Preparing for the great return: how much will really change?

In our weekly WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing, we look at ways to innovate out of a crisis, how technology can create empathy and the deadly cost of air pollution

With WORKTECH’s professional live conference series paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, we continue to reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors through our weekly WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing, which shares new ideas and perspectives with our global network. In our latest edition, posted on 29 April 2020, we cover a mix of topics.

This does not change everything

If you think the world will stay upside down forever, think again. According to leading innovation strategist Kevin McCullagh, a keynote speaker at WORKTECH’s Smart Buildings 2019 conference, companies planning to innovate their way out of the current crisis need to make a distinction between pre-existing trends accelerated by the pandemic and more fundamental business shifts. McCullagh talks about BC, DC and AC (Before Coronavirus, During Coronavirus and After Coronavirus), reminding us that while some things will change dramatically, others will remain unchanged. He predicts more national protectionism, permanent remote working and ‘design clean’ processes. And while big tech will be a big commercial winner, nobody will emerge unscathed from a renewed focus on inequalities at work. You can read Kevin McCullagh’s wide-ranging essay, After Coronavirus: This Does Not Change Everything, by subscribing to our Innovation Zone here.

Empathy and the smart building

The role of technology in enabling us to adapt fast to remote work patterns during the pandemic is widely recognised. But how well do we understand its potential for supporting more empathic experiences in office buildings once we return to the corporate workplace? According to Elisa Ronka of Siemens Smart Infrastructure, the office building is a ‘human warehouse’ which should offer a human-centric approach to the people who work there. Ronka draws on the disciplines of design thinking and service design to explain the Siemens philosophy – and she will be speaking on the topic of empathy and technology at WORKTECH Copenhagen, which is now rescheduled for 23 September 2020 at the Danish Architecture Centre. Watch WORKTECH’s interview with Elisa Rönkä below.

Dirty air linked to virus

If you’re enjoying better air quality due to the enforced absence of air and road traffic during the lockdown, it can be easy to forget just how polluted our cities have become. A German study has found a correlation between high levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air and a high number of deaths from Covid-19. The study combined satellite data on air pollution and air currents with confirmed deaths related to Covid-19. Its findings reveal that regions with permanently high levels of polluted air have significantly more deaths than other regions. The results were published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. You can read more here.

Kitchen Table conversation

This week we introduce a new feature – WORKTECH Kitchen Table Conversations, showcasing informal dialogues with personalities and experts from around our network. In the first of this series, WORKTECH’s resident poet Matt Harvey is in conversation with WORKTECH Academy writer and researcher Kasia Maynard. A regular performer at WORKTECH conferences, Matt Harvey is a celebrated poet who has published a number of books and appears regularly on BBC radio. Here, Matt discusses everything from his newly discovered green fingers to navigating the ‘new normal’.

The New Future of Work

Finally, check out Logitech’s webinar on Thursday 30 April featuring WORKTECH Academy director Jeremy Myerson in conversation with video collaboration experts Simon Dudley and Wayne Mason. The panel is tasked with making predictions for 2021. You can sign up to participate here.

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