December 2020

By Jon Spratley, Managing Director – 42 Technology Limited.

2021

Instead of sending cards to potentially empty offices around the world, this year I emailed our clients my positive thoughts on 2020, predictions for 2021, and shared some of the things we’ve been thinking and writing about, which I hoped would be of interest! As feedback has been overwhelmingly positive I thought I’d share it all here too.

The positives

2020 has been quite a year, one that many people would like to forget, but also one where positives can be found. Clearly the pandemic has been a terrible and tragic event that has claimed many lives. It has also been a time to be proud of what we have achieved and a time of everyday heroes.

Early in the outbreak, engineers and scientists did what they do best in times of a challenge – worked hard to be part of the solution, in any way that they could. At 42T, our team was involved in:

  • Developing ventilators
  • Implementing stop-gap PPE production systems for local GP surgeries and hospitals
  • Recommending text-to-speech systems for hearing-impaired medical staff who could no longer lipread due to face masks.

Every other engineering company I spoke to through our supply chain, customers and competitors were equally helping in any way that they could. It made me very proud to be part of such a positive and caring community.

A silver lining?

We know that coronavirus has taken a toll on people and businesses, but is there a silver lining? Are there some areas where the disruption has forced beneficial change upon us? I believe so…

  • We’ve saved time travelling and reduced our CO2 emissions.
  • Meetings no longer wait for participants to be in the same place or to have a whole day free, which keeps R&D projects moving faster. This also can allow senior stakeholders to participate where this would not have been an option at an in-person meeting.
  • Even innovation workshops have proved viable with the right tools. Remote workshops offer a big saving on travel time and expense, and the inherent digital nature of the output makes follow up and further development much easier.

And for me personally, more time with my family. Have you anything to add? Let me know!

The future?

There is still a huge challenge of vaccine storage, distribution and inoculation, but there is definitely a light appearing at the end of the tunnel and it’s in large part thanks to the scientific and engineering communities doing what they do best. I think some of the rapid changes that we have seen will remain, some will not.

I’m not convinced that remote working will remain ubiquitous – it is too isolating for most, which has impact on our mental health, and is harder to foster collaboration and innovation. However, I can certainly see a hybrid enduring where it is accepted that one works where one is most productive.

Equally, I don’t think business travel has gone forever. Whilst excessive international travel is not sustainable, or acceptable, in person meetings are really important to build relationships and shared experiences and trust. The pragmatic combination of occasional travel and supplemental remote meetings should become the norm.

One thing that the pandemic has starkly highlighted is that global healthcare development is needed. It is not sustainable to allow even a far-flung country to have a failing healthcare system. We are all connected, and diseases don’t recognise borders. And here is a frontier that enthusiastic and brilliant engineers and scientists can help. Low cost, readily available diagnostics, tools and equipment, targeted medication and prophylaxes will help make the world a safer place for everyone.

Pandemic aside, it’s been encouraging to see major brands taking steps to cut single-use plastic in 2020 – another issue without national boundaries. It’s a topic that’s close to our hearts and we hope to see this activity step up several gears as we enter 2021.

At 42T we are proud to play our part and look forward to continuing to do what we do best: solving very difficult technical challenges and developing worthy and fascinating new products to improve life in some small way.

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Wishing you a happy holiday, and positive 2021, from everyone here at 42 Technology!

Best wishes,

Jon