There is unlikely to be a swift bounce back in the complex world of Covid management. Chris Brock from Critical Economics explains why.

Illustration of ‘work practices and social change’ as in the recent Bulletin

While there are many predictions as to the length of time before a ‘new normality’ prevails, based on previous experience of the 2008 Financial Crisis, it could be as long as five years before normality returns. It is likely that the ‘ripple effect’ of the Covid Crisis will take a number of years to dissipate. Mini ‘lockdowns’ could well occur, government debt will influence future levels of public services, and further government business support will be necessary in 2021 and 2022.

What is certain is that this Crisis is unlikely to be a one-off event. It was only twelve years ago that the Financial Crisis occurred, the impact of which had a considerable influence during the subsequent period on the plans and financial projections of the Crown Dependencies and other similar jurisdictions.

While the islands have been very resilient and adaptable in a wide range of challenges, a very volatile geopolitical environment exists throughout the world at the present time. This volatility manifests itself in areas such as the speed of vaccination throughout the world, the post Trump era and policies adopted in the United States, international trade relations, and the practical implications of Brexit. It is reassuring, however, that climate change is now back on the US agenda as this is probably one of the most important issues impacting on islands over the next ten years.

Changing work practices and social demands will be apparent in the ‘new normal’ post Covid environment as follows:

This ‘new’ environment will undoubtedly have a bearing on the current planning policies of islands. These policies have evolved over a number of decades and have had to address many competing demands on what is a very limited land area. The adoption of innovative planning solutions will become the order of the day.

With the exponential growth of online retailing, a further major contraction of the local retail sector particularly in town centres is inevitable. The challenge is what can replace the vacant premises and bring vibrancy back into these centres without creating clusters of antisocial activity.

The demand for private dwellings which have private outdoor areas will increase. This has not been the recent trend for new building projects. There will be a need to take account of the provision of dedicated home office facilities in design briefs. This could see the demise of cramped single bedroom units of accommodation.

Due to the exponential growth and success of home working, the permanent decline of the traditional office is already occurring and early consideration of alternative uses of some large office complexes will be necessary. This may be very difficult to resolve as many such complexes are so specialised that it is hard to envisage how they can be used for other activities without major reconstruction.

Demand for long term parking for office- based personnel could reduce as could the number of catering establishments servicing the needs of office personnel during the day.

One thing is clear. The world as we knew it just a couple of years ago will be different in the ‘Twenties’.

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