How mining shifts during the coronavirus pandemic became a creative spark for one planning team in the Philippines.

When the outbreak started to spike back in the Philippines in March, the notion that we could be recovering by mid-year persisted. When the idea of a lockdown was broached the consensus seemed to be that it would be painful to bring everything to a standstill, as many countries were doing, but it would only be for a few weeks.

Yet more than 100 days since the first day of our “enhanced” community quarantine (the first of many types of quarantine categories that Filipino cities would be subjected to, from “enhanced” to “modified” to “general”), it is abundantly clear that the pandemic is far from over.

There is a vast amount of content covering COVID-19 – from news coverage, social media, brand content, search trends, and user data across different platforms. One prompt we found both challenging and exciting was from thinking not only about what is happening now, but – what comes next? What changes would take root? What sectors are looking at the greatest level of change?

We examined different areas of Filipino life that are changing and will continue to be heavily impacted by the pandemic and we note fourteen pivotal areas divided into predictions under “Mid-Pandemic” and “Post-Pandemic”.

Read the Looking Forward – Philippine Predictions, Post-Lockdown and Beyond report here.

It was challenging to ever call this piece ‘done’ as the situation is still unfolding and every day we would find new examples to add or that would enrich the narrative. The language of ‘predictions’ is also potentially problematic as things that we uncovered when we started the piece a few months ago are, just a few weeks later, no longer new. All the same we felt it was worth mining this area to identify and name the hot button areas that would impact our brand work. It was also helpful and cathartic, even on a personal level, to dive in to all the news, content and data, to craft a point-of-view.

In doing this the biggest realisation was that while the tragedy is rampaging on in so many parts of the world, including ours, there is a small part of us that feels a sense of excitement about the change this pandemic is forcing across sectors, organizations and countries. Having our hyper-mobility taken away, one of the landmarks of our modern life, and being forced into a great pause, or a great slowdown as this has also been called, allows us a more solid vantage point to see the changes that continue to happen and even accelerate while we stand still.

Based on all that we’ve seen, this extended lockdown period will change how we move, work, learn, live, play, travel, govern; it will change everything.

Predictions snapshot

Mid-pandemic predictions:
  • Trust issues – The experience of managing life with coronavirus has impacted previously unquestioned daily behaviours and rituals that leave people more selective as to who they can trust, whether individuals or institutions.
  • COVID-cocooning – As family members’ lives blend in the home, Filipinos are finding solutions to maximize productivity and efficiency while living in a limited space.
  • The new school – Educational institutions and families experience tremendous amounts of pressure in dealing with the shift out of conventional methods, all of which will impact students for years to come.
  • Hyper e-growth – The need to stay at home drives growth across three main areas: e-commerce, e-services, e-finances, which will most likely carry on even after the lockdown is over.
  • Connection on steroids – Despite the isolation, the need to reach out, connect and enjoy culture remains present and is heavily supported by digital platforms.
  • A blue Christmas – The most wonderful time of the year may feel different this year with Filipinos still recovering from the heavy impacts of the pandemic.
Post-pandemic predictions:
  • Collective PTSD – Together with the rest of the world, Filipinos will experience sadness, loss and anxiety that will need to be acknowledged and treated to fully recover and move on.
  • New sense of value – Time spent “cocooning” at home will lead to independent, empowered consumers who will question products and services that they have been able to provide on their own. Pivot in value proposition will be needed to ensure that businesses are relevant to the post-Covid consumer.
  • Cautious exploration – While the desire to travel remains, more caution will be practiced in how, when and where people will travel.
  • Spotlight on LGUs – The role of LGUs (local government units) proved to be crucial in how citizens experience and recover from the pandemic and how they plan to be more resilient in the future.
  • Healthcare focus – With trust issues and collective anxiety lingering amongst Filipinos, provisions for healthcare become increasingly important as people prepare themselves for similar situations.
  • The new work – Aside from shifts in “traditional” work, new and unconventional “work” will show more prominence with Filipinos seeking various means to support themselves and their families.
  • Support for the disenfranchised – There are segments that were affected more than others and will need more assistance as their road to recovery is a longer and harsher one.
  • Gen Z-led inclusive progress – Gen Z continuously proves to be more ambitious, driven and active compared to other generations and are unafraid of initiating and carrying out significant change.

In history books, the COVID-19 pandemic will be named along with world wars, the Industrial Revolution – as movements that completely reshaped and reconfigured society. The smaller movements happening within the pandemic are evidence of this. I have a strong feeling that the shifts taking place right now will influence every truth, insight, problem and solution that we will call on for some time still.

There is so much for planners to feed on – there will be so many perspectives and data points to review, cut and study as this continues to play out. As such I feel like this is a crucial moment for the local and worldwide planning community.

It is a time for us not to be afraid to watch and observe (the insights will come later) the multitudes that are happening around us. It is a time to question ways of working, ways of doing business that organizations didn’t want to challenge before. It is a time to be excited, and it is a time to be brave.