Prior to COVID-19, around half of the working population’s waking time has been spent in an office, at a place of work, or travelling to and from this location. ‘Home life’ was very much something that occurred in any other remaining hours, forcing personal and family time to be secondary to employment. Since the pandemic, however, enforced working from home has drastically shifted this Work-Life-Balance. With less time spent on communing to and from work, and more time spent at home, there is now more time for ‘home life’ available.
COVID-19 has thus allowed us the unique opportunity – albeit somewhat of an enforced experiment – to imagine an alternative to our post-war work ethic. A work ethic that largely prioritises office culture over mental and physical health. Already, we have seen how the additional time available for home life is used for exercise, spent on hobbies, enjoying local nature, and with our families. A key consequence of this is the possibility of a future working population who are less prone to stress and its multiple health effects.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the flaws of our previous work-life-balance and allowed us to glimpse an alternative. Rethinking this balance for industries where it is feasible has the potential to create happier, healthier citizens. And happier, healthier citizens could create happier, healthier families. Even encouraging part-time home working post-COVID-19 could have significant social, economic and health benefits for much of the UK’s working population. Therefore, the ways in which the pandemic has allowed us to rethink our Work-Life-Balance represents a significant cultural shift which should be explored by government as a possible new paradigm for the UK.