What Will Become the “Regular” Normal?

With many states rolling out plans to re-open their economies, you have to wonder what will become the “regular” normal one year from now. Will the “new” normal be the “regular” normal? That depends on what you’re talking about. 

Online learning won’t last forever

We know that online learning won’t last forever. At this time next year, the kids should all be back in school, much to the relief of parents who are struggling to balance having their kids at home all day and trying to complete their own projects while working from home. 

Curbside pickup for takeout is super convenient and easy

The restaurants and shops should be fully open for business again by next spring too. Although curbside pickup and food delivery are quick and convenient and options for which I am very grateful during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-restaurant dining is impossible, I am really looking forward to once again being able to spend a couple of hours socializing with friends in a restaurant.   

But the business world . . . well, that’s the big unknown. 

Many new sectors have embraced telecommuting

Although many sectors have embraced telecommuting to some degree or another over the past couple of decades, most companies have not made working from home an option for the majority of their employees—until now, that is. As social distancing and “stay at home” decrees have become widespread, many businesses have had no choice but to permit their workforces to telecommute. 

And so far, it’s been working. Sure, there are occasional glitches—slow Internet speeds, conference calls that are interrupted by barking dogs in the background or children who need their parents’ help with something, etc. But people have been figuring out to handle those curveballs and have even learned how to take crazy Zoom backgrounds and barking dogs in stride.  

Once the pandemic subsides and people can return to their offices, will they?  

I think that a lot of companies are realizing that telecommuting can work really well when the right technology and processes are in place. If people can get their work done just as well (or better!) from home than from the office—especially once their kids are back at school and not underfoot—why wouldn’t companies continue to let them do it? Once workers get a taste of what working remotely is really like, those who thrive in such an environment may push to have that arrangement included in the next contracts they sign. Organizations may have to be flexible on that point if they want to attract (or keep) top talent. 

The nation’s involuntary work-from-home experiment is proving that telecommuting actually can work in many cases for which it was not previously considered an option. It remains to be seen if the post-pandemic business world returns to the predominantly “in the office” structure or if telecommuting will become the “new” normal.

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