Author's note BEFORE THE FIRST LOCK_DOWN in March I circulated this to major newspapers like The Times and Telegraph, as well as to Boris and Rishi. Since then, the government have changed positions on the need to WFH due to Covid-19.
My 'New Deal' extends beyond the changes forced upon us by the Coronavirus. It addresses issues related to the homeless, the need to protect our countryside from over-development, the re-building of local communities, climate change - and many others.
Most of all it aims to create a happier society; a more productive, cost-effective and enjoyable workplace. Collectively, offices would become villages; whilst villages would incorporate office facilities, but with community values outshining commercial ambition.
And, 'yes', I did send it to the CPRE.
The New Deal © John Morey 2020
The global effect of the coronavirus offers an opportunity to rethink how we live and, particularly, work - better and more efficiently.
So. Here's the deal.
* Going forward, more/most "office" people work from home. Systems are devised to ensure productivity is sustained or improved upon versus current office-based levels. Efficiency is improved anyway because travel to work is reduced.
(Improvements to Broadband will also ensure that face-to-face communication will not be "missed" if Skype and facetime features can effectively replace them and maintain human inter-action, to ensure we don't become total robots.)
* As a direct result, the need for existing offices will reduce. This will release commercial real estate for residential use for private individuals, families, and for collectives such as residential homes for the elderly.
(It is acknowledged that offices are essentially functional and may not, aesthetically, be considered attractive places to live. However, when one considers how Victorian warehouses have been converted into luxury apartments, it is not unreasonable to expect architects to rise to the challenge to make these conversions suitably appealing.
Furthermore, many in-town former residences have become offices over time. This process should be reversed.)
* This will have a direct beneficial effect on housing supply - alleviating pressures on our valuable countryside to provide new sites. Jobs in the building sector will be retained as work is redeployed to office conversions.
* In areas of where the supply of offices suitable for conversion is intense, this process will create new "local" communities - and therefore a new supply of new residents and therefore consumers.
These new "villages" (if out-of-town) or town-based "neighbourhoods" can attract essential retail and social amenities. These provide local jobs whilst reducing the carbon footprint and, possibly, anti-social behaviour.
The coronavirus appears to be having a similar global economic effect as did the great depression, WWII and more recent economic turmoils. For those times, governments relied in some part to Keynesian theory. The above "deal" hopefully captures some of the latter in principle, but is a somewhat different way in terms of more social and environmental benefits.