As recently as March of this year it was the expression on everyone's lips: ‘The New Normal’. It was the subject that largely dominated discussion forums everywhere, giving us plenty to talk about on Zoom, Teams and the plethora of other online communication forums we have come to depend upon. We just couldn't get enough of New Normal discussions.
A few short months later and it barely gets a mention. Maybe we all expected this New Normal thing to emerge as something more exciting than a life of homeworking, or some combination of this and the occasional visit to an office? Or perhaps we have been so busy adapting to such changes and enjoying their fruits that we’ve decided to keep our heads down lest they be taken away? Whatever the reason, it is no longer dominating our discussions. We appear to have settled on a New Normal, at least for now.
So, what might be the next stage this pandemic has in store for us? From a public health perspective, who can say, but what we probably can be more certain about is that organisational behavioural pressures towards further change, some more obvious than others, will continue to build.
Firstly, the pressures that are already evident to return us to the Old Normal. There are many vested interests from office owners to the hospitality industry who stand to lose out financially the longer the current environment continues. This is reinforced by the instinct many of us feel that drives us towards trying to regain that which is familiar.
But there are other countervailing pressures coming from those who would stand to gain from a New Normal resulting in different patterns of working and living. One need look no further than certain areas of the tech sector to understand how this might be the case.
For as much as we may have enjoyed discussions about New Normal, how many of us really want it to arrive? Being asked to suddenly disconnect from what we know as normal feels like may be too big a jump for many.
But there can be no escaping the fact that significant change has happened and it is likely that more is on the way. There will doubtless be benefits, but they may be difficult to see through the fog of uncertainty that will be especially thick in the short-term. A good time therefore to ensure that our organisations are engaged with clients, who will be feeling similar anxieties to those we are experiencing ourselves.