Since the pandemic started to wane and our lockdowns came to an end, I've seen the results of several surveys, taken in various parts of the world, all of which have cited hygiene concerns as the main reason people have been reluctant to return to their workplaces. While I can see this would be an important factor, surely quality of life should be given equal footing? To not have to sit in a car on the motorway or negotiate road humps, chicanes and 20mph speed limits in urban areas and towns, whilst worrying we could be made late by unexpected roadworks or traffic jams makes a huge difference – as does the daily commute on public transport involving the inevitable delays to, or cancellations of, services. Homeworking allows many of us to have an extra hour in bed or take the children to the park at the end of the working day, or take up a new hobby, using time that would normally be eaten up by the commute to and from the workplace.
In the UK we have to contend with the ongoing disruption caused by striking railway workers, with those in other sectors threatening to stage their own actions which will make going out to work even harder. In many other parts of the world, farmworkers are staging traffic-disrupting convoys in protest at their livelihoods being deliberately destroyed. What’s not to like about working from home? Oh yes – the price rises threatening to make our energy bills unaffordable! These could force us back into our workplaces, although the businesses we work for may cease to exist because they’re subject to the same price rises too. Where – and how – is this all going to end?
The most recent survey on return to work hygiene fears cites cleanliness of desks and kitchens being more of a worry than dirty washrooms. Most workplaces have cleaning products lying around and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s resorted to a spot of DIY at times, where others haven’t left certain spots as they would have wished to find them.
I haven’t seen mention of the many farmers’ protests in mainstream media which is worrying since what’s going on is going to affect us all in terms of food shortages and upwardly spiralling prices. Nor have I seen coverage of the impact strikes and empty offices have on the cleaning industry which must make the running of these contracts an absolute nightmare for those involved. But that’s because we’re always the last to be considered – if we’re even considered – isn’t it?