Thrive phase: "Returning to the new normal for public administrators: the Swiss perspective"
As the pandemic is receding and the economy is slowly recovering – we are gradually returning to normal. This also provides opportunities to go beyond “returning to normal”. The new normal will have public administrators better prepared for future pandemics and more agile in providing critical services. The measures government takes during the thrive phase can lay the foundation for improved performance, sustained economic growth and increased resilience long after the pandemic ends.
An increasing expectation is that governments will use digital tools more frequently and in more comprehensive ways. Technologies such as AI, blockchain and the cloud are thus used as an integral to government business when interacting with the public. Greater use of relevant technologies will make authorities less dependent on physical locations and more resilient to future crises.
In the next phase of the pandemic, the "thrive phase", public administrators will lay the foundation for a more resilient health system, a stronger economy and a more adaptable government. We have defined the following five imperatives through which authorities can lead towards a better future.
The Swiss perspective
In addition to these five imperatives, we see another element as extremely important in Switzerland: citizen centricity and involvement to generate opinions and ideas.
An exemplary step in the right direction was made with the Versus Virus Hackathon organised by Impact Hub Switzerland. The aim was to generate as many good ideas as possible to combat the corona crisis in a 48-hour workshop. The call for co-creation is commendable, but focussing on the younger generation, due to the digital focus, is not far-reaching enough. Inclusiveness must have the highest priority when involving citizens and the private sector to source opinions. It is critical to get a holistic and comprehensive view of how people and businesses feel about the actions being taken. It is important to ensure that everyone feels heard by removing all barriers in order to express opinions. How can this be achieved in a federalist country like Switzerland?
In our opinion, the leaders should open the doors widely to source ideas and innovations – go where people go and use the channels citizens use. Gather opinions on the street, talk to the elderly in nursing homes, organise neighbourhood video conferences. Actively monitor opinions expressed on social media, organise Twitter debates and set up Instagram polls to gain insights. If you do not use all available channels to connect with people, an incomplete perspective is inevitable and unavoidable. After the partial lockdown, citizen centricity and involvement should become the new normal in Switzerland.