Photo: Quang Nguyen Vinh/Pexels
Everyone is wondering how city living will change in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, our curiosity has been so extreme that many people didn’t question it when fake images of dolphins swimming in the canals of Venice circulated online. We are living through such strange times, that it feels like anything could be possible. Indeed, all predictions at this stage are estimates. However, given the public sentiment that we have seen throughout the pandemic, we can safely assume that city living will adapt in the following five ways:
A New Office-Based and Work from Home Balance
We have all had our lives shaken out of whack in the past 12 months, juggling homeschooling, working from home, and minimising visits to the local supermarket. Post-pandemic, we can expect to see a gradual return to the office environment. However, most companies are likely to maintain a flexible approach.
There has already been a sharp upward trend in demand for serviced offices in Melbourne, which is reflective of a broader trend towards smaller and more adaptable office environments, which accommodate meeting spaces and hot-desking arrangements.
A More Cautious Approach to Disease Prevention
Our new COVID-routine of handwashing, sanitising, and social distancing is likely to become a part of life for a long time to come. People’s new awareness of the spread of germs will continue to alter our day-to-day habits. Public transport may need to evolve, wearing masks in the street will be commonplace, and people will be more likely to work from home or take the day off rather than come into work with a cough or cold.
Cleaner and Less Crowded Major Cities
We have already seen many people relocate away from large cities and reduce their office time from five days each week to two or three. Alongside these personal changes, the whole world watched the impact on our energy usage and the environment. In Europe, electricity consumption dropped by 30-40%, and air quality in major cities improved dramatically. There will be a public push to preserve these changes as we move forward.
A Demand for Simple Pleasures
With a slower approach to life and more time spent at home, we’ve seen a return of many traditional pastimes like growing backyard veggie gardens and baking bread. People rediscovered the joy of breathing in the fresh air while they cycled around their local area. Taking a stroll down around the neighbourhood became a treat. We have spent more time with our families and loved ones and less time sitting in traffic. As this trend continues, you can expect to see container gardens appearing on balconies around the city and local composting initiatives springing up around you.
A Greener Approach
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with a time when there were enormous amounts of publicity surrounding climate change. In many people’s minds, the challenges that followed cemented the fact that we can’t go on living the way we have been. We need to slow down our fast-paced lives, we need to consume less, and we need to move towards more sustainable lifestyles.
These public sentiments will lead to increasing pressure on governments and large corporations to step up and take on more aggressive emissions targets. It will also result in a higher demand for green spaces within the city and more thoughtful city planning, with smart energy initiatives continuing to be a priority.
The pandemic has been responsible for a devastating loss of lives around the world. However, there have also been positive changes, and it’s safe to say that cities will never be quite the same again.
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