Recently, I was helping my teenager study for their U.S. history exam, which covered Jimmy Carter’s presidency through the early 2000s. I admit it was alternately fun to study modern history and a little horrifying — the events I’ve lived through are history?
Studying took longer than usual because we kept pausing to talk about my memories of these events. I shared what it felt like the day the Iranian hostages were freed. I remembered being at elementary school waiting for my mother to finish her job as a teacher’s aide when we learned John Hinckley Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan. And, of course, we talked about where I was when the planes hit the World Trade Center in 2001.
It has been said that news is the first rough draft of history, and we all know 2020 will be a year for the history books. Years from now, we’ll be discussing the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic. What did it do to us psychologically? How did it impact students’ learning? How did it change the world of work?
We’re still living in the shadow of Covid-19, but we have some answers when it comes to industry. Just read our cover story on Industry 5.0. When we were students studying history, we learned about the first industrial revolution when the world shifted from an agrarian society to an industrial one, thanks to the invention of the steam engine. The second industrial revolution coincided with the advent of new energy sources — electricity, gas and oil. The third came in the second half of the 20th century with the rise of electronics and computers. We’re in the fourth revolution now, thanks to the internet. However, the fifth industrial revolution is approaching — Industry 5.0 — and it has less to do with technological advancements and more to do with where we find ourselves after the uncertainties of the pandemic.
As Jennifer Bringle writes in her article: “The movement has roots in the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which accelerated the adoption of digital tools such as online shopping and video calls while also reinforcing the need for human contact and physical connectedness. Other societal shifts, such as an increased concern about environmental issues and the rise of social justice movements, also contribute to the Industry 5.0 ethos.”
The bedding industry seems to be shifting toward sustainability in all its meanings. And while machinery is increasingly automating the factory floor, the need for willing workers is ever-present. Understanding and embracing Industry 5.0 can help manufacturers bring employees along in a technology-driven workplace.
I like to think that focusing on human connection and caring about employees is a positive story we can add to our complicated 2020s timeline. Here’s to living history.