Pandemics and real change

Sunday columnist Peter Leith is 90 and a committed participant in all facets of life. He has his say on what we are learning from COVID-19 – and whether we will retain that knowledge in the long term.


The world has experienced a number of life-changing pandemics. But not many have been so sudden, so widespread and so deadly as COVID-19. What are we learning from this deadly virus?

The coronavirus and the need for social isolation to contain its spread have given an enormous boost to electronic communication. To the hand-held miracle of the smartphone has been added the inter-group and international communication capacity of the computer and apps such as Zoom and Google Hangouts.

We have started to discover how far ‘working from home’, which now has its own acronym wfh, can be stretched. We have discovered how many hours it takes to fill office towers in CBDs, given self-distancing rules on public transport. Organisations of all kinds in all countries are discovering that some of their workforce can work from home while others can work in and from multiple other locations. 

What will we do with what we are learning?

Hopefully, we will learn that the specialised ‘office’ or ‘residential’ towers can, and should, become ‘multi-purpose towers’ incorporating entertainment and retail venues in their lower levels, offices in the middle floors and residential accommodation up to their solar-topped heliport-equipped roofs.

Will we learn these lessons?

Do you believe we will maintain the positive changes made necessary by COVID? Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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Written by Peter Leith


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