“A new normal is a significant change in the prevailing situation when it has emerged recently, differs dramatically from the previous one and is expected to remain.”
The New Normal. A phrase that we’re hearing more frequently as we transition out of this pandemic. A homage to a life that used to exist just a few short months ago. But what does this ‘new normal’ look like, and what impact will it have on the future of business and us?
From what I’m hearing from clients and seeing on social media platforms, many businesses and industries are having to adapt the way in which they live and work. Working from home is now a permanent feature for many staff and employees, if only in the short term while we’re still uncertain what the Government rules will be about working in close proximity to others in an office or work environment.
In business terms, working from home seemed like a pipe dream before the outbreak. It was an elusive ‘thing’ that people spoke about, dreamed about and even wished would happen. It was the answer they were looking for in order to balance their work commitments with building a life they loved. Now it’s part of everyday life. For other businesses, they’ve had to pivot in order to survive, or simply down tools and ride it out.
This pandemic wasn’t something that any of us had predicted. It’s not something we were prepared for. And while it has been devastating and tragic, it has somewhat forced the hand of change. All of a sudden, businesses had to react to an uncertain situation that was completely out of their control. They were having to do everything that they could to safeguard the future of their business, the future of their staff, the future of their supply chain and their daily lives.
This hasn’t just impacted one industry or a group of society. It’s impacted, EVERYONE. And the ‘new normal’ created will be different depending on the industry that you’re in. We’ve seen some establishments continue to operate during the crisis. Public services such as Royal Mail, high street banks, the NHS, the supermarkets. Even some restaurants have been able to stay open due to the way they could quickly and efficiently pivot their offering that didn’t put their employees or their reputation at risk. The ‘new normal’ for many office-based businesses isn’t only about embracing a new work from home culture, it’s about setting a precedent for the future and welcoming change.
Pre-crisis, many established businesses enforced a policy where employees simply weren’t allowed to or frowned upon to work from home. They were the rules and that was what you had to abide by. It was a belief held by many that employees couldn’t be trusted to work from home, that they’d shirk responsibility, choosing instead to spend their working hours in their PJs on the sofa binge-watching Netflix.
There was a belief that employees couldn’t maintain high levels of service while working from home. That morale would be low and productivity would plummet if there wasn’t a watchful eye on them at all times. This pandemic has taught many businesses that these beliefs simply aren’t true. At least, not in 2020, anyway.
Embracing change has been stressful and uncertain at times, but change can lead to incredible things happening. Change demonstrates the tenacity and resilience of your teams. It can bring out strengths within the business that you simply didn’t know existed. We were all so used to a certain way of working that now we feel more liberated. We feel we can work more collaboratively, it’s no longer ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Technology has certainly enabled businesses to adapt and pivot and ensure that teams feel supported, motivated and connected. Products like Zoom, Teams and Wurkr aren’t something new. Using integrated systems to keep teams connected isn’t anything new, it’s only new to the masses of businesses who didn’t realise that they had a need for it. Phrases such as “Can you see me?” or “Can you hear me?” have become common when starting meetings.
What does the ‘new normal’ look like for you?