About slow mobility and commuting after COVID

We all get used to move less during this pandemic. With no chances to travel abroad, we visited places within our own countries (when possible) to try to get some fresher air and perspective. Now, with the vaccination campaign slowly getting the target and thus a pale possibility to come back to work, travel and meet more people than the bubble, some other thoughts approach as well. Will we have the same willingness to go to work as frequently as we did before? To commute every day? To travel in the same way?

Today I went to the office to shoot a video for the project I’m currently working for and I took the bike ” to test” the commuting in a slower form compared to when I commuted by bus (not really keen in being in a full bus yet). And also to see how much time I would spend in doing the same journey every day with the kids and their school run.

Well, I ride my amazing rented longtail up and down the hilly Schaerbeek, came to the office, shooted the video, ride back home and….I was drained, like I run a marathon just to stay a couple of hours at the office and doing things that normally would have took me less than 1/4 of my normal energy effort.

I talked with my colleagues about this and they felt the same starting to question our capacity to come back to a normal pace when get used to work from home every day. I know very well that teleworking has its downs and honestly, even though I’ve always been a fan, I must admit that I need to come back to the office for 1 or 2 days a week to be able to touch base with the social life of being in the office.

I am wondering though if the employers will actually understand that we are profoundly changed since the beginning of this pandemic and that it might be the case that not all the workers will be able or willing to come back to the normal pace. Mostly because it was probably not so normal.

Not taking into account the needs we all have, not just as parents but as individuals who maybe see (or want to see) their life defined not just by the job they are doing, it’s not a wise choice. Honestly, I don’t see a lot of discussion going into that direction lately and instead a flowing of “I wish we could be back soon” and ” I hope we will be back to normal next fall” is really frightening me a lot. Do we really want to lose the priceless opportunity to reshape our way of working?

Do we really want to come back to the reckless life we had before when our jobs were eating our daily time without any possibility to escape a part from holiday time? If we were so much eagerly waiting for our breaks maybe means we weren’t so happy with how the things were going. So much unhappy that we needed a break from the unbreathable everyday every now and then. Maybe we just got used to it because, you know, you can’t really complain, everybody has the same burden so it’s not really a burden anymore. Like it was a collective curse.

I just want to say that’s it’s not. It’s not a curse and we can actually change it if only we do want. If it is a cry from the deep inside we can’t really silence it and we shouldn’t. Now it’s the time to take a stance and reshape our future, starting with the way in which we go to work: taking the time to see the things that surround us and not just running because we are late (late for what? or who?). Start to count our working hours not in terms of what we earn out of them but in terms of quality delivered. We can actually deliver much more quality in 6 hours schedule than in a 8 or 9 ones. It has been proven by thousand of researches. You can just type the word 4 days work week on Google to have an idea of what I am saying.

Living our lives and not live to work because we need to afford stuff that maybe, at the end, we do not even appreciate so much. Always more people start to leave everything to go and live a life off-grid either it is in a remote countryside or in a full comfort van, earning a life through freelancing thanks to the internet and owning their time.

Maybe we do not need to take those net decisions but we could indeed start a slow and gentle revolution from here, from the post-pandemic world, from our desks. But we need to be all together asking the same thing, otherwise they won’t listen.

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