The effect of Coronavirus on the economy of the world has been devastating. It’s impeded productivity for all the sectors of the workforce in Havering. Especially for the shopping districts of Romford, Hornchurch, Upminster, Rainham, Harold Hill and Elm Park. For this reason, the workers have had to be furloughed by their bosses with government support or apply for Universal Credit.
This crisis isn’t caused by a recession, it has been caused by a virulent disease that started from Wuhan Province in China. This pandemic is the greatest health scare since the Spanish Flu of 1918 which killed over 50 to 100 million people. This number however is still disputed and it amounts to a 5% of the world’s population.
The Coronavirus is not as fearful as the Spanish Flu though. In 2020 we have so many advances in medicine and disease control that it’s possible to contain the virus. While our scientists and doctors are busy working on a cure that is currently in the testing phase, we can keep ourselves busy while working from home.
Just because we are housebound to avoid Covid-19 doesn’t mean that we have no work at all. This lockdown has been to me an exercise in looking at ways in which I can capitalise on home based or remote working. As an autistic person I have not got that many job opportunities. The employment rate of autistics is around 15% and of those that are employed some of them work in remote home-based jobs.
In the United States there is a non-profit organisation called the National Telecommuting Agency that helps disabled Americans into employment that are remote based jobs. Recently they have extended their services and are using the remote based worker model that they have excelled in over the years to be applied to a new normal routine for employers.I agree with this for two reasons. One being that it can increase the employment opportunities of disabled people, the other is that it can reinvent the way we work that will help the economy survive the lockdown and continue to be used thereafter.
Working from home means more than just working from the comfort of your own front room. It also means a reduction in the cost of living and people keeping more of their money. Last year a study revealed that Havering commuters spend the most money in commuter fares at the cost of £147 a month. The current cost of an annual travelcard from Havering stations to Central London is £2640. If you include the costs of spending on eating out while in capital that amounts to about a third of your salary. In effect you are spending so much money going to work that you are more likely to be broke by the end of the week if you are on the minimum wage.
By working from home you can save a lot more of your money for a rainy day, or in this case for a lockdown. Currently there are modern advances in telecommunications and multinational corporations. Workers and bosses have more abilities to utilise themselves from remote locations than they ever have before. Not just working with a laptop butallowing employees to set up offices in their homes and furnish them with all the necessary tools. Some countries have been using this method of working for years that they have now counted working on the go, or from home, as hours worked at the office.
By home basing workers employers can also cut the cost of running their businesses as well. In Central London the current monthly rents for offices is an average of £630. The cost of an office space in Romford is around £280 a month, and in Chelmsford it’s £190. Depending on the size of the size of the office and the regulations involved there is also a reduction in operating costs like internet and phone bills, cleaning staff, office stationery, electricity supply, and food and drink on the premises.
There are also several other features and benefits to the home-based working model that would come to local communities. By living the routine of a mobile worker, as I am now, I can go for lunch in Romford or Hornchurch and put money into my local eatery instead of a chain store in the capital. Then return to work by going home again. Such work patterns like this will be useful for spreading out economic development from the capital to the regional areas.
For many years London has dominated the economy to an extent that it has become overcrowded and congested leaving the rest of the country behind in terms of development and unequal wealth distribution. A post-Covid economy will start to value remote working to an extent that it will become the new normal routine. I have seen the benefits in this myself as a distance learning student at the Open University and as an intern for a trade agency that I work for networking for business opportunities between the UK and Africa. I feel a lot happier and more productive in this work routine than I do working in a conventional office.
Autistics and other disabled people working from home feel more comfortable in their environment because it’s built to their own needs. The criteria for making a workspace for autistics involves making it sensory friendly to reduce distractions, controlling the lighting and sound that can affect the mood of a person’s mental capacity and process information, and giving the worker’s personal space a means to get respite whenever needed. The focus should be on using decorations that inspire positive and aspirational thinking to boost productivity and make us happy workers.
Ordinary people can benefit from this as well by applying the neurodiversity workplace strategy to their own lives. The strategy for a home-based market will be useful to attracting top talent from Havering. There is no need for employers to drag workers onto long commutes any longer. This pandemic has highlighted a lot of alternative methods and usages of home-based working. Above all it will benefit the environment and the fruits of our labours as we stay home, keep safe and protect our national wellbeing and economic growth.