Will life return to normal after Covid

Following on from Road Closures and the idea of work changing post Covid.

While I take @marymck’s point about work being a lot more than sitting in front of a screen I think we might just see a change moving forward with shrinking office spaces and less travel to and from work. I have spoken to so many people online who don’t want to go back to the 5 day slog with hours of travel and additional expense of lunches and coffees. I have been at my desk at 7am as I can just wonder downstairs and check in, see our helpdesk, check our services are up and running and then go get a coffee. I take my lunch when it is quiet and I can pop out to the butchers if I have a spare 20 mins…
This may sound detestable but I have enjoyed lockdown, specifically I have enjoyed the working from home aspect - the collapse of society and the economy not so much. I have more time and I have been more efficient…
One of my neighbours has been banging on for years about decentralisation of work spaces (for office based jobs) - huge great offices are madly expensive and are a disaster recovery nightmare. Much better to run everything from a smaller more versatile space with people dropping in and out and throw as much IT stuff into the cloud as possible…
Having said all that, as someone who is back to mostly working on site it was lovely to see friends and have a laugh with colleagues I haven’t seen for months…
Do you think people will just go back to the way it was or will there be a sea change

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I think for every one enjoying it there have been people that really struggled.

Next week my work is opening a small part of our building to bring back people who are finding it really hard to work from home.

There is an acknowledgment that people’s mental and sadly in some cases physical health is really suffering.

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Yes I am perhaps not that typical which is why I asked. I work in IT, have loads of kit and great internet. Plus I am not young, I am married,I have lots of outdoor space and I am moving soon anyway. I know people who have struggled with tech and those on their own will have had a totally different experience

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I feel that working from home has been positive for my mental health.

Working from Kent is more relaxing than travelling for three hours a day to and from a congested, polluted and bustling city.

But I am incredibly lucky that my work can be done remotely. So many jobs can’t, and I fear the “WFH era” is going to create yet another societal divide, with winners and losers visibly diverging

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My problem is I am a key worker and the pace and volume of work has been relentless. Video calls are exhausting. Being at home can be very isolating.

I also only have the space to work from my dining table, my shoulders and back are a mess.

That said, not having to commute or dress.for the office are a big bonus, especially in this weather!

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I think it depends entirely on what sector you work in but I can definitely see a shift in favour towards the employee/freelancer when it comes to how much leverage they command in the wake of the lockdown. Looking back, although you can earn a decent living from them, I’m gonna go out of my way to avoid the big construction sites in central London where the foreman prowls around shouting at anyone who has made the slightest mistake. You get less money - or more if you’re on a price - on the big housing sites out by the M25 corridor but for the most part the atmosphere is more relaxed and you get to wear shorts in the summer, etc. I’ve also noticed a ‘you need me more than I need you’ emerging. I won’t mention the name but I got a text from the subcontractor I was working for before the lockdown and the day rate they offered was a third less than they were paying before. Greed has got the better of them, though, as after receiving the text I went on all the London builders groups on Facebook and they were all ridiculing the subcontractor and there’s book running on how long they’ve got before they go under.

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Yeah, I’ve been looking at moving further out. Once the dust has settled and I’ve bought another set of wheels I’m looking to move out to Sevenoaks.

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Sevenoaks is a lovely spot and well connected to London when you need to get there.

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Cheaper and you get more for your money. That, and I desperately miss the countryside.

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Our shoes may never fit us again! I have gotten so used to going barefoot that I look at my shoes now and wonder how they ever fitted!

Having worked mostly from home over the last few years my wardrobe is now almost entirely a mx of casual with an emphasis on sloppy and formal evening event type stuff.

We did buy our house with the priority on having separate workspaces for both me and my husband. And a driveway because we both worked really unsociable and unpredictable hours back then and had to carry heavy equipment (in his case) and scripts, wet weather gear and all sorts of paraphernalia etc (in mine.). But our garden space is just a courtyard and a balcony, which I thought I would find frustrating but which actually suits us fine. Lovely airy views help. At our old house we had a huge garden and I could never leave it be and just sit and relax. There was always something to do. Now it’s more relaxing … apart from all the pot watering, but even that you can do with a glass of wine in your other hand.

We could have had a bigger garden in the area but without the off street parking and we wanted to avoid roads with lots of cars lining the streets, which was a problem even then … nearly 20 years ago.

I think it’s good for families. Working parents can spend time with children. Not so good for single people.

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Trying to work from home with 2 working parents and 2 young children has been almost impossible and a huge stretch which hasn’t been good for any of us.

I still can’t believe we have pubs re-opening before the schools are sorted out.

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pubs are an ‘inalienable free-born right of people’ just as much as schools are.

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Ha Ha my colleagues with children would disagree - it has been really hard.

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Sadly house prices being what they are now a separate kitchen and spare bedroom was a luxury for us, let alone office space!

Yeah - they should be mandating home brewing for drinkers if parents are expected to home school :grin:

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Because the parents need the pubs more urgently?

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I mentioned in a previous post that my old company closed our London office effectively in August last year, and everyone started working from home and commuting to our other office in Hampshire one a week or every 2 weeks generally.

The cost of office space was much cheaper at our new location, for the the few members of staff who decided to move, living costs were much cheaper as well in terms of housing etc. However very people moved and most worked from home.

There are some obvious benefits to people working from home (WFH) - generally reduced travel costs, more spare time with family \ hobbies \ just relaxing with saved commuting time. In some ways the move generated some innovation and made us more paperless than before and there was more focus on effective communication, more video calls etc. There are some drawbacks (the proximity of the fridge being one!), but I do think it’s important to have a work area where you go to work and not everyone will have this. You also need to try and have good desks and seating to avoid back problems, have contingency for internet going down, perhaps amend some IT security requirements if PCs \ laptops will no longer be kept in the office etc.

I don’t think central London will empty of office space, but I think we will see far more expandable office space where you rent meeting rooms etc on a daily \ hourly basis for when you want to meet clients or colleagues.

When I started at my last company back in the 90s we did nearly all our sales, training, software installation etc onsite - I used to travel all over the UK and world doing this and upgrading databases etc, though a lot was in London. At some point in the 2000s this started to change and it’s now completely reversed for all of these as most are done virtually. You still want to meet colleagues and clients face to face from time to time when required, but with reasonably reliable and fast connections nowdays and cloud infrastructure most things are virtual, meaning much less office space is actually required. When I would interview Tech roles, many people had an expectation of working at home at least 2 days a week and I think it’s more of a factor in hiring now and will continue to be so.

So I expect as leases expire over the next 5-10 years we will see a huge change with large companies and small ones alike reducing their office space requirements, perhaps rates going down and maybe less commuting into central London. What will happen to those empty spaces who knows, I suspect they would get filled - maybe all our wonderful key workers will get some affordable accommodation in those areas! I’d hope in the long term more people WFH might give a benefit to local high streets as people will pop out at lunch, after work to get stuff they could not normally do.

edit - I meant to add that if people do WFH say 4 days a week, then moving out of London becomes much more attractive of course. I still like London and what SE23 gives us, and have family here in London (it’s where I was born), so probably won’t move out, but who knows what the future holds later down the line.

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That’s the worst. I used to track 1500+ calories a day with a cycle commute and running around the office to meetings. Now I’m lucky if I hit 500. Hard to motivate myself to get out of the house and easy access to snacks and beer o’clock starts earlier too! All bad.

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Sorry I didn’t mean to imply anything untoward. It took us a lifetime of two incomes and two steps forward one step back to get to where we could afford the house we have now. And we are very old. Even so we had to take on a crippling mortgage to do so, having moved from a much bigger place in the Midlands.

I remember being laughed at by the Halifax Building Society when I as a single woman tried to buy my first property: a studio flat in a pretty rough area. I had scrimped and saved a ten percent deposit, which I then spent travelling instead. Put me off buying for years and it was only the massive orange fungi growing in my post divorce rental that made me try again years later. Interest rates were horrendous then and going up every month. One month the rate went up twice in one month. 16.9% it ended up as.

We put our house on the market last year and everyone who came to view were either first time buyers or on their second buy. You and I @HannahM must be in the wrong jobs! :grin:

Having been thoroughly messed about by the people we’d accepted an offer from, we took it off the market. But it will be going back on soon if anyone wants a house with two studies for home working! (Plug, plug, shameless plug ( :laughing:

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