What’s The New Normal? How Do Firms Prepare For It?
It’s been months now since the COVID-19 pandemic started in India. Well, four months and two weeks to be exact. Until now, no one is certain when and how will COVID-19 end.
That early morning walks, those carpool rides to work, those coffee breaks by the fire escapes stairs, those impromptu evening outings – We are missing the simplest pleasures of life, especially the ones that we thought we won’t miss. But, to be honest, it’s not fair of us to complain.
A lot has happened, a lot has changed – some of it was predictable and a lot of it hardly made sense. But in all the severity of the lockdown 5.0/unlock 1.0 rules and regulations, I see an opportunity. The opportunity to adapt to the new normal. And based on the resilience shown by people, businesses and the government in the past few months – I don’t think It will be all bad.
When the lockdown was first announced in India on 25 March 2020, we weren’t prepared. It took us longer than a while to decide what to do and how to keep our lives and jobs as usual. The modern technology and work from home policies sure made things easier for most of us. But there were some obvious challenges that were not accounted for, including:
- Inadequate communication
Communication is the key to success in the workplace. However, when everyone works from home, it becomes 5X harder to stay on the same page. Blame it one lack of in-person interactions or the use of inadequate communication tech – but the problem needs to be resolved before anything else.
- Mental health/depression
Long-term solitude or isolation can be a double-edged sword, especially when you are working from home. If you don’t live with anyone else, it’s important for you to talk to people and stay mentally healthy while getting your job done. And just as you can recognize your own mental health problems, be sensitive to such problems in your near and dear ones. For help, follow the WHO #HealthyATHome initiative.
- Too-long work hours
Businesses often fail to run like businesses when it’s employees are working from home, leading employees to feel micromanaged, overworked, and overwhelmed. Conrado Lamas, head of marketing at Signaturit says: “When you work from home, your office is where you live. So I’m constantly closing small pending tasks late at night before I go to bed or early in the morning when I really wanted to be reading the news”
- Emotional distancing
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a fear in people’s minds. Whether it is self-isolation, no physical contact, no travel, or social distancing – we have been doing everything to protect ourselves and our loved ones. But here’s something else we have been doing – showing lack of empathy and emotional distancing. We act too concerned about ourselves and seem not to care about those who just need our emotional support. And that doesn’t work too well in a WFH environment.
On a positive note, we’ve got a lot of experience in the matter now. Every business today knows what to do and how to do things the right way. There have been a lot of virtual discussions and debates to enlighten and empower small/medium/large businesses.
Here at Telebu, we hosted a LIVE webinar session to address the financial and survival strategies for MSMEs. Additionally, we had an open discussion about what’s the new normal for investment and business industry in India. Check out the major highlights of our webinar here.
Can’t take your mind off the above challenges? Do they seem too relatable to your new work from home reality?
Well, if that’s the case, I have some tips for you.
Below, I have laid out some easy ideas and hacks that will make your life a little less panicky and a lot more productive. Each idea here is tried and tested.
Our team at Telebu is no different than any other team in the world. Our concerns and challenges while working from home in lockdown are pretty much the same as yours.
And here how we maintain our serenity.
- We don’t look for reasons to connect
Being able to work from the comfort of your own home feels great. When you don’t leave your home for long stretches of time and most of your conversations in the day are about deadlines and targets, life can be extremely challenging – and lonely.
Here at Telebu, we understand the importance of staying connected. We have our own support network. Every domestic and overseas Telebu employee is connected via common social platforms and are free to share their needs, perspectives, and even concerns.
The idea here is to break the ice and make each other’s WFH experiences more pleasant. After all, we are all in this together!
- We stick to our office routine
Having a routine is important. Without it, your life can get too chaotic too soon.
Now, when we say routine, we are not necessarily referring to the old standard 9 to 5 office working hours. We are referring to the need of having a clear system in place for getting your work done in a timely manner and avoiding unnecessary overtime.
Nobody can or should work all day long. Working from home shouldn’t mean working 24/7 – so don’t do it!
Whether you are working from an office to working from home, there must be a structure in place. And more importantly, there must be a line between personal and professional like. Just like we have here at Telebu.
- We keep track of our work calls
In the time of a pandemic crisis, calls and conferences saved a lot of lives and livelihoods. But all this time spent on voice/video calls has its problems.
If you have been keeping up with the world of WFH, you have probably already heard or read about the problem of conferencing burnout. Well, the problem is real. Too many calls and conferences are psychologically and emotionally exhausting.
People are actually getting really tired of those long, unplanned conversations. Here at Telebu, we encourage employees to keep some amount of gaps between their calls and video meetings. This goes a long way towards avoiding fatigue from uninterrupted back-to-back calls and meetings.
- We keep the buzz of the office alive
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” – and we don’t want that.
Here at Telebu, we find fun and creative ways to keep the office spirit alive, even at home. From virtual coffee breaks to taking on trendy challenges to having online fitness sessions together – we have tried some great ideas so far and the best is yet to come.
Looking back to the events that have happened (and are still happening) in India and around the world, the new normal I see for at least the next few months is contactless workspaces, work from home, and virtual meeting rooms.
Even though offices have been given a green flag for opening at 100% capacity, it doesn’t feel right. The way workspaces have and will change in the near future is a bit surreal. Starting from June, we, at Telebu, decided to have once a week gathering (optional, not mandatory) for individual departments on individual days. And I know I might be overstating, but, it feels like the soul of the workplace has gone missing.
Workplaces were about hustle-bustle, laughter, chatters, fist bumps, and a lot of fun group activities. Today, they are all about sanitizing stations, separated seats, elbow knocks, and NO group activities at all. The best that we can do in this situation is stick together, take each day as it comes, be positive, be victorious, and step into a new world.
Through this post, I have tried to make it easier for employees as well as employers to understand and adapt to the new reality. I hope I helped!
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Oh.. also, don’t forget to share your views and expectations with workplaces and WFH policies post COVID-19.
What kind of new normal are you hoping for? Is it similar to the one that I have mentioned here? Share your thoughts in the comments below!