The lessons learned from COVID-19 are continuing to shape New Zealanders’ way of life as we head into 2022, according to new research by Westpac NZ.
A survey of more than 1,300 Westpac customers found Kiwis’ financial priorities had changed with the pandemic. 29% say they’re paying more attention to where their money goes as a result of the pandemic, including 40% of those aged 25-34.
Westpac NZ Head of Operations and Contact Centre, Jason Lock, says the challenges of the last two years have made New Zealanders re-evaluate key aspects of their lives.
“Now is a good time to take stock of your personal and financial wellbeing as we head into what’s likely to be another uncertain year,” Mr Lock says.
“We’re encouraged by survey data showing 36% of people are saving more money. 21% of people with a mortgage reported spending more on paying it off, compared to just 4% paying less. With further COVID-19 uncertainty possible this year, building up a savings or mortgage buffer is one way to ensure you’re ready for whatever the year throws at you.
“Conversely, with travel and face-to-face meetings with friends and colleagues restricted in many areas, 51% reported spending less on domestic holidays and 40% spent less on luxury items like jewellery, with just 9% spending more.”
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has also changed our outlook on life in general. More than half of those surveyed (53%) say they now consider time spent with friends and family to be more important than before. Just 2% think it’s less important.
Access to outdoor spaces and nature (45%) was also more important for many.
The survey also found new working practices are here to stay. 47% of full-or-part time workers expect to spend at least some of the time working from home this year, including 65% of Aucklanders.
53% of people have worked from home for all, some or most of the last four months, including 79% of Aucklanders. Only 20% did so before the pandemic.
Mr Lock says the most commonly-cited benefit to working from home was time saved by not commuting, while flexibility of hours and savings on daily costs were key factors.
“At the same time, face-to-face contact remains important – more than half of those surveyed who are currently employed said catching up with colleagues was a favourite aspect of office life,” Mr Lock says.
“At Westpac NZ we expect to see continued flexibility this year in our workplace as teams balance working from home and meeting up in the office. From the results of our survey it looks like that will be the way forward for lots of Kiwi workers.”
Opinion was split on the importance of time spent in the office with colleagues, with 18% saying it’s more important than before and 23% saying it’s less important.