While most of the talk for the past 2 months has been negative, I have started to realise a change.
I have started hearing people talking about what they are going to miss when the lockdown is over. I have heard people expressing anxiety about things returning to “normal” and wondering how they are going to cope.
Are we humans not the strangest kind? Is this a sign of how quickly we actually adapt to things or is it a sign of fear of change? I suggest that it is a combination of both.
Although change can be scary and can lead to us working to avoid it at all costs, often to our own detriment, when forced upon us we actually do adapt.
Think of the abused wife whose husband leaves her and she finds new love, or the disgruntled employee who is retrenched and starts their own business. Left to our own devices, we may choose to stay in our unhappy worlds, but when forced out of it, things improve.
So seven weeks ago we were forced into a national lockdown, which for many meant having to stop working or having to move our “office” to our home. For everyone it meant not being able to go about our usual activities such as shopping, exercising, playing sport, and socializing with family and friends. For some it meant having to reconsider long-term habits – but don’t get me started on that topic… suffice to say, I’m with Tito on this one!
Overall, people struggled to adapt to this sudden loss of freedom to do as we pleased, with whomever we pleased, whenever it pleased us.
What has happened between 26 March and 14 May 2020? Well, people have grown accustomed to things that they had never before entertained as “options” in their lives. Such things include the following:
- Less commuting, often considered to be “time wasted”.
- More relaxed dress codes.
- Time to develop a new hobby.
- More family time.
- More autonomy.
- Using information technology more efficiently.
- Less social pressure.
- Getting to know our homes better.
- Fuel and entertainment savings.
And the list probably goes on…
Now as a degree of “normality” is starting to return, people are not sure if they want to go back to how things used to be. Sure, everyone wants to be rid of the deadly virus and feel safe in our communities again, but we don’t necessarily want to give up what has in fact been gained by the crisis.
I guess there is some truth in the saying that every cloud has a silver lining.
For employers, the management of the changes back in March are now going to have to be repeated in reverse. And believe me, there are going to be a lot of people who will resist returning to the “old normal” – and why not, if the lockdown has been working for them and for their employer?
Why spend 2 hours a day in traffic if you can do the same job at home as you do in the office? Why work from 8 to 5 when you are more effective from 6 to 3? I think one of the reasons that this way of working has been resisted for so long (and which may not necessarily be admitted by employers) revolves around control: the need to see employees doing their job, possibly stemming from a lack of trust that they will remain as productive when at home. I expect that this is something that ought to be easily measurable.
What has happened in our world over the past four months is going to forever change the way people work and I think that this could well be a good thing for those that are able to adapt. In my own line of work I find myself wondering who is going to want to attend a workshop at a conference centre requiring a day out of the office (or home) when they can attend something similar online that occupies only half a day? I suspect there will still be a place for outside functions but less so than before. We are social creatures and the less-regular attending workshops, conferences, seminars, etc. will continue to provide a platform for industry-related social interaction and networking. However, I do fear for the future profitability of the venues that provide these opportunities.
Finally, the only thing we all know about the future at this stage is that no-one really knows how things are going to pan out. The first and most important thing remains getting this deadly viral pandemic under control.
After that, let’s see what happens… it’s surely going to be an interesting journey, and in the meantime, I am going to continue walking my poodles and riding my bike between 06.00 and 09.00.
Take care everyone.