Trend Watch April 2020

Is Play a Cure for Loneliness?

Communities that connect through play are well-placed to support each other in times of crisis writes Alison Stenning, Professor of Geography at Newcastle University and play streets activist, for The Developer.

Stenning has published a report looking at the benefits of organised neighbourhood play sessions in the UK grassroots movement Playing Out, where streets are temporarily closed for games and chalk drawing.

“Playing out’ is not just about play and not just for children,” she writes, as neighbours of all ages are encouraged to participate and form new relationships with others who live on their street.

“These new connections enable and are reinforced by a proliferation of contact between neighbours outside of street play sessions. Neighbours lend and borrow equipment, ingredients, and occasionally money. They look out for each other and each other’s homes, pets and, sometimes, children. They play and spend time together between sessions, on the street and in each other’s homes,” says Stenning.

“These new relationships connect neighbours in vulnerable situations, whether with ill-health, or elderly, or recently separated. Through the connections made in playing out sessions, neighbours learn each other’s names and much more about their everyday lives, including their struggles.”

The necessity for social distancing during the current coronavirus pandemic has curtailed the way people are able to play and spend time together. However, communities need each other now more than ever, with reports of isolation magnifying the risk of loneliness in the general population, particularly for older people.

Some communities are trying to overcome this with social-distance dance parties on the street, local heroes dressing up in costumes to entertain the neighbours, teachers visiting students in car convoys, and parents organising virtual playdates.

Social distance dancing in North Manchester, UK.


How to Look Professional on Work Video Conference Calls:

There’s a learning curve for most of us new to telecommuting. The New York Post and Harvard Business Review share tips on how to run productive virtual meetings, with polished presentation.

First, some thoughts from the New York Post on how to look presentable during work video conferences – including framing, lighting, sound, outfits, backgrounds and pet etiquette.

Now that you’ve covered your on-screen presence, Harvard Business Review writes that it’s all the more important to run focused, efficient meetings when your colleagues are not in the same room.

Follow best practice for meetings and set clear objectives, and send a pre-read if appropriate. During the session, use an agenda, set ground rules, take breaks, and clearly outline next steps (including timing and accountabilities) after each section and at the end of the meeting.

Other gems include making video-first the norm, testing technology ahead of time, minimise presentation length, use ice breakers and encourage all of the team to participate.

Read the full article on What It Takes to Run a Great Virtual Meeting.


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