Nervous times for commercial property
Even though it was a government mandate that people should work from home, you could tell they were slightly uneasy about the long-term consequences.
What would become of a population who abandon the concept of commuting to work, and set up base in a spare room of their home?
And what would the economic impact be on everything from tax on commercial properties to the wellbeing of public transport?
These aren’t unreasonable fears, but we believe there’s plenty to embrace about the newfound culture.
Workers like the new way
Surveys have found people are adapting well.
Almost nine in 10 workers said they are their employer had successfully adjusted to working from home.
More than half said they were happier since deserting the office, while a similar number said they now used their lunchbreak for personal matters rather than simply ploughing through work as they used to.
So the workers who’ve adapted are happy, and the companies who employ them ought to be reaping the benefits.
But where can the government act to make these changes even smoother?
Embrace the change that’s already here
After all, even when restrictions are fully lifted, many won’t be returning to the office.
People who previously spent thousands commuting, say, between Glasgow and Edinburgh won’t want to give up their newfound savings.
The government could revamp its tax system to make it more appealing for offices to be set up away from London.
More satellite bases for big companies would allow workers to return to the towns and villages where they really want to live, while still making semi-regular team meetings possible.
How often do we hear of friends and family giving up jobs and careers they love just so they can move to a place that’s more in tune with the personal life they want to lead?
A best-of-both-worlds scenario awaits.
The politicians benefit too
That would very much fit into the “build back better” and “levelling up” rhetoric we’ve heard so much about in recent years.
Perhaps a working population who spent half their time in an office and half at home would be better for redistributing wealth.
Money once spent in pricy city centre sandwich bars could now be reinvested in community hubs, boosting local economies the length and breadth of the country.
If this change is happening there’s nothing any government can really do to stop it.
But there could be many benefits to embracing it, and making the new future one we can all enjoy.
87% - people who say they and their employers have adapted to hybrid working
56% - people who’ve noticed an increase in happiness levels while working from home
63% - people who say they haven’t been pressured to return to the office
41% - people who haven’t been to the office even once since the start of lockdown
75% - people who say they now have more time for family and friends
Source: Microsoft and YouGov
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