Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Cartoon of the week

Anne says: This week my inbox was filled with content about trust. Trust of our politicians (or not), trust of our systems to keep us safe (or not), trust of our economy and banks (or not), trust within our remote workplace teams and so many more.. and, this cartoon from GapingVoid.

The cartoon has been inspired by Jeremy Epstein and his Systems of Trust. As an advocator for blockchain-based trust systems, he believes that our current systems are not serving us well, particularly in these times of crisis.

Without trust at the foundation of our interactions with other people, the world becomes a very unpleasant place.

Epstein proposes the public blockchains, with decentralised trust layers provide an innovative and scalable alternative to our current situation. To be successful it requires our internal Systems of Trust (almost like our gut feelings – but a bit more objective).

As our awareness grows of the vulnerabilities of existing third-party Systems of Trust, we are compelled to improve our internal trust mechanisms.  We make better decisions and we can do our best work.

As a proponent of these sorts of blockchain systems myself, I agree that there is enormous potential now to change some of our systems of trust – it will take time and people who are committed to changing what is fundamentally broken in many of our existing third party trust systems.


Emerging from COVID-19: Australians embrace their values

Anne says: McKinsey Design has released a new report that caught my attention as it was specifically based on Australians – which doesn’t really happen that often! The background, which draws on the consumer-sentiment analysis, shows that the economy is a concern for most Australians. That has created a controlled spending behaviour while increasing in digital commerce (no surprises there), but the economy is essentially being maintained by those who have not had their jobs furloughed or lost.

The research participants are intended to represent Australians – 12 families who were:

from small regional families struggling to keep their livelihoods afloat to couples in small inner-city apartments feeling bored and isolated to large families overwhelmed by the blending of work, home, and school demands under one roof.

A warning from me – this is a very small sample and could be argued that it doesn’t fully represent the diversity and ethnicity of Australia’s population – but they don’t mention that in the participant descriptions. As with many of these studies – it can only be used as a snapshot in a period of time, a rapid ethnographic approach.

The key findings include:

  • Shifts in spending,
  • Changes in consumer preferences,
  • Forced and accelerated adoption of digital technologies, and
  • Rapidly increasing consumer expectations and adaptions of new household dynamics, including the mental strain of isolation.

The report presents their findings in five user design-based scenarios, accompanied by quotes from participants and a question from the researchers to business leaders. None of the scenarios would come as a surprise to any of us living through lockdown and the crisis of a pandemic, they are all relatable:

  1. Socially conscious values come to the fore,
  2. New dynamics at home mean new priorities,
  3. Healthy habits,
  4. More deliberate shopping choices, and
  5. e-Commerce’s failure to launch.

Aside from my concerns about the size and representation of the research, the conclusions are somewhat more concerning.

Australians are looking forward to getting back to normal. That will take time. Which changes will stick is impossible to predict. Business leaders can learn from consumers during this time—and make choices about what future they are going to create for them.

Australian consumers are as much the shapers of the next normal as they are participants within it.

While good user research is not necessarily required to provide conclusions or solutions, the outputs would be valued for their insights and ability to provide guidance or pathways for further exploration. The scenarios go some of the way towards this, however, the statement about returning to normal and changes seems out of line with the reported data in the scenarios. While all consumers are the shapers of commercial success, I had expected that some mention of government’s leadership role in the future would be addressed.


Lockdown challenges – what evolution tells us about our need for personal space

Jakkii says: As someone with a large personal space bubble even pre-covid, when I saw the title of this article I immediately thought, wow, I must be really evolved. ; )

In all seriousness though, this is an interesting look at how and why being contained in our homes with just our family (or flatmates) for company can be quite frustrating. The author takes a look at how social groups work in other primate species, as well as our need for breathing room. The crux of it all is our evolution into creatures with quite flexible social networks, ones that give us plenty of personal space to manage ourselves and our relationships.

There is hope, however. Humans are resilient creatures who will find strategies to achieve some sense of personal space during lockdown, whether it’s through modern technology or a simple solitary stroll.

Sounds familiar to me – how about you? There’s not a lot to take away from this article to be honest, but I appreciated the insight and the look at the challenges of being in lockdown without the same level of personal space from the perspective of social behaviour.


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tells employees they can work from home ‘forever’—before you celebrate, there’s a catch

Jakkii says: Anne shared this article with our Remote Working Meetup Group and we discussed it a little this morning during the meetup. What stood out for me here wasn’t so much the idea of Twitter – or any company – suggesting remote or distributed work might become the norm, but rather the author’s take that doing so might also mean huge cost savings for companies, not just in real estate but in paying people who live in lower-cost-of-living cities less than their equivalents in higher-cost-of-living cities. I don’t know about you, but I for one am not ready to see ‘equal pay for equal work’ go out the door on this basis. If the job – and, indeed, the employee – is worth $80K to you, it’s worth $80K whether they’re based in San Francisco or Wichita Falls. Similarly, the article fails to discuss who pays when people work from home. Putting the potential savings in costs of commuting to one side, the actual cost of work for the employee goes up, at a minimum because of increased consumption of power, water & toilet paper (no wonder we’ve all been hoarding!). Depending on the requirements, other costs might be involved – fitting out a home office, increasing an internet and/or mobile phone plan in order to have appropriate data limits and speeds to support things like video calls. Who pays for all of this? If it’s the employee – will they receive an increase in salary to compensate them, now that they’re expected to work from home all the time, or even more of the time? And with large scale unemployment, how do we fight for ourselves and each other when we may feel disempowered, disenfranchised, and scared to lose our jobs?

While the article discusses the potential for access to an increased talent pool by opening up roles to remote workers from anywhere, disappointingly it does not mention the opportunities for hiring people with disabilities that this presents. The ability to work remotely is something that has been needed for a long time, yet hasn’t always been made available. While it shouldn’t have taken a worldwide pandemic to make change, we should absolutely use this opportunity to make work more accessible going forward – and that, of course, goes beyond just allowing for working from anywhere. And it’s not just with employment, either – if we’re going to have to reassess how we do things in the world around us, there’s never been a better time for us to consider how we can leverage the impact of COVID-19 to improve accessibility in every facet of life.

There are lots of discussions, planning, strategy and work that remains ahead for organisations in figuring out when and how to bring employees back to the office – if at all. That need puts us all in a unique and powerful position: to consider what we want the future of work to look in our organisations, and how we can implement changes to make that happen. More broadly, we have these same opportunities in our societies as well – it’s time to start thinking, and start getting involved in our communities and engaging with our political representatives.

Real, positive change is possible – but we have to want it, and we have to work to make it happen.


Around the house

Jakkii says: Each week I’ve been giving you a handful of suggestions for ways to keep yourself occupied at home. While in some places in Australia, stage 1 easing of lockdown restrictions begins this weekend, there’s still a long way to go and still a lot of time at home ahead. There’s a case to be made for why you should embrace the boredom that comes with the lockdown and all the extra time spent at home – but for those times you just can’t do that, here’s this week’s list.

Friday Funnies

Learn from this dog how to properly wear your mask:

Misinformation Friday Five

COVID-19 Friday Five

Work Friday Five

Tech Friday Five

Social Media Friday Five

Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: what smart brands can during the crisis – a special with Andrew Baxter. Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.

Our guest this week: Adjunct Professor Andrew Baxter

The stories this week

01:51 – How smart brands build their reputation during the crisis

16:27 – Advertising is getting crushed by COVID-19

Other stories we bring up

Andrew’s article in The Australian

Gin distilleries around Australia are producing hand sanitiser

Google is planning to slash its marketing budgets by as much as half

Netflix gets 16 million new subscribers

It takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become a habit

Mike Seymour’s insight on the state of the film industry


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