What Will the New Normal Look Like?
At some point this trial we are all experiencing will be behind us and we can get back to normal. What will that look like? What will be, and what should be different?
Distributed Work Will Increase
Most everyone who is working these days is doing so remotely. The old expression “24/7 Work” has been replaced by 24/7 Work-Family-Life. It’s all happening at once, all the time. People are learning to cope, forming new patterns and adopting new work strategies. When normalcy returns some of us will be happy to get back into the office, others will opt for their new work styles. Business will need to adapt, including widening the set of allowable technology platforms to enable productivity across an amorphous workscape.
Economic Recovery Will Have A Long Tail
The sheer scale of disruption and the strategies deployed to sustain society through the experience will force a protracted comeback. That does not mean that it will necessarily be severe, it does mean that we have a long road ahead of us. Government, business, and families will be wise to take a measured approach, planning for the long term while acting with a now focus and shepherding resources for the right moment or priority. We will not be able to afford everything that needs doing, so we must make sure we do the things that matter most.
There Will be New Opportunities
This disruption is deeper than the 2008 financial collapse. Virtually every industry and facet of life is affected – it’s personal. Out of the disruption, however, new business strategies and alliances, new technologies, and new networks will evolve. Like a forest regenerating itself after a fire, new growth will emerge and adapt to the new landscape in ways the old could not have. This is not to say the event is a desired path to reinvention, but it is a path. Many will see visions of what can now be and act with energy to reinvent and create.
We Should Expect More
Not to be pessimistic, but it seems the frequency and scale of large disruptions is increasing. The terrorist attacks and long-lasting wars since 2000, Hurricanes and Tsunami’s, global financial collapse, and now this. That is just in the last twenty years. The new millennium has not started well for the occupants of spaceship Earth. So, we should not be surprised. We must be prepared.
We Should Invest in Resiliency
As we now know experientially, resiliency matters. We should prioritize improving the depth and robustness of systems and capacities across all areas of society. Governments that acted slowly because they are rules bound must become agile and nimble, knowing when and how to morph protocols in the interest of timely intervention. Those which acted clumsily because they do not have needed capabilities must address the issue through competency and alliance. In all cases, scenario planning should inform strategy and contingency, and hard investment choices should be biased towards preparing for and sustaining society through the next crisis of national or global scale. This isn’t just a political or economic crisis. People are dying, lots of people. To experience this and be unprepared for the next will be unconscionable.
We Should Look in the Mirror
Here in the U.S., but I suspect elsewhere as well, we should take a cold, hard look at national institutions and systems. This is not about politics. It is about the very lives and quality of life of our citizens. We will always disagree on matters, some of them important; but we must regain a sense of civility, honor, and appreciation for those we govern with and serve. Weaponizing every factoid and demonizing those we co-labor with in the name of winning is devisive and destructive. That’s where we have been for many years. How is it working out for us? Remember, we are in this together, for real.
We Should Look Up
I am a person of faith and it sustains me as nothing else can. This was not always so but it is now, thank God. I know what life was like then and I know what it is like now, even in the midst of this. The peace that fills me comes direct from my Creator’s heart. I know Him, and He knows me. I am no longer left to my own devices, plans, and schemes; I rest in the shadow of His wings, and it is a good place to be. Even now.