Over three-quarters of Britons re-evaluate their lives during Covid | Coronavirus


For 28-year-old Londoner Dan Mountford, baking had always been a hobby.

But a year ago, at the height of the Covid pandemic, he quit his job as a science teacher to pursue this passion.

“I wanted to do something that I am really passionate about and since I began working as a baker I take enormous satisfaction in coming to work every day, knowing I’ll be doing something I am genuinely interested in,” he said.

Mountford is one of the more than three-quarters of people in the UK who say the coronavirus pandemic has made them re-evaluate the most important aspects of their lives.

More than a third of the 2,000 people surveyed for the thinktank Global Future said they had thought about changing jobs, while a separate third had looked at moving house. One in 10 people said they had looked at moving abroad and just under one in 10 had considered breaking up with their partner or starting a new relationship.

Mountford said the change was about doing something he really enjoyed.

“There’s zero bureaucracy, I don’t have to answer any emails,” he said. “There’s none of that kind of stuff that I was frustrated about with teaching.

“I was fed up with the pressure put on teachers and the bureaucratic elements of the job, and since I’ve left, I’ve seen this pattern still affecting people in the profession.”

His decision came at a cost, though. He now gets up very early in the morning, works weekends and unsociable hours and took a considerable pay cut.

“Some people were shocked that I decided to take such a large cut in salary, but others understand the importance of me doing something I love and support the decision,” he said.

Though lots of people will be dreaming about a drastic move, unlike Mountford, the poll found 80% of people had done little or nothing to achieve change, partly as a result of social and economic obstacles.

Two in five of those surveyed claimed money concerns were preventing them making changes and 31% cited a lack of opportunity. Young people aged 18 to 25 were most likely to be upset if they could not make changes in their life after lockdown.

Despite this, 40% of people said they would miss at least one element of lockdown life.

Gurnek Bains, a cultural psychologist, founder of Global Future and author of the report How Covid Changed Our Minds, said the pandemic had been a wake-up call for many people and he urged the government and employers to put in place structures to help people make changes to their daily lives

“The pandemic forced us to confront the big questions about what we do, where we live and who we love,” said Bains.

“The problem is that the British people have changed, but Britain has not. Structural barriers continue to restrain our freedom to act on our dreams.

“There is a risk of a dangerous rift between people’s desires and realities. As many people remain immobilised by socioeconomic barriers, we could face a dangerous tidal wave of dissatisfaction just as lockdown lifts.

“We particularly need to support young people whose lives have been most acutely affected by the pandemic, and who are boldly asking these existential questions.”

Separate polling from Aviva found almost half of employees had become less career-focused as a result of the pandemic, up from a third in August 2020.

The insurer’s research over 18 months found that 44% of people said they were unable to switch off from work “as many employers are seen to encourage an always-on, ever-present culture”.

More than a third felt their work-life balance had improved during the pandemic, yet one in five had been negatively affected.

The research also exposes the gender divisions behind many people’s pandemic experience, as women are more concerned about burnout and less likely to feel that hard work entitles them to take “me” time back during office hours.



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