Greetings from the new normal

Since March, covid-19 restrictions have forced Healthy Boost partners to find new ways of working together online – as has been the case for rest of Europe. How have our partners managed in this? What is transnational cooperation in times of epidemic?

First, coordinating the project has not really changed so much. We had online meeting routines set up already before corona. There is coordinator’s monthly meetings and smaller working group meetings. We have been lucky that we had built the trust already in face-to-face meetings. It is easier to communicate after you know something more of the person you are emailing to.

However, of course we had reserved workshopping and creative brainstorming for the project team meetings held in different hometowns. Creating something new or dealing with complex issues is not very easy online, especially when there are more than two persons involved. Not to mention the possible technological challenges.

Project personnel in Zoom meeting.

Picture: Finishing a fruitful workshop on co-creation. Healthy Boost project meeting in September 2020.

Since the topic of our project is cooperation, we have been able to focus on fruitful co-creation. In our online project team meeting, we had a good lesson on online working. There are plenty of good tools for online working. What is needed is a moment or two to really learn how to use them. Fortunately, we still have time to practice during the project.

We have decided that we will not have any more physical project team meetings. It is unpleasant, and even sad. Nevertheless, we have the last budget modification process going on, and we felt we should allocate the money into options that are more realistic. We are encouraging the partners to meet in smaller working groups, if needed. If the smaller meetings had to be cancelled due corona restrictions, it would not have such a big impact.

Overall, we have felt that working with project partners only online is not that bad. However, working with citizens and other pilots’ target groups is in many ways different from working with your colleagues.

In spring, we all first postponed events to autumn. Some of us were able to reach our target groups during the calmer situation in summer. Now our capabilities are really tested during the winter. Are we able to come up with creative solutions to attract the target groups and reach our goals? Since everyone is in the same boat, there is lot of understanding and readiness to use digital tools. We are positive that we will reach our project’s goals despite the setbacks.

Covid-19 has even boosted the cooperation between different sectors in municipalities and between NGOs. In our September online meeting, we asked the piloting partners which factors have eased the cooperation and which factors have hindered it. Corona is mentioned as a factor in both cases.

Pictures: Lead partner asked the piloting partners about their cooperation via Mentimeter

Word cloud.

Picture: Factors that have contrubuted to pilots' cooperation processes across sectors, top three: Motivation, common goals and online work.

 

Word cloud

Picture: Factors that have challenged cooperation processes across sectors, top three:  Covid-19, busy partners and restrictions. 

 

Laura Luukkonen, project coordinator
City of Turku