Covid-19 has forced us to think differently. So let’s take the opportunity to build back better.

Councillor Anthony Flynn represents the Ormiston DEA for the Green Party in Belfast City Council

Dolly Parton’s Working Nine to Five is without question the anthem of the office worker. The sentiment is familiar to many of us and I might even have sang along to Dolly’s classic at Friday evening work drinks at some point.

Covid-19 has put an abrupt end to office life and we’ve been thrust into working from home and in different ways. There’s been little or no preparation for this shift and the lack of childcare has been difficult for many parents.

I work as a software developer and working from home had been an easy transition for me. I have the systems I need to do my job and the only distraction through my day is to entertain the dog Red!

I get that I’m in a fortunate position. Working from home with kids must be challenging and I appreciate that I can stay home and stay safe.

But beyond this pandemic why would we rush back to doing business as we did before?

The old ways weren’t working – they were making us sick, leading to climate breakdown and now we know, made us susceptible to pandemic.

Covid-19 has forced us to think differently. So let’s take the opportunity to build back better.

To make optional working from home the norm and give workers more choice over how their lives are organised.

To get rid of the rigid 9-5 Monday to Friday and end the soul destroying noxious fume ridden work commute.

To introduce more green spaces into our city centres rather than build concrete office block after office block.

Covid-19 has robbed us of so much but it has also provided an opportunity to rebuild a Green Economy. To make the just transition towards a low carbon economy which protects workers rights.

A Green Economy which maintains productivity but with a greater emphasis on the health and well being of workers.

The rat race has been run and good riddance!