The COVID pandemic has shown that we are quickly able to shift away from our normal routines and patterns imposed by government, business, societal norms, and plain old habits.
The most obvious examples of this are the speed at which we all have adapted to schooling, working, and shopping from home. This presents us with an opportunity. The pattern of our pre COVID lives had been ruled by the 5-day working week, the 2-day weekend, regulated opening hours for retail and hospitality, fixed hours, fixed terms and holidays for schools and education establishments, and fixed bank holiday dates.
Our adherence to these imposed patterns has resulted in the design of services, infrastructure, and workforces to meet peak loads. Despite massive investments in pre COVID-19 times, we had rush hour congestion on public transport, overpriced and overcrowded airports and expensive holidays during school vacations, crowded offices, shops and restaurants during term times and broadband networks struggling at peak times.
With peaks there will always be troughs, when inversely our infrastructure will be under used. The result is that during school off peak times we have, for example, under used transport systems, millions of square feet of educational buildings empty, teachers on extended holidays, half empty office buildings, and quieter retail areas. Conversely at the same time we have busy airports and overpriced holidays. This wastes money.
The opportunity, therefore, is to find a way of levelling the peaks and troughs of how we live and work, thereby putting less strain on our infrastructure, allowing for an overall greater usage and capacity of that infrastructure. This in turn would bring better use of our money, more school places, cheaper holidays, and reduction in stress on those systems, on our time and on ourselves.