The impact of COVID-19 carries on, and there will be few people that haven't been impacted in some way.
The clearest sign of the time is the substantial increase in people working from home.
This poses a number of benefits and challenges, especially for our predominantly rural area.
Focusing on the immediate impacts many of us have suddenly been thrust into the challenge of balancing work, homeschooling, life whilst ensuring we're isolating as necessary.
In the short term
Plenty has been written about the short term effects on mental health and well being. Having been fortunate enough to work for a company that had adopted remote working I can confirm these challenges and feelings are very normal, and not just because of the pressures of COVID-19. Personally, home working without the social benefits of the office environment, you can last about 2 days before going a little crazy.
What about the long term
This is where we're going to see some serious changes.
- The Death of Presenteeism: Finally we'll see the death of attendance = performance
- Decline of the Head Office: Just why? In modern management doctrine of collaboration, group work etc, why do we limit access to talent pools by insisting people live within 50 miles of expensive bricks and mortar.
- Change to Major Business Districts: Are we about to see a reversal of the industrial revolution where workers are going to leave "Business Districts"? There are certain noises coming from London about the loss of offices.
- Geographic Redistribution of Wealth: I foresee wealth starting to leak from urban centres as well paid (and suitable) jobs, and the related spend starts to reside in the countryside
This list could be endless, but hopefully will make you think. Let's focus on the positives:
- Will 70% of people live in cities by 2050? I can see this curtailing as people and organisations embrace the benefits of better, cleaner rural living.
- Rise of Sustainable Living: This needs to happen for many reasons, and certainly we may need less "c**p" in our lives if we have beautiful places and engaged communities to live in.
- Invigorated Communities: With a possible increase in working populations in the countryside, more spending power, and a wellbeing need. I see the rebirth of the local pub/cafe/shop where people can go to work, and socialise and create the break between home and work.
What could stop the Forest of Dean of benefitting from this shift?
We need to have progressive politics from local parish councils through to district and county councils. We need to imagine a future with vibrant interesting communities with the facilities we need.
Planning needs to support the potential growth of communities, and the growth must be beneficial, we need to grow communities, not just houses, so we must develop the community facilities, schools, shops, and transport links to make communities work.
Future proof digital infrastructure
We must invest in our digital infrastructure, this includes it must be part of future developments and re-development. We're not just talking about connectivity in the street but also within premises.
And Finally, complete the FEP Broadband Survey
In 2019 we carried out a broadband survey call How Fast How Good. The main takeaway from this is that users with Fibre Broadband were reasonably happy; however, satisfaction plummeted for non-fibre customers. So we are launching How Fast How Good 2 in 2020. We want to revisit the survey, especially off the back of COVID, to understand what impact the pandemic has had on you; and also to engage an audience of users who might want to work with FEP longer term to give us additional real-world feedback on your broadband.
Take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SMK6LQ6
David Trevelyan, Director and Digital Connectivity Lead