The state of being "normal" is very mundane. It is assumed rather than pursued or looked upon with interest. However, this normal state binds everything together, keeps things moving and provides a sense of certainty.
The much-talked-about term "new normal", is, hence, very insidious in its impact on our psyche as it is forcing us to rewire our conscious and subconscious mind to reach a state of normalcy.
Talking from the perspective of how the global business is structured, this new normal is compelling business leaders around the world to envision a new supply chain model that will rely more on in-country production base, rather than sourcing it from abroad. In this context, the pandemic is only going to exacerbate the process of decoupling of the global supply chain.
When the macro business environment is on the mend, it is only natural to see the micro issues like workplace behaviour also evolve into a new normal. In this article, I would highlight some behavioural changes that we can expect to see in our workplaces in the coming days.
"Seeing is believing" would be changed to "trusting is believing". We would get habituated with digital lives at both personal and professional fronts where one will be buying cloths without seeing it, ordering food without tasting it, hiring workers without meeting in person, and interacting with people without experiencing their emotional expression. So, the new normal will be built on "trust".
The idea of "there is no plan B" might be replaced by "cater for uncertainty". The daring attitude towards result achievement by the people with aggression might fall flat seeing how uncertainty can diminish a strong business plan. Therefore, preparing for a plan B even before a plan A would be the "new normal" with a firm focus on "business continuity management".
The expectation of "F2F training" will be replaced by "online learning intervention". Peoples' attitudes towards learning will change as they will find value in digital training. Receiving world-class in short time and spending less money will become the new trend as travels will be restricted. Therefore, the learning enthusiasm will go up and it will emerge as a leisure time activity for young minds.
"Shaking hands will be replaced by "bowing or nodding". The shaking of hands to encourage someone for a job well-done, or in case of seeing someone after ages, or while celebrating the success of team-mates will no longer be entertained. We might see people bowing or nodding their heads to each other instead of hand-shakes in these situations.
"Fixed office timing" would be replaced by "roaster or flexi hour". To avoid gathering at the entrance of an office, offices will be practising "flexible office hour" as a new normal. It would also ensure the physical distancing during the rush period of commute to and from the office. Attending office in segmented percentage might also become a widely accepted office norm.
"Attending someone during sicknesses" would be replaced by "calling for support only". We stand by our colleagues or friends at workplaces if they fall sick. We sit beside them, talk to them to give them comfort. However, in the new normal, people will call out for support right away. Hence demonstration of fellow feelings and compassionate behaviour will change in the new normal.
Managing "mental health" would become as important as maintaining "physical health". As the regular conduct at office and home would get disrupted in the post-pandemic situation, hence managing mental health would become critical to keep the mind stable at work. Mental well-being will be pursued just like the physical well-being in this context.
"Social distancing" will become "physical distancing". The "social distancing" will be very soon be rephrased as "physical distancing", since we do not create social distance - rather a physical distance - to avoid the probable contamination. Therefore, maintaining physical distancing will get more traction going forward. In fact, "physical distancing" would get widely accepted as gentlemanly conduct or behaviour.
Adapting to the new normal in the workplaces is going to strain our psychological muscles. In this new normal, we need to collaborate even more intimately in the workplace. We need to be a lot more emotionally engaged with each other to overcome the stressfulness of this new normal. Let us do it together one more time, shall we!
The author is the chief human resource officer at Robi.