Signals Towards a Post-COVID World

As we head into another three weeks of lockdown to tackle Coronavirus it seems the time is right to start thinking about what the world could look like when life begins to return to normal.

Fortunately, Ipsos Mori’s Global Trends 2020 is one step ahead and has begun to assess how people in the UK and around the world are responding to the pandemic and how behaviours may change as a result.

As somebody who works in communications I find the insights fascinating as they reveal the likely context any messaging I put out for my clients will be heard.  But they also offer food for thought about the way we may all change our behaviours and habits, which could have a real impact on our built environment.

How is the Government doing with its response?

It’s so far so good for the Government with Boris Johnson’s approval rating rising from 31% to 51% of those asked.  78% of people also have confidence in the NHS’s ability to cope with the crisis.

BUT 57% of people think that the lockdown measures were implemented too late and 69% fear that the UK economy will get worse over the coming months.

What are people doing with their time at home?

The lockdown has seen people both slowing down to do more traditional activities whilst changing their online behaviours.

49% of us are having more fun with our kids whilst 47% are spending more time on social media.  Of those who can stay away from their screens, 39% are gardening with 33% reading books.

When we are online 27% of us are doing more digital banking, 25% of us are buying more groceries over the internet and 20% of us are doing more general shopping.

How has the pandemic changed our values?

Only 28% of those asked say the UK will return to normal by June and it appears that many of us are willing to accept interventions that we wouldn’t previously of countenanced.  For example, 69% of people would support their mobile phone being tracked to help trace Covid-19 diagnosis.

63% of people say that they want a simpler life, whilst 58% say that the pandemic has made them more hedonistic, with them wanting to enjoy life today rather than thinking about the future.  55% of people have become more nostalgic and want ‘the country to return to the way it used to be’.

So, what might this all mean?

The rise in technology use for social interaction is almost certain to put some businesses off from expanding their commercial office space and encourage more workers to work from home to avoid a long and crowded commute.

This could, in turn, affect the demand for residential property within easy reach of commercial centres, especially if we decide to only go into the office for part of the working week.

The recognition of the benefits of private outdoor space is likely to see a demand for all new apartment blocks to offer balconies (at least) for residents and we could see an increase in demand for allotments in built-up areas.

According to the ONS, we are all spending significantly less than we did before the pandemic, partly as a result of restaurants and entertainment venues being shut .  Will we see an uptick in this type of spending after the lockdown or will we continue to enjoy spending more time at home?  What impact will this have on our high streets and entertainment complexes in the long term?

For those interested in politics it could also have a longer-term impact on the role of the state.  How we pay for the various economic measures announced over the last month to support the economy is perhaps the biggest political question that will need answering this year.  With the Chancellor of the Exchequer paying many people’s wages and the fabled ‘magic money tree’ seemingly found, there could be greater acceptance for state intervention in other areas, such as land supply and higher levels of taxation to pay for the State delivering more.

This could, in-turn, provide a path back to power for Labour should more people accept the need to pay higher taxes to support enhanced public services.

Of course in a year’s time none of this could be true…..but I’d be interested to hear what you think the ‘new world’ will look like.  Tweet me @kevin_whitmore

BECG is a sector specialist communications consultancy for the built environment. We provide our clients with expert counsel and award-winning communications services.  You can download BECG’s Guide to Digital Consultation here