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Close look: Home working - What's the big story?

3 years ago
Restrictions on the Chinese city of Wuhan were lifted, but entire countries across the globe remain in lockdown. Life has changed dramatically as individuals and families are required to stay in their homes, and to keep ‘social distance’ from their neighbours and friends. We take a look at the new normal lifestyle of working from home.

Some economies are well suited to home working. That includes the UK, where 40% of people are employed in high value-added service sectors. However, being constantly connected can be stressful and clear work/leisure boundaries are vital. On the positive side, traditional activities like baking, DIY and growing vegetables have made a comeback. Although hospitals report a sharp increase in cases of ‘traumatised eyes’! 

Technology has come into its own. Platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zencastr, once the preserve of conference calls and podcasts, are now household names. Home workers and their children are exercised and entertained by online gyms and school lessons, by virtual quizzes and box sets. The demand for streaming services and home deliveries has soared, and the share prices of Netflix and Amazon have hit all-time highs.

Environmental benefits can be seen in clear skies and clean air. But as the 50th anniversary of Earth Day came and went, it seems the picture is not that simple. Research has shown that the internet, and the infrastructure that supports it, is one of the worst culprits for rising carbon dioxide levels. It seems the power requirement of electronic devices and data transmission is right up there with the global airline industry.

Will we ever revert to the old way of working? As restrictions are lifted US companies are calling for ‘guard-railing’ from liability lawsuits, in case their workers are called back too early and fall ill. Such government protection could give a crucial confidence boost. And allow businesses to restart the global economy, which has been so dramatically stalled.

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