Read on the street 30 May 2020
It’s difficult to imagine that humankind has ever been on a steeper learning curve. This week’s selection of articles brings to light how much is changing around us, from the office as we know it, to creative solutions for socialising. We no longer know what “normal” is and I’m not sure we should be striving for whatever we thought it was.
It seems we’re actually doing a pretty good job of embracing this extraordinary change to how we live our lives. In the words of C. S. Lewis, “there are far better things ahead than any we leave behind."
Have a good weekend.
Pepys shows us that life is dull without risk
A man of audacity, impudence and vast intelligence, Samuel Pepys just happened to be around to document the great tragedies of 17th-century Britain. But the great plague, the great fire, and a great feat of human endurance – in the form of some horrific, conscious, painkiller-less bladder-stone surgery – all did little to deter him of the deliciousness of life and, crucially, risk. The totally self-aware Pepys relished in the horrors around him and in the intensity of danger. Perhaps we might all benefit from living a bit closer to the edge.
Read in The Times.
What was the point in offices anyway?
There has been plenty written about offices, but this piece stands out for its call-back to the origins of the office space and its winding journey through its history. It goes on to considering the future of work, against the background of the accelerated changes being driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Read in 1843 Magazine.
An architect on how the pandemic could change our homes forever
The experience of lockdown will, no doubt, have a lasting effect on us all. Many of us will be rethinking the kind of life we want to live post-pandemic, along with the role our homes could play in this. Forget about bringing a plant and perhaps a picture frame into the office and think more creatively about how you could design your home to offer a comfortable space for working and family.
Read in The Conversation.
Social interactions gone plastic
As societies across the world reopen, plastic has proved it has a role to play. From plastic cloths enabling people to hug in New York, to plexiglass panels protecting sunbeds in Santorini, barriers are going up left, right, and centre, which enable more social interaction to happen. Not the most environmentally friendly phenomenon, but nonetheless, here are some great photos from our new plastic-separated world.
Have a look on The Atlantic.
Creative solutions to social distancing
Plastic is one solution to ensure social distancing, but there are others. From designated markers on tramway platforms to stuffed pandas placed on chairs in a restaurant, the world is getting creative. I’m not sure how I feel about the cardboard cut-outs of customers in the restaurant in Australia, but I take my hat off to them for their inventiveness.
Have a look on BBC.
Why remote work is so hard – and how it can be fixed
Cal Newport’s piece in The New Yorker offers yet another fascinating look at the challenges faced by knowledge workers as they navigate the confusing world of remote work. His focus is not only on technological obstacles, but also on how managers may stand in the way of productivity. Although some innovation at an individual level might be useful, organisational-level, hands-on initiatives are urgently needed for a transition into more agile, structured systems. This involuntary retreat to “telework” could perhaps be an opportunity for managers to finally define the details of how we work and solve the long-standing productivity crisis in knowledge work.
Read in The New Yorker.
“I defy anybody to watch that carnage and not intervene”
You may not know Gavin Thurston’s name, but you’ll certainly have been impressed by his work, which includes A Life on Our Planet, Blue Planet II, Planet Earth II and Frozen Planet. The BBC wildlife veteran describes why the quieter, understated moments have been more powerful than grand melodramatic clashes.
Read in The Telegraph.
Written by Laura Hamilton, Managing Partner