ZB

Kerre McIvor: Have we become institutionalised by Covid?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 24 Feb 2022, 1:41pm
(Photo / 123rf)
(Photo / 123rf)

Kerre McIvor: Have we become institutionalised by Covid?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 24 Feb 2022, 1:41pm

I don't know about you, but just about everyone who can work from home is working from home right now at this company, NZME.  It's been pretty much that way since the first lockdown two years ago.  

Apart from brief sort of bursts of normality and then it's back to being like the parrot on the Marie Celeste, wondering where everybody is gone.  For some people who joined the company over the past 24 months, they've only ever known Zoom meetings and using their bedroom as an office. Which means for those working at home that when they need a coffee, they put the jug on. When they break for lunch, it's last night's leftovers or a quick sandwich, or if it's the day before the supermarket shop, quick run up to the Hot Buns bakery on the corner for a special treat.   

That has had a huge impact on Central City and the many, many businesses the central city used to support. 

It's prompted a plea from the chief of New Zealand's largest commercial landlord for businesses to please, please let their staff back into the city.  Scott Pritchard, Chief Executive of Precinct Properties, says in Commercial Bay, for example, which is a gorgeous new shopping area in downtown Auckland, there might be at any time pre pandemic 8000 people populating the precinct at the moment. It's around three 3000 currently.  5000 people down. Scott Pritchard says the consequences of empty offices are dire.  

The shops, the restaurants, the bars, the galleries cannot be mothballed for months on end until people feel safe again - and I really understand what he's saying.  Some people have to work at home, for others who have the choice they prefer to be at home. They don't miss the commute. They don't miss the expense of parking. They don't miss the office politics. They like working from home.  

And others who work for multinational companies must take their orders from their foreign masters. These CEOs have seen the havoc wreaked by the pandemic in Europe, the States and Australia and want to avoid that here, so their employees aren't given a choice. They must stay home. 

So when Scott Pritchard says come back, it's not as simple as Oh, OK.  And while I love the inner city and the vibrancy of so many people in a confined space having a great time, is it everybody's idea of a good time? Have people's idea of what a good time is changed since the start of the pandemic?