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Reinvention, Rebirth, Renaissance

June 11, 2020
I chose the word Renaissance in this title to delineate the significant, positive break with the old and issue a welcome to the new era.
Some have interpreted “not normal” as a negative after reading my last chapter, COVID-19 New Normal is Not Normal , thinking that “back to normal” is the positive goal we should be striving for.

That was not my thinking. I see many positive sides to “not normal.” I myself am not normal (as you have likely observed) and I chose the word Renaissance in this title to delineate the significant, positive break with the old and issue a welcome to the new era. We can escape the “normal” problems of our past to Reinvent our industry and ourselves, leading to a Rebirth that results in a better future world—that is our new Renaissance.

I am amazed by the number of things that simply work better as a result being forced online. Zooming everywhere rather than excessive, senseless travel has changed our perspective while greatly increasing our efficiency. Online learning for all has become the new norm. We all are thinking ten years younger than we were before COVID-19, discovering ways to solve problems remotely using already available resources. Connected and born connected people are our greatest resource and us unconnected folks are all working towards a not normal future.

We have grown up in a time where density has driven economics and bigger is better, urbanization and globalization are a solution. Mega cities now rule the world. I’m not sure that we are ready to move back to farm, but this virus has more of us wondering how dense is too dense? Are we evolving to the second meaning of dense, unintelligent and foolish? Yikes!

Our global remote working experiment has been an amazing success showing folks could be actually more productive and safer working remotely while ignoring the attraction of Mega Cities and Urbanization as an end game. Questions raised about potential problems in our global food chain were answered with a celebration of locally-sourced, sustainable foods. The value of safe and trusted close community, "the between" workplace and our homes/families became obvious.

The success of working remote was outlined in this article by James McHale, Managing Director, Memoori, writing in the April issue of COVID-19 the World's Biggest Remote Working Experiment. Key quote:

Many things that were broken or lost in a senseless procedure and distant bureaucracies were quickly jumped over. Most things actually worked much better and folks discovered they do not need to commute daily to be effective at their job. In fact focused Zoom calls are much more effective.

I found an interesting overview of our pandemic-induced situation in this whitepaper from, the Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey Report (2020):

Nearly 3,000 employees responded to the Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey between March 30th and April 24th, 2020 making it the largest global post-COVID employee survey to date. It has revealed: - Who was working from home before COVID, who's doing it now, who wants to in the future, and how often they want to do it - What's worked and what hasn't - Success enablers…

The Office is Over is a collection of stories from Canada’s National Post looking at how the pandemic has changed the view of the office. Quick sample:  

OTTAWA – As the federal government wrestles with how to bring employees back to the office after the COVID-19 pandemic, Transport Canada’s default policy for the foreseeable future is to work from home, a decision in line with tech giants such as Twitter and Shopify.

Why am I so fascinated by the home office concept? We now have the technologies we originally envisioned at the turn of the century to create a successful home-office interface. 

Since 1975 Jane and I have worked from a home office providing Building Automations & Energy Services, then using a PET computer & 300 baud modem. In 1997 we create a company call Enviromation Services, Inc. to capture the integration of the home office connected to large building and business mostly by modems and phone lines. We floated concepts like the home office replacing second car and the garage space becoming new home office. It was still early days but when we started using email and were introduced to the internet a new era began.

Our ESI brick and mortar company failed. We were much too early to market, under-funded and unprepared for the task. Much of what we envisioned had not yet been invented, but folks were interested in our concepts of an automated homes integrated with their work space and a software commute using remote computing. 

The success of the failure of ESI introduce us to the Internet and the first online version of the store was created which led later to the creation and launching of Here is our introduction from back in 1999. 

So I am very excited to see what we tried to make happen pre-2000 now becoming a reality. If you live long enough your predictions and ideas can come true!

This article by Nicholas Waern, “The Building Whisperer” asks, Is Rural the new Reality?

Location, location, location, in the big cities will matter some, but they probably will not drive innovation. The big player HQs might, but not the city as a whole. It might be different in the US, but still, more people will move domestically from silicon-valley type settings to more suburbs, rural areas, keeping most of the salary if not all, but still working from wherever. 

This article from Helena Norberg-Hoge writing on discusses The Power of Going Local:

But since the advent of colonialism and globalisation, the fabric of local interdependence has been steadily unravelling. We have been made dependent on distant bureaucracies and vast technological systems for everything from our food to our jobs, from the information we receive to our means of social interaction. To our own detriment, we have been distanced from the complex, interdependent web of life that is not only the real economy, but a perpetual source of wonder and fulfilment.

This episode of ControlTalk NOW further develops the theme of Researching & Reinventing Not Normal. From the introduction: 

We all realize, perhaps with some sense of loss, that the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently altered our lives and lifestyles, and with each return (or non-return) to those places we worked, learned, recreated, and traveled to, there is a reboot of sorts in progress. Ken takes a Reboot and Prosper positive view! He says we must, "Recover quickly while Reinventing ourselves."

We are also discussing transitions both on LinkedIn and at our weekly Zoom meeting, MondayLive.orgHere’s a link to a recording of our discussion from June 1st. Just some of the topics we’re discussing include:

Will buildings be repurposed post-COVID?

As COVID changes our relationship with buildings, will there be a move to repurpose commercial buildings to suit the needs of a post-COVID world better?

Will we cease suburb>megacity mass commuting?

What happens with all of the office buildings that make up existing city skylines?

Will smaller suburban offices provide a better work-life balance?

Will empty retail and shopping malls be turned into workplaces?

Will schools and colleges be turned into gathering and networking places, leaving learning to be online?

Is the 9-5 workday dead?

Below are some Covid-19 discussions and resources of value I would like to share with you.

The Role of Data and Analytics in Responding to the Covid-19 Challenge , from John Petze, Partner, Co-Founder SkyFoundry.

Any response to the Covid-19 challenge should first center on identifying and adopting best practices.

Connected Homes and Intelligent Buildings in the COVID-19 Era by Ron Zimmer President, CEO, CABA.

The most important point is that in the last 30 years technology for “connected homes and intelligent buildings” is well positioned to help people and businesses survive COVID-19.

Public health policy for buildings will require that all contractors are health risk from the writers at Totem-Buildings.

Your company can provide you with Totem, a health-risk safety solution that directly responds to public health concerns in commercial real estate.

From Daphne Tomlinson, Senior Research Associate at Memoori, writing on their web site:

Digital Twins, virtual models of a process, product or service that allow for data analysis and system monitoring via simulations, are playing an increasing role in IoT and digital transformation in buildings. Projects today span multiple building sectors, including commercial real estate, retail, infrastructure, smart cities, smart campuses and healthcare facilities.  Deloitte predicted in 2019 that the digital twin is the next industry-wide disruption in real estate.

From the Lux Review:

Internet-connected lights with enabling technology has always had the ability to monitor employee movements and density, and this has been used by building managers to manage space effectively.  But with the easing of the Covid-19 lockdowns around the world and the return to the office, the same technology can help ensure employees comply with social distancing requirements.

From Michael Brown, Executive Editor at TechHive:

Wireless sensors and service can predict HVAC maintenance needs…  SmartAC will also be partnering with local HVAC contractors to provide a nationwide service network. The company says its goal is to reach 80 percent of the U.S. market by the end of 2020.

From Contributing Editor Sudha Jamthe, CEO of IoTDistruptions, Partnership of Autonomous Vehicles with Autonomous Buildings:

What began as a collision of buildings and autonomous vehicles will ease into an equilibrium when the building becomes autonomous and we can have an AI carry the context of users from their vehicles to buildings back to vehicles.

Barney L. Capehart, University of Florida, Harry Indig, KDS Energy and Lynne C. Capehart, Consultant, in this blast-from-the-past article from May 2004 ask, What If Buildings Were Built Like Cars?:

While it is true that most new buildings have new technology in the form of new equipment and insulation, there is little new technology for the building occupants to see and use. In contrast, every new automobile—regardless of its price—is filled with new technology.

You’re right Toby Ruckert, no matter what technology we still have to be nice—thanks for reminding us. 

So will it be—should it be—back to normal? Normal is when something conforms to a general pattern, standard, or average. But naturally, that standard can change over time. What's normal today may be abnormal in the future. The new not normal I envision is much better than yesterday's normal, above normal, or even abnormal, and it will be anything but normal.

Embrace Not Normal and get on with Reinvention, Rebirth and Renaissance.

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