There has been a lot of talk about the “new normal” but few, if any of us, truly know what this is likely to be. Nonetheless it is worth considering what it could be and how you could benefit from it.
One of the interesting aspects of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns is that a number of pre-existing trends have simply accelerated such as working from home, increased use of video meetings, acceptance of digital documents and digital signatures to name but a few.
The New Normal? is a new 7-country report from More In Common drawing from a survey of 14,000 people on the impacts of COVID-19 on trust, social cohesion, democracy and expectations for an uncertain future in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Poland.
The pandemic has created a new sense of togetherness, making us more aware of our shared humanity and of the living conditions of others. At the same time, many worry about their societies becoming more divided in the future.
Many feel that COVID-19 has changed us into more caring societies, although the experience of COVID-19 in the US is different – reflecting deep polarisation, anxiety for the future and dismay at the government’s mismanagement.
Looking at populations through the lens of More in Common’s national segmentations, the disengaged or ‘Invisibles’ segments have felt more isolation, loneliness and lack of support throughout COVID-19 – an early warning signal about the vulnerabilities that authoritarian populists might exploit as the economic crisis deepens.
In most countries, nine out of ten people are respecting public health guidelines on face masks and social distancing. But in all countries, public perceptions exaggerate the extent to which others are not following the rules, with the French and British public in particular holding wildly inaccurate views. These misperceptions are contributing to an erosion of social trust.
People in the US, UK, France and Poland feel deeply disappointed by their government’s handling of the crisis so far, while Germans and Dutch feel pride.
As a result, confidence in the government’s ability to tackle future crises is low everywhere except for Germany and the Netherlands.
The pandemic has revived a spirit of localism, with greater pride in local communities and less erosion of trust in local governments.
While there is disappointment with the EU’s handling of COVID-19, majorities still see its relevance and support European and multilateral cooperation over ‘go-it-alone’ approaches — including taking on common debt within the EU.
In countries hardest hit by the pandemic, people have hopes for profound change but few, aside from Americans, believe that change is likely to happen.
The changes to our lives since the onset of the pandemic have re-connected people with nature, and re-awakened people to the way human activity affects the environment. This has translated into climate issues becoming more salient, reflected in broad support for policies like a Green Deal.
People see economic recovery programs as an opportunity to shift norms on climate, tax and wages.
Whilst many people think there will be a new normal others believe we will pretty much return to the old normal.
Personally I am of the view that the pandemic has mostly accelerated existing trends that were already happening which is one of the more positive sides to the lack of personal freedom we have all encountered over the last 18 months. This is where the opportunities lie.
If you are an employee and you are office-based then you now have the opportunity to work anywhere in the world as long as your existing or future employer accepts you working from home full-time.
Equally if you dislike commuting you can work from home most, if not all, of the time.
Fed up with having to use the post and signing documents? Just use e-signatures and email documents instead.
Dislike long-distance travel, including overseas, for meetings. Just make a video call instead.
Running your own business from an office? Why not close it and invite all of your staff to work from home instead.
Thinking of starting your own business? Why not make it an online one? It has become easier than ever to run such a business.
Retired? Not a problem. Why not join more local groups and organisations? You will be more welcome than ever as we embrace a return to social activities invigorated.
Student? Welcome the opportunity to do more online learning as it will free up your time travelling to and attending lectures. It will enable you to learn when it suits you rather than by following a strict timetable.
The opportunities are many and varied. You just have to take advantage of the ones that suit you best. You know it makes sense.
*The contents of this blog are for information purposes only and do not constitute individual advice. The blog is based on my own observations and opinions.