New Normal vs. Old Normal

Now that we are a full year into this pandemic, working from home or attending school from home has become the new normal for many of us.  The good news is we are starting to see a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel now. Have you noticed that people are still saying, “when we get back to normal,” followed by whatever activity they are missing? 

When we pause for a moment to really think about that statement, we quickly realize that the old normal is just that

The old normal.

Our work and home lives have been forever altered by the last 12 months. Many people will choose to continue working from home, while others are clamoring to get back into a physical office or school.  Still others want a hybrid or flexible choice.  What does this mean to how we work and collaborate together while also caring for our own needs?

As a population, we are resilient and creative. We adapted quite well to productive and satisfying work and school lives while being entirely remote. The world of work looks different now. How can we remain relevant and at the top of our game — while also maintaining and building those critical collaborative and enjoyable relationships? 

All you have to do is look around you and within you.  Haven’t you been doing this all along, without realizing you are learning new ways to thrive?

I have recently participated in a number of conversations about this topic, with a variety of people in a variety of forums. What I heard rise to the top were a handful of consistent themes that resonated with me, and I feel that they will likely resonate with you as well.  Let me offer up a few of these that you may not have encountered on the thousands of other lists published in the last 12 months.

1. All parts of our lives are jumbled together.  Use this to your advantage.

We have had a chance to try different activities and operate with an oddly flexible schedule.  We have also given each other grace to adapt. That doesn’t need to change when the world starts to open up again. Life happens.  Those who may not have understood that so well one to two years ago certainly understand that now.  How can you still get all your work done and provide value to both your company and yourself? Take the time to experiment with your flexibility. And while you’re at it, forgive the barking dogs, fighting children and other remarkably human moments you observe from others.

2. Instant messaging is the new office “swing-by.”

Whichever collaborative software you have been using, whether it is Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype or something else, we are using the heck out of the instant messaging features. We still have a lot of meetings and classes, we still have a ton of work and we still need to be able to have those immediate conversations. Remember in the office when you would try to catch someone in their office to run something by them or talk about that last meeting?  It was always so hit or miss.  You can do that now via instant message!  It’s also much easier than trying to sneak in a text during an in-person meeting too.

3. The walls have come down and the lines have (mostly) disappeared with global coworkers.

While the pandemic did nothing to change the way time actually works, it did diminish that feeling of being left out by being in an office that is different than most of your coworkers. While we have ALL been remote, the inclusion factor of those who have traditionally felt excluded has expanded. Those days of gathering in the break room for cake, or a happy hour after class, will forever be different.  When we can do these things in person again, don’t forget to bring along your global friends and co-workers using the technology we have become accustomed to using.

These are just a few of the insights gained by many over the past year. So, let go of thinking that life will return to old normal.  It will not. The new normal has much more to offer and has exponentially changed how we will grow and interact with others. 

Embrace the future!


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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.