There have been plenty of discussions, both online and off, as to how the world will change in the wake of the current pandemic. And now the Walloon Minister for Mobility, Philippe Henry, has called for people to keep working from home after the lockdown ends because of the positive impact on traffic and on the climate.
As a result of the lockdowns, there is significantly less traffic on the roads due to a ban on unnecessary displacements, and pollution has gone down all over Europe. Henry wants this trend to continue. “If we reduce the number of cars on the road by 25%, there would be no more congestion,” he said, adding that it would help reduce CO2 emissions.
And bringing an end to congestion would be a very good thing indeed. Especially in Belgium which, being a small country, really doesn’t have the capacity for the amount of traffic that is normally on the roads.
I have to admit that for a long time, I was quite resistant to the idea of working from home. I like being able to leave the office and I can put the working day behind me. I am also influenced by the fact that when I last worked from home, the children were a lot younger, which tended to make things a bit difficult to say the least.
The boys are older now, and a lot less demanding, and I find that when I switch off my work laptop I am perfectly capable of completely switching off from work as well.
More generally, working from home for the past three weeks has brought home just how little I need to actually talk to any of my colleagues. There have been a couple of times where a face to face conversation would have helped, but by normal workflow is driven by email and this is as effective regardless of where I happen to be.
I don’t think the requirement to go into an office will completely go away, but it’s certainly worth considering how many of us need to commute for more than a couple of days a week.