The lockdown has accelerated a change that was already under way in how and where we work. These changes will require new thinking about planning and our personal lives. Are we ready for these changes?
Much of the city centre is now in your living room. Here you can shop, meet friends, watch a movie, order a meal, do office work, or get educated. From your kitchen table you can avail of government services that range from ordering a passport, looking up a planning file to getting health services.
Only 10 years ago, each of these activities required a trip to town. These changes have been accelerating during this time, particularly because of the proliferation of the smartphone. At 90pc, Ireland has one of Europe's highest smartphone penetration rates, compared to the UK's 85pc and a European average of 88pc.
These changes are much more pronounced among younger people - who daily browse and shop for consumer goods, order meal deliveries, socialise, share interests and enjoy movies - all online. The Covid-19 crisis has accelerated this trend - both by widening the scope and acceptance of these many types of activities and also by extending them into older generations, who may only recently have worked, shopped or socialised online for the first time.
As these changes happen, we need to think about the home that is at the heart of it all. We need to start to see it as more than bricks and mortar, as an address or as a mortgage. We need to start to see the home as a national economic asset that can play an increasing important role in future prosperity - if we accept and rapidly adapt to these new realities.
The ''never-let-a-crisis-go-to waste'' brigade of opportunists will soon start to fill the media with predictions about how housing ''will have to'' change - bigger apartments, larger balconies, compulsory gardens and other ''must-haves''. The reality is that all these things already exist - what will change will be consumer preferences about how much and where these features are needed and how much the market is willing to pay for them.
These superficial changes are not important because preferences will change again slowly, as people revert to other priorities. There are deeper issues which will neither change, nor recede - they will only grow, and we must be prepared for them.
The first change will need to be in the way that we, as a nation, think about and value our homes as economic assets. In Ireland we have about two million homes [apartments and houses; public and private; owned and rented].
These each have an average value of around €300,000 which means that we have a national asset worth €600bn. To this staggering figure we add the value of the supporting public infrastructure - roads, schools, parks, and hospitals, as well as the value of the private investments in retail, leisure and services that support home living. This is a huge existing investment that needs to be capitalised on.
Economists refer to these investments as ''sunk costs'' which means that any extra income derived from these existing investments is 100pc profit. Working from home is an additional use of these existing investments. Even better, home use produces additional dividends by slowing public investment requirements in energy, transport, and communications.
This happens because our separation of the locations of work and living produces large duplication of energy demand, commuter congestion, time losses and space requirements.
Any intensification of uses in the home obviously also leads to significant environmental advantages in terms of less energy use, less transport pollution and less loss of land and habitats for new development. It may even give rise to better social lives with less family fragmentation and more community participation and cohesion.
While there are many potential advantages to homeworking, the disadvantages should not be forgotten. The last five weeks have provided the entire population with a chance to experience the down-sides of home working - for those lucky enough to still have work.
Two centuries of studies have shown that productivity is improved and sustained by specialisation. While there is much that is commendable about work/life balance, the balance of advantage lies with being able to apply attention to a narrow range of related tasks.
Many have now grown weary of the mid-meeting sight, a once-charming but now disruptive background, of a needy two-year-old, an untamed family pet or a careless housemate. There should be no guilt about finding it difficult to concentrate on work at home - the huge amounts of scientific ergonomic studies that try to create optimum working conditions are a good indication of the difficulty of sustaining concentration under normal working conditions.
The separation of working and living conditions also makes important and frequently under-appreciated contributions to reducing work-related stress. Indeed, many are now realising the importance of keeping clear separation between work and home spaces - so that the sullen laptop screen is not a constant source of anxiety about incomplete or unpleasant work.
On a happier note, it is also important and stimulating to experience the diversity of moving to a different place to work. Diversity of social and physical settings provides stimulation and interest.
On a purely economic level, the availability of a range of different employment opportunities all within a reasonable travel distance facilitates labour force mobility and operations of economic scale - which are key characteristics of a competitive jobs market.
Finally, there are the more abstract and yet utterly necessary urban characteristics of anonymity, chance, complexity and opportunity.
These are the very essence of the attraction of ''downtown'' - as immortalised by Petula Clark's song of the same name that sums up the pure sexiness of city life that makes life worth living.
Awkward, expensive, congested and challenging as cities may be - we need them. The word ''civilization'' itself originates in ''civis'', that ancient word for a city.
Soon the media will be full of populists arguing this way and that for a new world after Covid-19. The reality may be less dramatic - but much richer. We may better appreciate both ends of our work-life see-saw.
There is no denying that the stress of this period will make everyone more aware of what they do and don't have. This will make us more aware of what really matters and why.
It should help us to appreciate what we need to keep. So, in a locked-down nation the idea of universally available broadband is suddenly a ''no-brainer'' - a necessity, not a luxury. Our parks and walks have never seemed so precious - those who provide them have never seemed wiser. Budgets for parks should not be an issue again.
Our planning system will need to widen exemptions - to make it easier to use, convert and extend our homes as places for economic activity.
As we extend and renew our public open spaces - as necessities, not as luxuries - we will also need to re- imagine our high streets as social spaces where we can do more socialising and less shopping. In all of that, we will better understand the importance of making sure that all of these facilities - shops, parks, transport, schools - will all need to be available to us within a five-minute walk.
Time to start building the homeplace.