Any concern that the ‘new normal’ will be a foreign land or some kind of purgatory is being contradicted by increasing views of the familiar.
The warm weekend weather brought people out in droves with Edinburgh’s Meadows with hardly a 2m space between groups of sun-drunk families and friends. And the pavements of the streets in the city are showing less and less diversionary moves from its citizens – while not quite rubbing shoulders, there is much less pavement distancing as two coming towards each other seek to divert.
So, the elastic band of the familiar is pulling us ever closer to what came before all this. Will we be left with any kind of change? Yes. We know that we can work and be productive outside of the office environment. Video conferencing holds no fear now for most. Productivity apps are our friend. We probably knew all this anyway given the amount of home working that goes on outside of office hours.
Yet, we need to remember the importance of what we lost in early Spring. The need for social contact that is physical rather than virtual is real and important for many. Workplaces are social constructs too, important for many and for some it is their only community. We relate more in person. We pick up all the cues and signals which inform us. Our appreciation of technological advances now discovered should not obscure our inbuilt need for human touch. And as many begin their return to their workplaces, it’s useful to be reminded that as well as showing us the changes that we can make – it also has highlighted the value of that which should remain.
The big opportunity here is to engage with our people on how they now see the future of their work, what they have learned from the experience of the past 3 months and how that informs about getting the best out of them and their environment moving forward. Well-being now appears much more front and centre. Employees returning to the office may have more to say on how an organisation can help keep them happy and healthy , mentally and physically.