The Upside Of Down: Searching For Silver Linings In The Covid Cloud
Published: January 27, 2021
First off, the true and necessary facts: The Covid-19 pandemic has been a once-in-a-generation level crisis, and the loss of health and life is a tragedy. It is, however, human nature to seek the good in the bad. Yes, according to both neuroscience and social science, humans are fundamentally optimistic.
There was a great Time magazine special edition on this back in 2011 – available here – that encapsulates this nicely, reading: “To make progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities — better ones — and we need to believe that we can achieve them. Such faith helps motivate us to pursue our goals.”
The article continues: “Even if that better future is often an illusion, optimism has clear benefits in the present. Hope keeps our minds at ease, lowers stress and improves physical health.”
In the spirit of such hope, here are five positive developments to come out of the Covid calamity.
Not everyone loved their chance to stay home and Zoom into meetings, and many essential workers have barely seen home in recent months, but the fact remains that the pandemic upended established patterns of where and how we work. A bright future of tele-commuting has been imagined for years, but uptake and acceptance were low. Even if you’re looking forward to heading back to headquarters, for many there will be a new needs-based and multipurpose lens that workplaces are viewed through. Furthermore, workspaces designers and developers have embraced the principles of creating healthier offices – to everyone’s benefit.
You don’t have to paint something or take up knitting to survive a lockdown or shelter-at-home order, but millions of people around the world did. They rediscovered or uncovered passions and aptitudes. They learnt new skills. Hobbies and creative pursuits went mainstream, and people remembered the simple pleasure of making things by hand or from scratch.
Recognizing our essential workers
The importance and recognition of the contribution of nurses, teachers, and the like has probably never been higher. These dedicated and hardworking professionals – who risk their own health to care for us, to educate the next generation – have been underestimated and underappreciated for too long. Long may this newfound appreciation last, even after this crisis is resolved.
Real solutions for real problems
Innovation for its own sake can often fall flat; just look at Japanese manufacturer Masunaga’s “wink glasses”. Okay, if you often forget to blink, then you might be the target market for that 2008 gadget, but meaningful innovation is usually spurred by need. And in 2020 and going forward, no doubt, because of the many needs that Covid-19 introduced, there has been some remarkable innovations: 3D printers repurposed to make ventilator parts; drones used to sanitise workspaces or remotely surveying equipment and sites; last mile delivery solutions; AI in healthcare; distribution and logistics tech for ecommerce; the list goes on.
Heart, humanity and health
Finally (for now), there has been a significant increase in focus on matters of psychological and mental wellbeing – a much needed development for our stressed and stretched modern lives. When the pandemic subsides, we hope this remains.