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The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic is changing the world forever. Previous epidemics, such as the 1918 flu pandemic and the bubonic plague in the 14th century, had enormous consequences and this latest pandemic is now impacting all our social, political and economic systems. But, while it’s important to acknowledge and remain aware of the tragedies that COVID-19 has brought for many people, there are plenty of positives and benefits that provide a more optimistic outlook than much of our doom-laden news.
As the UK enters ‘lockdown 3’, requiring everyone to stay at home and only leave for specific reasons, we’d like to kick off 2021 with this review of just some of the positives that have arisen from this pandemic.
Lockdown has required many people to work from home and for businesses to quickly adapt to accommodate this sudden change. This has resulted in far less commuting, fewer vehicles on our roads and much more time spent in our home environments. Less commuting has alleviated commuter stress and provided many with significant savings on their routine travel-to-work costs, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also given people more free time to focus on their well-being, physical fitness and family relationships.
People have discovered that working from home means fewer interruptions and distractions, more efficient meetings (held online) and often more comfortable work environments that don’t necessarily require dressing for work. Homeworking has prompted many organisations to focus on exactly what they need from their staff and they’ve discovered that this lockdown-prompted change has improved staff performance and provided significant business savings.
Home schooling has meant that, for many, their home environments have not only become work places they’ve also become educational establishments. One-to-one tutoring can provide youngsters with many benefits they don’t get in school. It enables teaching to be paced appropriately for the learner and the distractions and pressures that exist in classrooms are completely removed. Lessons can be devised for their specific needs which makes the learning process more enjoyable, efficient and effective as well as building stronger relationships.
The restrictions on travel and interaction during this pandemic have resulted in significant reliance on technology. Central government and local authorities have used various video conferencing platforms to enable their work to continue safely, without putting people at risk. And these platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and Messenger, have enabled many collaborations which would previously have required face-to-face contact.
These capabilities have been invaluable for those who have suddenly become remote workers, enabling them to take part in meetings and interact with colleagues. The same technologies have also enabled many new collaborations to emerge and develop, which previously may have never occurred. For example, musicians and artists are making contact with others to share ideas, provide feedback and build valuable new relationships.
Official figures have shown that crime in England and Wales significantly decreased during previous lockdowns. Over the months from April to June 2020 theft offences dropped by 43% and robbery crimes by 47% year-on-year. The closure of night-clubs and pubs along with the reduction in crime opportunities brought about by the ‘stay at home’ guidelines are key factors in these massive crime decreases. The fact that people were spending significantly more time in their homes is considered to be a key reason why burglaries and house break-ins declined.
Knife crime and firearms offences are also reported to have fallen, year-on-year, over the months from April to June 2020. But it’s important to acknowledge that police figures show a 9% increase in reports of domestic violence over the same time period.
Unfortunately, cyber-crime has escalated with the UK reporting a 31% increase during the peak of the pandemic. This was underpinned by the sudden requirement for people to work from home with many businesses having inadequate cyber-security precautions in place.
The sudden changes imposed on businesses by the Coronavirus pandemic has prompted many to carry out much needed risk assessments to ensure they are as safe and secure as possible. As noted, some businesses have been targeted by cyber-criminals resulting in significant loss and expense. But many have learned from these experiences, carried out their own risk assessments and beefed up their procedures, protocols and practices to ensure they don’t become crime victims.
We’ve already mentioned the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions due to far lower levels of commuting, vehicle usage and air travel. Significant reduction of air pollution has resulted in some truly remarkable transformations in cities which were previously shrouded in clouds of horrible exhaust and smoke. The previously murky canals of Venice, for example, are now crystal clear as the number of tourists has declined and the amount of boat traffic reduced.
The National Trust is reporting that UK wildlife is thriving and rare species have been identified in areas that have become free from human disturbance as people remain at home. At a time when the world is very much focused on climate change these observable, tangible environmental benefits are prompting many to consider what we need to do to sustain these positive changes.
Remarkably, around 300,000 people have quit smoking and a further 2.4 million have reduced the number of cigarettes they smoke due to the increased risks of developing severe illness from Coronavirus, according to YouGov figures. Research has shown that smokers under 30 are more than twice as likely to have stopped smoking because of COVID-19 than those over 50.
Many people are reporting their bank accounts are much healthier than they normally are just after the Christmas social and shopping bonanza. Lockdown restrictions and government guidance to stay safe and remain at home have meant people haven’t been casually eating out, visiting pubs or going to shows and social events. And working from home has meant they aren’t spending money on fuel, lunches, snacks or casual shopping.
While the hospitality industry is clearly suffering, these changes have meant many people are simply not spending as much on their day-to-day expenses as they previously were which has been great for their bank balances.
Britain’s departure from the EU presents many challenges and uncertainties for businesses and travellers. But new lockdown restrictions on travel mean there are fewer vehicles heading for our borders which alleviates the load on our border forces at this difficult time. This is providing some businesses with additional time to get to grips with Brexit related changes.
Lockdown and COVID-19 travel restrictions have resulted in many holiday cancellations and the Foreign Office is warning people to avoid non-essential international travel to almost all countries. But with vaccinations now being rolled out across the UK many are considering their future holiday plans.
Suddenly introduced government restrictions in 2020 resulted in many people suffering last minute cancellations and 2021 is likely to remain challenging for the travel industry and holiday makers. Some airlines and holiday companies which normally only sell tickets and holidays 12 months in advance are now taking bookings for 2022 with good discounts and reassuring guarantees of easy, cost-free date changes and refunds.
Lockdowns and COVID-19 travel restrictions keeping people at home have given many people additional time which they have put to good use. On average around 57% of people have invested time or money in personal development and remarkably this percentage rises to 77% in younger age groups. The most popular activities have been exercising, learning a new language and learning to cook. Additional free time has been beneficially used to learn and develop skills and knowledge for both fun and career progression, many taking online courses to develop work-related capabilities.
The roll out of COVID-19 vaccines is providing hope for the future and cause for cautious optimism. But this pandemic isn’t yet over so we must remain vigilant and cautious.
If you need help with any aspects of safety and security please give us a call on 01273 475500. We are always happy to help.
This message was added on Thursday 7th January 2021
Need Help or Advice?
Call the Insight team
01273 475 500