We are beginning to hear terms like ‘returning to a semblance of normality’ or ‘things feel more normal’ but I want to pause and actually think about whether we really do want to return to what was considered normal before this global pandemic. Old normal was not sustainable for the economy, people and, more importantly, the planet. As we start to take tentative steps forward again it will take bold entrepreneurs, companies and individuals to say, “Wait, old normal cannot be sustained so let’s take this opportunity to do things differently.”
It is interesting that I have always said change takes time, but recent events prove otherwise – we can adapt and change very quickly when we feel it is in our best interests to do so or we feel threatened. The difference is that COVID 19 was an immediate threat to our health and wellbeing whereas the slow destruction of the planet is insidious, gradual and attitudes have historically been that we can worry about it later. The end result is the same and we should have a greater level of concern about our impact on the planet – after all, there will never be a vaccine that comes along and magically regenerates the earth.
When we were forced to make daily decisions that may have an impact on our own or our loved one’s survival, the majority of us had no problem with following strict rules and procedures that protected us. However, now restrictions have been eased, there has been a frenzied return to the grab and consume attitude, with the limited opportunities available to us exploited to the fullest and in some cases beyond. It reminded me of a restrictive diet followed by a binge. Success comes when we change our habits for the long term. Of course, we can’t remain in lockdown forever but there are definitely some take outs from the experience that will benefit our planet…and therefore us in the future.
Businesses are working out what their future looks like as we all follow new routines to enable us to work. Rather than being an option for the minority, working from home is and will continue to be the reality for many. Glass half full people will look to the advantages – time and money saved without having a daily commute, lunches prepared at home rather than shop bought, flexible working hours that mould to family commitments, increase in productivity and efficiency. The pessimist will miss the distinct separation between home and work environments, the decompression that time spent commuting provides, the structure and formality of a work environment and the face to face interaction with colleagues and customers.
I hope that there will be a cultural change where businesses realise that they can significantly decrease their overheads with smaller or no premises, fewer employee sick days and have the ability to talent source from a global pool of candidates. This new world order will require good levels of trust and exceptional leadership and communication.
Digital platforms and the tech industry have stepped up in these unprecedented times. I recently took part in an innovation workshop allowing interaction between 70 people. The session allowed brain storming activities in separate teams to take place with the results fed back to the main chat room. On one afternoon from the comfort of my own home, I was part of 3 hours of creative and diverse debate with some great minds brought together to problem solve for the future. With no travel or accommodation time required, there is an increased likelihood of greater availability of participants, expenditure was limited and the output was considerably more productive and efficient than it might have been had this been carried out in the ‘old normal’ way.
Even socially there are solutions. I attended my very first online wedding last weekend and, whilst this was considered necessary under the current circumstances, this too could become new normal. Guests that would ordinarily travel from far and wide, at expense to themselves and the environment, could simply connect from home. This particular wedding would have seen family and friends flying in from all around the world but the way it was conducted allowed many more people to share this special moment and chat with other guests that had come together for the celebration. Original, definitely an experience to remember for a lifetime, and still as romantic and beautiful as every wedding should be.
More locally I have heard of a live ‘drive in’ event which will allow for musicians and rising talent to perform live to a car-based audience. A great way for people to safely enjoy events that have been adversely affected by social distancing requirements. I love hearing about businesses or individuals that are embracing change and thinking creatively or looking for alternative options.
I am also having to think about what my own future looks like. We cannot go back to old normal and I don’t believe we should even if we could. Life will be different and so I, like many others, need to be creative and look at ways to re-invent myself and my offering. I am currently exploring how I can add value to my existing partnerships, friends, family, the environment and business.
For many years, motivational speaking has been a key part of my business and the requirement for companies to empower staff and develop leadership skills has never been greater. Creative thinking and effective communication are required to bring teams together more so than ever as we continue to work remotely. The new normal may be more challenging in some areas but having role models, coaching and the right tools to enable people to become better versions of themselves is essential. I have been developing virtual material to offer on a digital platform alongside the more traditional in person presentations to allow me to help support and nurture these newly required skill sets.
Sport will continue to offer a platform that provides corporations an opportunity to promote themselves to audiences across the globe. We will no doubt see many companies using sporting partnerships to highlight how they have adapted and what they can offer consumers in this new environment. I want to help promote businesses that are showing initiative and awareness that we have a unique opportunity for change and that the new normal can lead to a better future for both us and the planet.