commuting also equates to less pollution.
The full impacts of the shutdown and the environmental benefits are not yet known in the UK, but estimates for the reduction of pollution in China include:
- CO2 emissions dropped by at least 25% in February 2020.
- The number of “good quality air days” increased by 22% in February 2020.
- Around 77,000 lives may have been saved due to the reduction in air pollution
All That Glitters Isn’t Gold
So far we’ve painted a beautiful picture of working from home but it’s not all glam. Speaking from personal experience, working from home may intensify loneliness, affect health, and eventually lead to less productivity.
- 30.9% of remote workers say that they struggle with loneliness when working remotely.
- 22% of telecommuters say that “switching off” after work is their biggest challenge.
- 62% of remote workers want employers to provide better technology that helps them stay connected with their colleagues.
I’ve written before about picking up an injury due to poor ergonomic practices while working from home. A practice that some will no doubted partake in due to a lack of proper equipment. Many UK based companies have sort to avert such outcomes by affording their employees an allowance to acquire the right sort of equipment to work from home however such practices are not yet mandatory and as such some may find themselves with new injuries purely from lack of adequate equipment.
If poor posture doesn’t get you then it’s the act of taking fewer breaks and working longer hours that will.
Those earning around the UK’s average salary (£29,600) would lose out on £14.57 by working just one hour extra per day. By taking a shorter lunch break or working 30 minutes longer per day, you would be working 10 hours unpaid every month, which is worth £174.80 for Brits on the average salary.https://www.finder.com/uk/working-from-home-statistics
Research has also linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns. Included among these are obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels that make up metabolic syndrome. Too much sitting overall and prolonged periods of sitting also seem to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
So what’s the best option for after Covid? Well the answer will differ depending on what industry you belong to, your access to proper ergonomic equipment and own personal discipline towards your own health. If you’re capable of taking regular breaks, have the right equipment and your job affords you the option then take it. If not, then back to the status quo you go.