2020 was the year that everything was turned upside down. In 2021, in a vaccinated world and as a non-EU nation, we will start to see the full impact. Whether that is a ‘new normal’ and structural change or just an acceleration of existing trends remains to be seen.
In the meantime, here are five areas (there are many more) that I think will matter to many of us as this year unfolds.
1. Social interaction – although digital platforms have helped to tide us over, nothing beats seeing family, friends and, yes even colleagues, face to face. Digital interaction is certainly more convenient, efficient, and effective at light-touch engagement – from day-to-day meetings to consultation – and is here to stay as a result. However, we predict significant demand for events, festivals and networking, especially on home ground, as people are keen to escape the screen.
2. Community – despite the reduction in social interaction overall, community is being appreciated more than ever. Shopping local, supporting neighbours, visiting local pockets of green space, community gardening and local volunteering are all unlikely to go away. We’re already seeing developments designed to reflect this, ensuring they complement and appeal to the existing community, supporting the area’s overall success and long-term sustainability.
3. Leadership and stability – to ensure a strong recovery and that we derive some future benefit from the ravages of the pandemic, we need leadership. Not just in the form of a visionary Prime Minister – or stable US President – but as champions of sectors and causes, from net-zero to social value. We anticipate an increase in pressure for ‘responsible business’ and genuine commitments to equal opportunities, carbon reduction and community benefits.
4. Honesty and trust – uncertainty and lack of information has bred scepticism and now, honesty and community trust are required to ensure harmony. We predict more open-book viability assessments, more informed decision making based on the use of research and data as an evidence base and hopefully, more genuine engagement that leads to better outcomes.
5. New ideas – if there has ever been a time for fresh thinking and a shake up of the status quo, it’s now. A new political party? A new working week? A new way of living? A new relationship with our environment? New business models? New housing models? Cleaner energy and air? Economic hubs outside the South East? The list goes on.
2021 has much to offer despite the ongoing uncertainty. Let’s hope we see green shoots start to emerge on some of the above well before the race to get the country vaccinated is complete.
Catherine Grindley is an associate director at Camargue