Louise Zacest: 19 December 2021

While countrywide and regional lockdowns have impacted our lives and the economy, aspects of staying at home have had undeniably positive outcomes too.

The pace of life slowed and we had more time.

The World Economic Forum reports that 83% of us used the time to do ‘more enjoyable things’ and 65% said it helped them ‘spend more time outdoors.’

We got fitter and ate more healthily too, with home cooking back in vogue and takeaways off the menu.

At least for a little while.

Did you take up a hobby or reignite a passion like crochet or painting? Or did you start online aerobics, yoga or get back into jogging? For myself, I used the opportunity to take our dog on those longer walks we’d otherwise not have tackled.

Wildlife and especially sea life has also benefitted, with numbers rising due to periodic halts in commercial fishing and deforestation. Not to mention reduced carbon emissions as we stayed local.

Family bonding has also benefited, with parents I’ve spoken to recounting the special moments with their children, great times they’d previously never had enough time for.

The upshot?

After experiencing and enjoying all this extra time to dedicate to family and interests outside of work, people now want to hang on to it.

Australian psychologist Michael Inglis, co-founder of The Mind Room, points out lockdown has been profound for many. “For some people, the changes the coronavirus pandemic delivered, whether it was lockdown or working from home, gave people the chance to rediscover what’s really important and what matters to us. Something as simple as not having to spend a couple of hours commuting every day gives people more opportunity to exercise regularly or to plan, cook and eat healthier meals.”

Which leads me to wonder whether lockdowns have ultimately been good for people?

The economic and mental wellbeing hardships that so many others are still dealing with say no.

But the practical, emotional and health benefits of a slower pace and remote working does offer employees, and indeed the planet, something we may not have recognised without lockdowns.

My feeling is productivity and passion for work will come from tapping into the best of both worlds, recognising the human need to work physically alongside colleagues, while enabling flexible work-from-home practices that give employees the time and space they need.

Business will need help to recover and people will need support to overcome the ongoing challenges that COVID-19 uncertainty brings.

But time, it seems, may at last be on our side.

So let’s enjoy the special times this holiday season, and treasure the opportunity to reconnect with our whānau and friends.

Ngā mihi nui,

Louise Zacest,

Chief Executive,