We knew there would be some sort of new normal after the pandemic had disappeared. The problem is that it is not going to be short-lived, which would invite an elastic snap back to where we were.
Instead we can now, even if we do not want to, see a lockdown of some sort lasting through the summer (and, to be sure, we do not want to face Christmas with the pandemic still hanging around).
In the time that we have been working from home, we have all made new habits. A new one, so ‘they’ say takes 14 days to learn. And we have had far more days than that. We are now facing a new normal that is very different.
Working from home, for many, will be one new normal. Offices will still exist (although being in the business of renting office space cannot be fun right now) but more as places to meet and exchange those ideas that happen around the water cooler. Google and other cool high tech giants had it right when they made play areas where people could throw ideas around. Indeed, the concept of corporate sandpits has been around for years.
O2 in the UK has done a survey that discovered almost half of those who have been working from home would continue to do so, in some form, in future.
Managers, too, are changing their attitude. Some that we spoke to when the lockdown first started were definite in their view that business, as usual, would be resumed as soon as possible. Week three and the view was changing to one where they could not believe how much more efficient and effective it was to manage teams from home. Some cited mental health issues emerging amongst some of their workforce, generating debate about what the office would be used for in the future.
Now, the prevalent view is that the benefits of having the workforce at home are obvious and that managers are realising that people spending hours commuting in cars, trains, planes, and automobiles for no real reason was happening simply because ‘it’s always been like that’.
The knock-on effect of this enormous change is barely imaginable. All the industries that rely on maintaining those lost hours every week could be decimated. The roles of those trains, planes and automobiles, and their supporting infrastructures, may be cruelly redefined. Given that our view of cars, travel and more, were slowly changing before the virus hit just meant a raft of new normals were leaning against an open door.
The new normal will be new and anything but normal.
The good news is that COVID-19 may have just saved the planet.