James O'Brien caller stuck in flat "incredibly anxious" about working from home again

27 October 2020, 11:53 | Updated: 27 October 2020, 12:12

By Fiona Jones

This caller told James O'Brien she is losing sleep at the prospect of having to work from home again as she lives in a studio flat alone and spent the first lockdown confined to four walls.

Working from home is damaging Britain’s creative potential and could harm both personal wellbeing and the economy if it continues long after the pandemic has diminished, the Bank of England’s chief economist has said.

Caller Rachel from Crouch End told James she is "incredibly anxious" about the prospect of having to work from home again if another national lockdown occurs during the winter.

Rachel said she had a "really rubbish" first lockdown as she lives on her own in north London in a studio flat without a garden - so she was confined "literally all in one room."

She told James that she'd called in to LBC because in the discussion around working from home, the wellbeing of those living alone without garden space were largely ignored - although she was glad other people have enjoyed it.

"I have the extra that my partner is a frontline worker who lives in Leicester so even when we were just about to be able to see each other again, he got locked down again," she said, "I was terrified of what was happening to him and really my mental health took a massive hit during it."

She acknowledged that she is lucky to have a job and roof over her head and now she is allowed to go in a few days a week - but she is "constantly filled with this anxiety of what's going to happen again."

James reiterated an earlier point he'd made that for every hundred people he puts the question to, there are one hundred different answers.

"If it's a public health based decision to require you working from home, what is the alternative, Jennifer?" James asked.

"The health is the most important thing, if it comes down to it and they tell me lock your door, stay at home, then that's absolutely fine...but there needs to be more of a plan so I at least know what the plan is," Jennifer said, explaining she is only told at the start of each week if she is able to go into the office.

James identified that the not knowing is "so draining" and Jennifer said it was causing her to lose sleep.

A second lockdown may not be as bad as the first, James said, as measures such as daily exercise and going to the shops in a mask will be included.

However, as it nears winter, the cost of keeping the house warm 24 hours a day is something else to consider, he acknowledged.