If COVID-19 taught us anything, it was how to stay on our toes, ready for anything. Not to mention how to handwash correctly and wear a mask without fogging your glasses! Also, the importance of social connections, how vital green open space is to our wellbeing, and the value of our regions, local supply chains and agriculture.
There’s no doubt it forced organisations and businesses to speed up decision-making that led to implementing working from home, increased flexibility, rapidly technological adoption and digital transformation. That over-used term “pivot” became the buzzword of the moment.
Although this emergency caused a swift rethink of most aspects of our lives, my sense is that once the adrenalin of initial danger passes, long-lasting change will be harder to preserve.
Edmiston Jones’ co-design workshops with community groups, small businesses and educational facilities.
In Australia, with a relatively low prevalence of the disease, the risk is that we drift back to our bureaucratic tendencies and relax into “the new normal” – a media-friendly phrase that suggests a missed opportunity to re-make our society more than just “normal” – but extraordinary.
The expression “social capital” was used by Robert Putnam in his book “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” (2000) and describes communities’ connections and shared values. These allow individuals to trust others in the society and so work together successfully, to the benefit of all.
COVID-19 forced us to prototype how our society might work as a distributed system, to the economic and social benefit of both individuals and organisations. Now is the time to reimagine our future, to re-assess how we want to live and work, to focus on what’s important. Economic vitality goes without saying however it is the wellbeing of individuals and communities which strengthens the social capital that binds our society together.
Featured image by @bamagal