• Alastair Blair

What’s good and what’s bad about lockdown?

Updated: May 1



We want to save money more than lives (seriously?)

We miss office banter most

We like having the freedom to concentrate

We are eating too much

A third of us think we are drinking too much (only a third!?)

This was a quick SurveyMonkey that I distributed amongst my clients and friends, the majority of whom work in recruitment, marketing or education. It is both serious and light-hearted and, perhaps more importantly, short and easy to do, so in a week I had over 120 responses. While I make no claims for the statistical robustness of this sample, the results are both amusing and, in some respects, alarming!

There were only two questions. The first asked about the good things people have experienced in Lockdown; the second about the bad things. In both cases, respondents were asked to tick between 5 and, at most, 10 items from a list, but they also were given the opportunity to add their own comments.

The top five ‘good things’ were:

1. Saving money by not commuting (68.6%)

2. Saving people’s lives by self-isolating (62.8%)

3. Freedom to concentrate (60.3%)

4. Being able to go for a decent walk every day to get fit (59.5%)

5. Saving the planet by not commuting (50.4%)

Over 20 people offered an additional comment. Here is what I think is a representative sample. If you want to see the full list, keep scrolling and you’ll find it below.

· More productive because of zero travel time. Can be doing something else during meetings (like work or knitting)

· Get to see my spouse more often - really!    

· I am never late at work

· Coffee on tap

· Live in my joggers!

· If the gyms were open, I could go at midday and early evening, and I get to see my dogs and husband all the time.

The top five ‘bad things’ were:

1. I miss the office banter (62.0%)

2. Eating too much (52.9%)

3. I can’t get out somewhere nice for lunch (51.2%)

4. Drinking too much (35.5%)

5. Spending too much time on social media (33.1%)

Over 20 people again offered an additional comment. Here is what I think is a representative sample. If you want to see the full list, keep scrolling and you’ll find it below.

· Getting direction from my boss AFTER I've finished the job because they forgot to tell me something!!!!

· Being alone

· Being in a house with two very lazy teenagers is getting on my nerves seeing as I'm still working and they do nothing!

· Miss seeing work friends    

· Missing my colleagues

· Brainstorming, idea sharing spontaneously with the people around you because they are just there

· Having to stay with your mum!

* * * * *


Commentary

Firstly, I must admit I’m staggered to see that more people were interested in saving money by not commuting than were interested in saving lives by self-isolating. I would be surprised if that were to be replicated in a bigger sample, but you never know: it may be that the predominantly young audience for this survey doesn’t feel in danger of dying from the virus and therefore takes a more pragmatic view (from their own perspective) of the crisis. This is perhaps also borne out by the (dare I say it) very Gen Z/Millennial response that ranked saving the planet above getting a lie-in! Where is people’s sense of priorities…?

It’s also perhaps a Gen Z/Millennial thing that more people were worried about eating too much rather than drinking too much (it being well-known that the younger generations don’t booze as much as us baby boomers).

It’s often suggested in the mainstream media that we’ll have to change our ways of working once this is all over, with more flexibility and working from home. That is probably true, but it’s nonetheless significant, in my view at least, that the No. 1 ‘bad’ thing about lockdown is missing the banter in an office. In addition, other ‘bad’ things that ranked highly are also connected positively with work (I can’t get out somewhere nice for lunch) or negatively with being at home (Having to hoover more often!).

In the unlikely event that any TV executive is reading this, I hope they pay attention to the finding that 20% of our respondents think the TV is rubbish. In our house, it’s 100%.

Finally, and more seriously, it is disconcerting to see (and read comments to this effect), that 6% of respondents live on their own and miss the company they get at their places of work. Some 15% of the UK adult population live on their own, but that figure obviously includes many older people who are not surveyed here. My gut feel is that this 6% may be under-representative of the workforce as a whole, but not by much. Instinctively, we assume that younger people are better able to cope on their own, but that, of course, is not necessarily the case. One thing that companies will have to be aware of as we return to work is how to deal with any employees who have been a bit too stressed by the crisis. How we help these people back to work will be very important.

* * * * *


Q 1. Choose between five and 10 of the best things about home working from the following list - you can also add one of your own but no more than ten please!


Q 1. Comments


· Get to see my spouse more often - really!    

· I am never late at work 

· Coffee on tap   

· Wife is not spending any money! I'm virtually retired.     

· I can go for a pee whenever I want! (I'm a teacher - we need good bladder control!)

· Able to listen to Planet Rock all day!     

· I can cycle a decent amount every day    

· Being able to have time in the evenings to watch movies.     

· More time to see my wife   

· It's made me buy a washing line!  

· Comfort clothing below the waste (sic). 

· Live in my joggers! 

· We are sitting down as a family to eat dinner at the same time now    

· If the gyms were open, I could go at midday and early evening, and I get to see my dogs and husband all the time.    

· Spending more time with S/O. 

· More time for exercise and more productive    

· Getting back into a fitness regime    

· More exercise time     

· Cooking from scratch each day for breakfast, lunch and dinner

· Being able to do household chores that are normally out off until the weekend    

· More productive because of zero travel time. Can be doing something else during meetings (like work or knitting)

Q 2. Choose between five and 10 of the worst things about home working from the following list - you can also add one of your own but no more than ten please!


Q.2 Comments

· Not seeing people in person only on screen

· Too much time to worry about the disintegration of my business/then finances/then lifestyle

· Missing my colleagues

· Brainstorming, idea sharing spontaneously with the people around you because they are just there

· Having to stay with your mum!

· I miss travel

· I can't do my job properly (but I'm trying my best!) + I miss going for a coffee with friends and seeing my family

· Getting direction from my boss AFTER I've finished the job because they forgot to tell me something!!!!

· My management style is not from a screen or via chat apps.

· Being alone

· Being in a house with two very lazy teenagers is getting on my nerves seeing as I'm still working and they do nothing!

· My partner is incredibly loud on the phone and is (sic) like to kill him 😀

· Miss seeing work friends    

· No proper work-from-home space in the house. Not cut-off time when finishing work (working longer hours)

· Caffe Nero!    

· I miss the company and team interaction

· No takeaway coffee or croissants! 

· I miss work

· As much as technology such as Zoom etc is a good substitute, I miss not being able to meet people physically face to face

· Having too much time thinking about what it would be like to have invented Zoom

· Riding the motorbike each day

· Not being able to meet clients to drive new business 

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