Working from home and more often into nature: the positive legacy of the corona time

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NOS News
  • Annabel van Gestel

Closed cafes and gyms, always a mask in your jacket pocket and obsessively washing your hands: few people will look back with nostalgia at the time when these things were the order of the day. Yet it was not all doom and gloom during the corona crisis.

A year after the last lockdown, what is left of the habits we picked up during the corona period? A period of which this week also marked the end in a different way: the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) established on Thursday that there is no longer a pandemic.

February 25, 2022 was the day that we can – at least emotionally – call the unofficial end of the corona crisis. The one and a half meter measure and the corona admission ticket expired, so that we could finally get together with many again. The virus that had dominated our lives for two years was largely under control.

Although the corona crisis will go down in the books as a tough time for many, new habits were also created during that period that we actually liked. And they seem to be a keeper.

During the corona period, the Dutch gained a renewed appreciation for the natural beauty that the Netherlands has to offer. Stichting Natuurmonumenten saw this mainly because of the enormous increase in the number of members. In 2021, almost 120,000 new members were added, where there were ‘only’ 17,000 in 2019.

Jody Bennink, forester of Staatsbosbeheer on the Veluwe-Noord, sees indeed that the Dutch have rediscovered nature. “It is not as busy as during corona, but because many people work from home, you now also see more people on weekdays.”

The forest ranger also notices that people who previously did not or hardly did so, are more often looking for nature. “The Zwolse bos is a good example of this. I speak to people from Zwolle who have never been here and say: it is beautiful here.”

Corona hobbies

When gyms and associations closed their doors from one day to the next, the Dutch massively started looking for other ways to keep moving. Sales site saw an explosive increase in sports equipment during the entire corona period, such as inline skates. Where in January 2020 there were still 7900 searches for inline skates, in the same month in 2021 that was no less than 141,000 times.

More free time also meant: more time for new hobbies. In January 2021, Marktplaats was searched for more than 1.5 million times for puzzles, about six times as many as a year earlier. And board games, game consoles and Lego also increased in popularity.

It is striking that the same articles were not offered en masse again on the website after the lifting of the corona measures. Here and there the puzzles and racing bikes may be gathering dust again, but in general we seem to have stayed true to our corona hobbies.

Holiday in your own country

Traveling to distant places was not an option during the crisis, so we had to rely on our own country. And that went well, according to the Holiday Sentiment Monitor of the Netherlands Bureau for Tourism and Congresses (NBTC).

The number of Dutch people who went on holiday in their own country after corona last year had increased by 11 percent compared to the pre-corona year 2019. The organization expects a further increase for this year.

People have discovered that the Netherlands is incredibly beautiful.

Martin Overweg, camping site owner

Martin Overweg, owner of Natuurkampeerterrein de Klashorst in Diffelen, Overijssel, describes the corona period as a madhouse. “We suddenly also got people who are actually more into all-inclusive holidays abroad. Some had never set up a tent before, but they were very happy here.”

Bookings are pouring in for next year and, according to Overweg, a new target group has also been added. “People have discovered that the Netherlands is incredibly beautiful.”

Working from home

The advice to work from home was a constant factor during the corona crisis and many employers responded to it. Where video meetings and makeshift workplaces at the kitchen table still felt uncomfortable in the spring of 2020, working (partly) from home has now become the norm for many workers.

This is also apparent from recent research by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management: in October 2022, an average of 6.4 hours per week was worked from home, almost double compared to the same month in 2019. In the long term, workers expect an average of 6.8 hours per week. working from home for a week.

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