written by Julia Pitulska, BA (Hons) Design Management and Cultures
From the rise of zoom calls, shift to remote team meetings, platforms such us BB Collaborate that facilitate distance learning to business coaches and designers trying to accommodate the human need for collaboration in a physical capacity, the Covid-19 induced space of new interventions, even though short-lived, seems to be growing more rapidly than we could have initially predicted. Ironically, as a result of this ever-expanding space of new business opportunities, the borders of the market gap, which firstly protected the urgency to fill the most vital collective needs, became misleadingly skewed.
Having said that, for the purpose of this blog or other personally branded content I could later turn it into and upload to my social media platforms, I could have still jumped on that bandwagon. Taking onboard the ignorant approach to the blurriness of the newly created market gap, I could have based my thought piece another disciplinary strategy focused on the monetisation of the current notion of uncertainty. However, as pleasingly and beneficially to my design strategist exposure this short cut might sound (at first), I decided to take the long road home. What New Agency comes from a complete global reset? Here we go.
All things above considered, what New Agencies should arise from the current environment that “fosters” uncertainty and accelerates the fundamental ways we have been operating? Even more elementally, how could I specifically, as a growing design strategist, use my developing perspective to redesign the borders of this undefined intervention gap? Starting with this remote placement year pull of opportunities, what could I potentially be looking to fill?
One of the key facilitators for this op-ed creation was a discussion with my university professor that I had around the need for a new era of human connectivity in post-pandemic space. Coming out of my MC Teams call, I started to believe that facilitating remote experiences that promote the notion of "hyper-connectivity" and improvement of the overall human (not to be equated with user) experience would be my starting point. Coincidently, right after the call, I happened to put on a podcast episode from Jay Shetty’s On Purpose with his monk mentor, as a part of my new established daily “remote work break” habit.
In this episode, Guaranda Das, the monk mentor, highlighted the need for development in the area of lived human experiences. As Das (2020) reflects upon his monk life findings during the podcast, he decides to challenge the social norm of innovation. “We are improving technology, we are improving systems but what about the human experience which is happening behind these systems and behind these machines?”. Right then and there, the spark for my research was reinforced - what about the human experience behind these commercial interventions? (Shetty, 2020)
Looking at the microcosm of this global dilemma, I found myself reflecting upon my own experience coming into the pandemic and my placement year. Besides the obvious limitations of life in 2020, I have unconsciously drifted away into a world of impeccable work ethics and life-consuming study regime. I was fixated on reaching the peak of my entrepreneurial career the earliest I possibly could, without the clear reason or motivation to push me towards it.
The socially imposed and externally motivated desire to use this time alone to develop professionally reflected in my personal life (or lack of it). Moreover, the comfort brought by the normality of digital life created a sense of discomfort with “human connection” as I knew it prior to the pandemic. With physical isolation, no work-life balance (#wfh), I misread the origin of my purpose. I, therefore, replaced it with paralysed productivity. Without a clear direction for where I want to go or who I am, I lost myself in the process of “building my future” - and without my internally created identity, there was no meaning I saw in building my future. The realisation might sound gruesome at first, but without it, I wouldn’t be able to find my true meaning for the rise of a new agency, this year and hopefully the years to come.
Instead of innovating the user experience (UX) in businesses, management and technology fields, a field that I will be looking at is the human experience (HX) and its importance in the current adversity. Rather than focusing on the efficiency of a team member or profitability based on the emerging market opportunities, the design community could be tackling the problem from the roots up. We can take it from its simplest form - the basic human needs in an event of prolonged isolation, lack of connectivity and state of stress.
The need for purpose and rise of human experience re-research.
Coming back to the question of “what New Agency comes from a complete global reset?”, rather than designing from the ease of feature usability, the effectiveness of the product efficiency rate, I believe that the notion of New Agency will have to accommodate for the mental state of the users and therefore positively impact the actual human lived experience.
With all that said, it’s such a privilege to be able to be part of the discussion around the future of new agencies as a creative and making tangible progress. The need for redesigning what human experience could stand for in today's environment and “the rebrand” of its current objectives for the inevitable/upcoming change in cross-industry developments is one hell of a challenge. However, I think that possibilities like remotely accommodated collaborations and spaces for collective reflection are a great starting point for the development and rise of HX-led Agency.
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