So they want us to go back to work in crowded trains, to negotiate busy streets and to spend our days in multiple occupancy tower blocks, where offices have to be accessed by squashed lifts and where people are seated close together in large open plan layouts.
Of course we are going to be doing the same thing we were doing from home – working at a computer screen, talking to people in other parts of the world using web conferencing and managing to steal some time for thought and actual work. But we will be saving the jobs of all the people that rely on us to be there – the coffee shops, and sandwich bars, the fruit stalls and the restaurants, the transport workers and the support staff.
So why can’t these struggling businesses move to the suburbs, where we need them? This way we will all be safer and still have our lattes, our made to order sandwiches and our artisan food.
OK, so some massive investment in high rise, multiple occupancy office blocks is in trouble, but we are, after all, rethinking everything, so it is only fair that property developers should go through some re-adjustment too.
Life will probably (and hopefully) never return quite to how it was before, and for a lot of people this is just fine. They have saved as much as four hours a day on their commute, they are in pocket because of the saving on transport costs, they don’t have to buy so many new clothes and they are seeing more of the kids. Studies are beginning to flow in showing that people are achieving just as much if not more from home as they did from the office, and many firms, including some notable big ones are committed to letting people remain in their home working space.
Gone is the stigma that used to be attached to home working. No more are bosses raising eyebrows and questioning the motives behind those who flexi-time. And significantly, companies can potentially save a small fortune on rent, rates, heating, lighting – the list is pretty long.
Won’t people have to occasionally dust of their suits to come in for meetings. Yes sure, but if only one day a week was designated for meetings, this would be a massive improvement on most people’s pre-Covid diaries.
Everything needs re-thinking and the forward looking businesses are the ones that will do best. Covid has proved the home shopping concept, the home working principle and the feasibility of remote meetings. It continues to prove that loyalty programmes are more valuable than actual airlines, that people appreciate having a relationship with those they do businesses with and that valued and valuable employees will work as hard, if not harder, at home than they do in an office.
So please stop asking us to go back to the way things were. Instead, help us plan a new tomorrow that will be better than the past. 2020 has been hard, and painful for some, but it can result in something better.