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What happens when it is all over and what will have changed?


Assistant Director of Policy, Rachel Anderson's latest column for The Journal

Whilst we are still in the teeth of this crisis and it will go on for some time yet, thoughts are now turning to what happens when it is all over and what will have changed? For certain there will be a new-found respect for many occupations, care workers particularly and all those in supply chains who have kept us going. However, I’d like to add my own heartfelt salute, to the barbers of Great Britain. Having finally bit the bullet and cut my son’s hair for the first time this weekend I am in awe of their skill. The results of the haircut were…. interesting and no, I will not be sharing the photographs.

But what else might change after we come out of the current crisis? Certainly, there will be a whole new way of working with more electronic meetings taking place and much less travel. Home working has tested the technology to destruction and, where people were previously hesitant, they have gained confidence and embraced the brave new world. Talking to someone on a screen was science fiction to kids growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. Those kids are now Zooming and sharing documents across the world like it is something we’ve always done. There will still need to be physical meetings, and we shouldn’t forget that our transport and hospitality industries will need our support, but this has been a game changer for how we communicate.

Work life balance is also likely to change. Things have become less formal in business, whilst I haven’t yet seen anyone in a onesie on a conference call, casual is definitely in and formal may not return. I have seen children, dogs, cats, spouses and even a postman crash in on conference calls (is it a new verb? To Confbomb) and nobody minds. People like the informality; even if they are secretly judging your curtain choices.

Lastly, there is travel. Many have got used to the two-minute commute and being able to spend time with their children rather than sitting in a traffic queue.The workforce is going to want to keep some of that, so we’ll see working from home becoming more normal.

We are loving the clean air and being able to hear birds. This may well have won the argument on environmental protections and politicians might find public support for previously unpopular measures.

Its an uncertain time and many things are rubbish but, there may be some silver linings.