Remote Control

Working from home has come as a surprise to many as they adapt to new ways to work. Those whose daily commute was a way of life, have had to develop a whole new routine working remotely. A challenge, certainly, but humans are nothing if not adaptable.

We are fortunate that in 2020, commerce can continue to function through technology. Controlling our businesses remotely, creating virtual offices with Slack and Teams, and shifting physical meetings to Google meets, Zoom and Skype. Facetiming, instead of face to face. For me this has been the norm for the past few years. Working with a distributed Proptech company, using cloud based technology, being productive in the various channels of a virtual office. My trips to our physical office have been infrequent, time consuming and not really all that cost effective. I am far more productive working from home.

While I am in no way diminishing the sheer weight of grief that Covid19 has brought, the lockdown itself has had some intriguing and positive outcomes. For my company, we have seen increased interest in our property data analytics offerings as we are, and always have been, a remote facility. In e-meetings I have noticed a subtle shift of focus, as clients and prospects will often end with a remark about homeschooling, gardening, and the lack thereof, or to discuss how we are exercising. It feels like we are looking at our lives and the lives of those with whom we communicate in a better and more empathetic manner. Recent emails frequently close with the heartfelt words, “stay safe”.

A clear benefit of the lockdown has been the reduction in global emissions. In recent years worry about climate change has skyrocketed, as we fear reaching a point of no return. A BBC article last month by Anna Khoo of the BBC Shared Data Unit ( found that some cities have seen a fall in nitrogen dioxide levels by as much as 60%. Carbon dioxide levels are also heading towards a 5.5% reduction. This may not seem much, but it is in the region of 2,000m tonnes of CO2, and you have to remember that we are using more or less the same amount of energy to heat and illuminate our homes now as we would have used going to work in an office. According to Carbon Brief ( 2020 could potentially see a larger reduction in CO2 than during any previous economic crisis or period of war.
Typing here in the May sunshine, I have noticed that there is a greater variety of birds in my garden. There are no white engine trails pinstriping the blue of the spring sky. No traffic sounds. My laptop fan hums along in unlikely harmony with a curious bee. I speak to many people each day, some of whom are stuck in high rise apartments without access to outside space, but they too see the positive side to this change. Like many others, this makes me think about the outcome of the lockdown. Having adapted to working from home, do we really need to travel to work? There is something to be said for the social side of office life, but I have e-meetings, Slack and my phone at hand even for that.

Many years ago, I was sent on a time efficiency course by an overzealous boss. I was already working a 6 day week, 8am to 6pm, with additional meetings held some evenings. The course was a revelation to me, as it worked with a pie chart of how to divide your time. 30% of that was friends and family, with separate time scheduled just for yourself. There is a whole separate article to be written about how we are brought up with the capitalist belief that even our hobbies should contribute to our careers, and therefore be monetised. This course advocated that hobbies should be a delightful reprieve. As you can imagine this did not best please said boss, but it did make me think about allocating some time just for me. Yes, I could still manage to fulfil my contracted obligations, but honest rest made me enjoy the role far more.

So my hope is that we will all come out of this with a new, hybrid way to work, splitting working from home and from the office. Benefitting from the serenity of our home office – ah, well maybe not when the offspring are being demanding! But also reducing the commute and global pollution; improving our own well being and enjoying a more rounded, fulfilling life. Taking just that bit more remote control.

Vivienne Brooks is the CCO of Houseprice.AI She has a long history as a Technical Software Support Guru, is a graphic artist and also has a strong background in Marketing.

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