There are a lot of questions these days. Will we get on top of the virus, when will lockdown end and what will the world look like when it is all over, assuming it does? Many of us, those that are lucky enough to be able to, are working from home, tapping away at their laptops and staring into online communication platforms. The jump from office based to home based has been relatively painless and people are inevitably asking why go back?
What is the point of us all travelling into work, getting annoyed at the snarled traffic, occupying expensive office accommodation just to do something which we seem to be able to do quite adequately from home.
We are all asking therefore, will we continue to work from home? The answer, thankfully is no.
I don’t doubt that there will be a period where levels of homeworking remain very high and that the level will eventually settle at a higher rate than before COVID-19 but there will be gradual drifting back to office based work. There are two principal reasons for my conviction.
Firstly, there are many jobs that cannot be done online, even if an element of them can. Many jobs in cities, it could even be most, rely upon the regular footfall of potential customers. All of the cafe’s, newsagents and sandwich shops will cease to exist if we don’t go back in some form. Is this what we would really want from our towns and cities? What jobs would these people do if their services are no longer required?
Secondly though, and perhaps of greater relevance, is the reason that we congregate in towns and cities in the first place and that is because they are engines of opportunity and innovation. People come together to trade in both product and ideas. Towns and cities form because they are the most efficient and effective way for large numbers of people to create wealth. Since the industrial revolution people have flowed into towns and cities and now more than 50% of the world’s population is urban.
Humans are social animals and require close contact to function most effectively. Online working can only go so far and lacks the true human interaction to spark off new ideas.
I’ll see you back in the city soon.