I’ve been having moments of optimism recently. I know! Strange times, unprecedented, yadda yadda, but also, we are now in a period of intense and rapid change. Once we are out of the other side of this, what will we keep hold of and what will we ditch? Who knows. But I think we can all (even those who vehemently dislike change) agree that there is a real opportunity (and need) for change. I know some people will just keep doing what they did before. Some people don’t like change. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the status quo.
Partly inspired by a podcast I found that I ADORE, and a report I read on NHS comms and Covid-19, I posted on my Facebook page “I’m having 5 minutes of optimism/futures thinking. Indulge me. What (if anything) are you going to keep doing post-pandemic (that you didn’t do before)? New (ish) habits, ways of working, anything really?”
It threw up some expected responses and some surprises.
- Keeping the family video quiz
- More time offline and playing with kids
- More walking
- Shopping local, with local suppliers
But diddly squat about work and commuting. With so many people working from home and less cars on the road I had thought these would feature. Hey ho. I vaguely recall writing about stuff like this back when I wrote a local business newsletter (Owl Business News) – about how damaging the commute is and how it’s just not necessary for all. I can’t square the circle of having to work from home now, and then suddenly not – where is the choice? We’ve been forced to look at how we do pretty much everything and surely we can pivot from presenteeism.
The podcast I referred to that led to these moments of optimism and futures thinking is from comedian Jon Richardson and two futurists Ed Gillespie and Mark Stevenson. Their 12 episodes, covering a wide range of issues that include education, fashion, travel and politics blew my mind and made me feel like I’d found my tribe – huge praise indeed from a self-confessed podcast sceptic.
One of the aspects of the Futurenauts podcasts is that Jon Richardson asks the futurists what we can all do to make a difference in whatever the subject area is. What small change can we make in our individual lives to help the cause? The answers (slight spoiler) include simple things like spending time in nature. I will admit to feeling slightly smug at times listening to it and I was/am already doing most of the things they recommended (simple things like having an ethical energy supplier) but it was reassuring to hear it. It could have been a doom and gloom listen but it was anything but. It was inspirational and I reckon anyone who claims to do purpose-driven or ethical business needs to give it a listen. Brands are (rightly) being held to account on their values and purpose and some sectors play much dirtier than others. The fashion episode will be a massive eye-opener to some, and for those of us who listened; the appalling sweatshops discovered in Leicester during their local lockdown sadly came as no surprise.
The other inspiration for my optimism was a report on NHS comms – The Rapidly Changing NHS. Communication in the age of coronavirus. What I found interesting was that they talked about how surprising and welcome it was that some decisions got made much quicker (like video consultations) and how they hoped that would last. On the flip side they’d had to do far less damage limitation thus far into the pandemic, and they acknowledge that they can’t ride the crest of the clapping wave indefinitely.
For me, the beginning of the pandemic was all about nostalgia, craving old stuff, like re-watching old telly and re-reading favourite books. Then it was acceptance of the new normal (which has been anything but normal) and now I’m in the what can and should we do differently phase. We’ve had to adapt to new ways of doing things – at both scale and pace (and in some cases, seemingly without due diligence). Some of these changes will understandably get ditched as soon as practicable. Others we should really think about retaining.
- a video meeting that should have been a call
- face masks
- words like covidiot
- hotlines to cops for those ‘flouting’ the rules
- home cooking
- spending more quality time with family and offline
- table service in pubs
- less unnecessary travel and more cycling/walking infrastructure
- old fashioned ways of shopping – local suppliers
- more flexible working – presenteeism is not the same as productivity
- meetings with purpose
- for people to just slow down in general
- quicker decision making (but with full accountability and due diligence) – near the top of my
- clear comms
The importance of clear communication is my number one. People react very well to clear comms and conversely are clueless when faced with unclear comms. I’ve seen some brilliant examples of comms during this period (and some awful, obviously). Businesses have had to explain the how and the why and do it very quickly, ridiculously quickly in many cases and they’ve cracked on. Whodathunk there’d be arrows on the floor in a pub? One in one out rules for the loos? Visors on hair stylists etc. They’ve prepped their paying customers with clear ‘what to expect’ instructions and its worked. Gold star tick for clarity and speed. Let’s keep this up AND look at better ways of working.
What about you – are you a fan of the quo? What do you plan to keep and ditch?