Covid-19 has virtually affected the way we live daily

The implications of the pandemic on daily life has presented an excellent opportunity for municipalities to improve access and amenities in their townships, the writer says.
The implications of the pandemic on daily life has presented an excellent opportunity for municipalities to improve access and amenities in their townships, the writer says.
Image: 123RF/Sam74100

The novel coronavirus has in no small measure affected virtually all parts of our daily lives. Ageless routine habits are now questioned and normal lives are no longer so.

Who could have imagined that the face mask will reduce the market for lipsticks? Zoom and Microsoft teams are hosting more than traditional meetings, they now host events such as weddings and baby showers.

What we thought were important now suddenly ceased being so. It has been four months since I printed a page of anything, yet life and work have continued as much as they could. We are all discovering more hidden traits and tricks on our electronic devices.

Innate talents are being brought to the fore, some businesses which had been thriving on human interactions are now struggling. Tourism is taking a detour; restaurant staff are resting and hotels are seriously seeing hot hells.

Ultimately, besides the health implications of the deadly virus, I think that the next main shift is going to be in the way we interact with space as humans. On the business front, offices are reducing their space requirement, uptake of office spaces saw its lowest in the month of May 2020. Businesses already in termed leases are renegotiating their leases, either in terms of deferrals or rent reduction.

There is no need for the fancy 1,500sq/m office spaces anymore, if all that you need are 15 essential staffs coming in on a rotational basis. It is imperative to reduce spatial consumption as employees are working from home.

Prior to now, previously redundant spaces in malls were cleverly converted to kids' play areas, excess car park spaces became five-a-side football pitches and exhibition centres, such was the way we interacted with space.

But since many businesses are directly linked to the human lifestyle; once life changes, businesses have to adapt.

Design of spaces also needs attention. Typically, I don't like hyper grocery stores because I think the isles are narrower because of the need to pack in more stock. But since the advice on social distancing is that we stay at least 1.5m apart, I don't know how that can be achieved in some of the huge stores.

In terms of the life of an office-based worker, what this shift implies is that workers do not have the extra pressures of living so close to work. To that end, the urban fringes like Soweto, Orange Farm and Olifantsfontein etc have the huge potential of thriving on the real estate front, under these circumstances.

If all I have to do is show up at the Sandton office only once a week, why then do I have to pay exorbitantly to live in Bryanston or Rosebank?

Why not live as far as reasonably possible? Data and access to good internet connection seems to be as important as location now. This presents an excellent opportunity for municipalities to improve access and amenities in their townships. There is an opportunity for residential real estate uptake in these areas. As long as there is a good connection and decent accommodation, I see a move back to the roots.

Until we find either a cure or vaccine to this deadly virus, I think there is going to be a drop in the way we use spaces, less is the new more. Businesses like storage spaces are going to enjoy good patronage.

I think many people are realising that they can do better in less spaces, so down-scaling is one reasonable option. Due to the uncertainty of this period, it is expected that people and businesses will be moving their excess furniture and equipment into storage units for safe keeping.

*Dr Ijasan is a senior lecturer at the school of construction economics and management at Wits University

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