13 Jun Do You Want to Go Back to Normal?
This week I want to ask an important question: When the COVID-19 crisis abates, do you want to go back to the old normal? That question has been on my mind since I saw a survey in the UK that showed only one in ten Brits (9%) said they wanted to go back to the way things were.
Now, of course, there are some things we all want to return to normal: We want to be free from fear of getting sick, we want to visit our family and friends, we want the economy to improve and we want to travel again. But, at a deeper level, do we really want to just go back?
The UK study showed that people are more intentional about reaching out to family and friends, feel closer to their community, are enjoying eating at home, and they notice the environment is better. A majority (54%) said they planned to make lifestyle changes going forward.
This mirrored the results of a fatherhood study we just conducted for The Men’s Initiative at The University of British Columbia, where I am a faculty member. We conducted focus groups with fathers to discover their experience being a parent during COVID-19. The vast majority of fathers feel closer to their children, feel more valued as dads, and are experiencing more family time, including meals together. More than half of them said they did not want to just go back to the same old: time starved, work ‘til you drop, overscheduled family life they had before the pandemic. Many noticed they were working less, spending less, and driving less – and they liked it!
Business is Also Experiencing a New Normal
My clients have also reported ways the pandemic has transformed the way they operate, and how these changes will improve their future work lives. They have discovered that a great deal more can be accomplished virtually than they ever thought possible, have discovered that many people can work productively at home (and like it), and report feeling even more connected as a team and have forged new connections with their customers as they work hard to understand their needs.
Clients are also telling me that they are accomplishing things at speeds that seemed impossible. One insurance industry client told me they achieved an entire digital transformation of their business in less than three weeks, something they were told would take two years previously. Shorn of bureaucracy with a new sense of urgency, they were able to get things done- and fast!
Society Is Also Shifting
The sense that the old normal wasn’t working is also being experienced throughout society. People around the world have noticed that nature is thriving while we shut down and they also realize that we were poorly prepared for this crisis. Businesses are doubling down on commitments to tackle climate change now- the next crisis in waiting.
The pandemic has also put a spotlight on the inequality in our economy. While some had the privilege of “sheltering in place,” others were unable to pay the rent and had to go to work risking their lives or had their jobs lost overnight. The video of George Floyd dying with the knee of a police officer on his neck in Minneapolis has ignited an outcry for justice across the globe and pressured CEOs and companies to take a bolder stand on social issues. Do we really want to go back to the same unequal, unjust and nature destroying normal?
Some Powerful Questions to Ask Yourself
Now is the time to ask yourself three important questions
- What have you noticed about your personal life during COVID that you want to keep when things go back to normal?
- What shifts have you noticed in your team or business that you want to maintain when the virus recedes?
- What have you noticed about society that you want to help fight to make different going forward?
Transition is a time when many of us ask these kinds of questions. As the old saying goes “don’t let a good crisis go to waste!”
For me, here are three things that stand out:
- I want a more local life with more spaciousness in my time when this is over
- I want to continue to have major impact in the virtual world in my business without having to fly all over the place and I want to be focused on the important not just the urgent in my business
- I want to work even harder for a more equitable and sustainable world