The onset of Covid-19 has turned the world on its head. In the wake of its most severe impacts, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) will need to adapt to a world different to the one we knew. In a survey to staff, Khulisa speculated on what this world might look like. We captured the key themes in our two-part blog series.
The impact of Covid-19 on life as we knew it a mere four months ago, will be profound. The repercussions of global crises like pandemics, world wars, and natural disasters normally last must longer than the events itself, bringing about significant change in all aspects of human life.
Although, historically, it took several years to readjust after unexpected catastrophes like the Spanish flu and the two world wars, these changes were mostly positive, and in fact, encouraged innovation, hastened the use of new technology, and generally improved the working environment.
Covid-19 will be no different, and already we are seeing significant changes in the workplace, social life and policy environment.
Imagining the post-COVID workplace
Although remote work has been with us for some time, not all institutions have embraced the benefits of its employees “working from home”. The coronavirus has forced many to relinquish the old brick-and-mortar and open office philosophy. It has forced managers and workers to rapidly adapt to a digital world. Working remotely will become the new norm after Covid-19. Moreover, this sudden adjustment has resulted in unexpected behavioural changes.
For example, working away from the office has necessitated the use of digital tools and new technology, which in turn, forced employees to acquire new skills. The need for business travel will diminish in the future as more companies meet virtually, and webinars become the way to inform and educate.
Inadvertently, increased connectivity leads to a drop in the cost of data, as governments accept that the internet is a human right, not a privilege.
But the big question is how measures like social distancing, workplace hygiene, and health and safety regulations will affect face-to-face office interaction in the future? Will human interaction and business relationships, nurtured over many years, still be valued as it was before?
We do not know the answers to all the questions, but we know that our new way of working is mostly likely here to stay. Khulisa staff has easily adjusted to online project meetings using Zoom and has pushed the envelope with our creative virtual Design Evaluation Competition for Young & Emerging Evaluators that took place during #gLOCAL 2020. The organizers released some useful tips for virtual conferencing.
Virtual hugs, and other social reinventions
Although the Covid-19 fingerprint will linger in the workplace for some time to come, its impact on social life will probably be everlasting.
For one, will there still be handshakes, or hugs and kisses between strangers in a post Covid-19 world? Someone not adhering to social distance rules may be scoffed at. These new cultural traits, will, of course, affect the way people interact in all places where crowds gather, for example, at sporting events and political meetings.
It will also change the way people use public transport, especially in high density areas. Shopping behaviour is bound to change dramatically with trolleys emptier than before. And the dramatic increase in on-line shopping around the world indicates that more consumers are ordering their products online.
Despite the physical distancing, Khulisa attaches a high value to relationships, an amenable work culture and social connection. To maintain a feeling of connectedness, we are:
- Encouraging team members to talk about our emotions around Covid-19 and the lockdowns, and not just report on our to-do lists, which can be anxiety-inducing (read our journaling blog here for more about this approach)
- Reaching out to each other on a personal, one-on-one level and sharing tips on our WhatsApp groups to put difficult emotions into perspective
Covid-19 is radically shaking policy landscapes
One of the legacies of Covid-19 will be the realisation that government, business and civil society can collaborate in crisis when aiming to achieve a common goal like tackling health issues, reducing inequalities and dealing with poverty and educational challenges.
On the other hand, the dynamic between public and private sectors in many countries has changed, and not always to the benefit of the populations. In many countries, governments have gained total control over its constituencies, which undermines democracy and freedom.
The pandemic has moved climate change down a notch on the global agenda, but while the world has been in lockdown pollution levels have plummeted, so expect environmental groups to lobby governments for more stringent emission regulations and environmental policies – it was proven that it can be done.
The education sector will also be drastically affected by social distancing and home-schooling. Khulisa has joined the SAMEA EDUCOVID Topical Interest Group (TIG) which is convening a range of stakeholders to reflect on how M&E could ensure well-designed and effective education initiatives in the current context, and flag the emergence of any unintended negative consequences.
Download our staff response data, captured in this SlideShare presentation.