My World: June 2021…
This is part of a series of articles where our contributors describe how they think things will look a year from now.
Here we are in May 2020. Like many others I am balancing home schooling, working from home and facing constant “comedy” invasions by my two boys as soon as any video call starts.
I am lucky though – I moved out of London to balance having a bit more space with a longer commute. After two years of regret it finally feels like the right decision.
Before pontificating let me set out a brief structure. This may well be proved wrong but I am working on an assumption of threephases to this crisis – lockdown, post-lockdown, and then normality. I expect we will soon emerge from lockdown into a frustrating and long-lasting phase of restricted mobility, intermittent lockdown and persistent uncertainty while we balance the need to work, educate and consume with a constant hidden danger. Eventually, say over 12-18 months, normality will return, dependent on either a vaccine, effective treatment or the virus mutating into something we can better live with.
So let’s assume we are still in this “intermittent” phase in June 2021. More of us will be working from our offices but in a restricted fashion. Hot-desking will be on hiatus, there will be extra space between colleagues enabled by an enforced home working rota and office densities will be a function of what they were originally designed to be (50% of designed capacity, say) rather than how many people happen to be employed. Going out for lunch is fine, but book well in advance due to reduced capacity, mitigated in part by longer opening hours (9am pizza anyone?). Evening drinks are a more civilised affair as table service is insisted upon, but frustrating the thirsty.
Political and economic discourse will be dominated by discourse about how to pay for the massive, essential intervention of 2020. But extra austerity just doesn’t wash this time round and, with new a found enthusiasm for society, most are content to pay a bit more tax, especially when directed to front line health.
Business travel is rare but personal travel, for those who can still afford it, returns as soon as the need to quarantine dissipates: “revenge spending” becomes common parlance.
But productivity suffers. Not all of us perform at our best from home (with or without kids). Maybe it’s analogous to exercise. No one needs to go to a gym to exercise – but, for many, being around motivated people with similar goals helps us bring our A- game. Video conferencing is great when everyone has to use it, but as soon as some are in the office and others are at home it gets tricky and it will be those at home who lose out on the conversation.