2021 was the year of reflection and reevaluation. With digital transformation pioneering shifts in our day-to-day, we’ve started to reexamine, reimagine, and re-explore like never before. So, what community engagement trends can we expect in 2022?

Moving into 2022, we predict that people are going to look at their lives with fresh eyes. Just read a few articles on the looming ‘great resignation’ and you will see what we mean. The shift into a new year definitely won’t clean the slate. We imagine people will seek out more meaningful relationships with the places and people around them. The expectation to be involved in community engagement and planning will also increase as people start this exploration.

We’ve identified a few trends that might take community engagement to new heights in 2022.

We Will Experience a Renewed Sense of People, Purpose, and Place

Longer periods of isolation have had major social and economic impacts, which has forced us to get reacquainted with our local communities, showcasing the value of connectedness. But, as vaccination rates continue to rise and global communities continue to reopen, we anticipate that people will want to be informed about changes in the places they live and be empowered to participate in decision-making.

After having plenty of time to take stock, we will start reimagining what’s possible. That will involve leveraging technology, connecting new ideas, and re-building our skills, resources, and capabilities. We will foster connectedness to breed resilience, prosperity, and adaptability.

Within the community engagement space, this will tie into the value of placemaking. Effective community engagement will maximize the shared value of our built environment by strengthening the connection between people and the places they share.

Communities Will Expect More Choice and Convenience

People are getting used to convenience. Telehealth, online shopping, remote work, and distance learning have changed our expectations. We’re very inclined to think that organizations should fit in with our lives. So, community engagement professionals, who are responsible for informing everyone about proposed changes in their area will have to keep finding new ways to reach people.

Flexibility and choice will prevail. If you are providing multiple engagement avenues for your community to participate in, then you’re instantly creating a more accessible environment. So, if your community engagement project can be accessed anytime, anywhere, you’re already ahead. Hybrid community engagement strategies will keep getting more expansive and sophisticated, and we’ll continue to break down the barriers that used to prevent people from participating.

We Will Need to Bridge the Trust Gap

Trust has always been closely linked to a sense of community, but it’s becoming harder to build in an era of information manipulation. Politicians, government ministers, and business leaders were ranked among the least trustworthy people in the Ipsos Global Trustworthy Index 2021. But, trust will be essential for us to navigate major challenges like climate change and social polarization going forward. So how do we rebuild it? Businesses will have to start maximizing shareholder and community value, while governments will need to facilitate more meaningful dialogue with the public.

2022 will be the year of opportunities. Opportunities to reinforce your stakeholder connections, and create a strategy that empowers your community for the better.