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Four Ways A New Virus Will Disrupt Our Lives For Good

Why our future new normal will be more sustainable.

I like to plan: my holidays, my job, my life. “I love it when a plan comes together” as if I were part of the iconic A-Team. However, life brings us surprises. I lost my job during the economic crisis in Spain in 2011. In the beginning, I was shocked. Changes make us go out of our comfort zone. I moved to Germany and realized that I had had much better opportunities than if I had stayed back home even without a crisis. Future of Work is also disruptive, and millions of jobs will be displaced. But at the same time, many more fulfilling careers are emerging, where a lot of diverse talent is needed. We need to be ready to be bold, creative and make the best out of these disruptions. The more significant the disruption, the more we learn.

These days we are living a new big disruption which is making history. Our focus is the security and the contention of the Covid-19 now, and all our efforts have to prioritize following the advice from the WHO and the instructions from local governments to keep ourselves and our community safe. I am confined at home, with small kids, and I struggle as I have no idea when I will see my family in Spain again. While I am unsettled and my life is disrupted, I take some time to reflect and think how this disruption can bring new purpose long-term. Exceptional disruptions test new scenarios, prove hypotheses and change habits.

Our interactions are disrupted. We need to be virtual now. Organisations around the world are sending their employees to work from home, while universities and schools are offering distance learning. The traditional way of working or studying is challenged. Social distancing is our new way of interacting.

These are four ways this virus is disrupting us for good:

1 – Our planet is breathing again. We knew that telecommuting helps organisations to cut their carbon footprint. Now we have satellite images with evidence of the reduction of pollution after the coronavirus outbreak in China or Europe, partly because of the travel bans and a decrease of business travel. It is being proven that many meetings can happen virtually and bring the same outcomes. Many organizations had the technology ready, but they did not have the culture ready. Others are testing for first-time video conferencing solutions. Many events are being held virtually for the first time and we see that it works. Face to face is not essential anymore for many jobs. Additionally, with so many of us working from home, there is also a greater understanding of the need for virtual etiquette. Social media is now full of tricks to have more inclusive meetings and work remotely. From now on, people will know how to meet virtually better and companies will be ready. In our future new normal, we expect a reduction in business travel which will help our environment.

2 – There will be more sustainable communities. Virtual collaboration can be the basis for a more sustainable society. If remote work or learning is possible and available, work or studies will no longer be our main reason to live in a specific place. It will be easier to choose where we want our home. There will be more opportunities for those living in rural areas who will not need to migrate, and we would have more liveable cities. Sustainability is boosted thanks to the positive impact on local communities. Additionally, this crisis is bringing us closer to our immediate neighbours, no matter in which community we are in. There are movements around the world of people clapping and singing from their homes each night. Solidarity is spreading and there are groups of neighbours bringing supplies to elderly people or other vulnerable groups. Our future new normal brings stronger and more liveable communities.

3. The digital business will bring more flexibility, efficiency and inclusivity. Businesses do not like uncertainty, and for now, this situation is hard. However, looking mid-term, the future is digital and the organizations are adapting quickly to new ways of working and learning. Offering remote access results in direct savings in their own infrastructure and premises. Additionally, it helps to attract and retain top talent no matter where they are. Indeed, having employees in different locations promotes a diverse way of thinking and working, which sparks new ideas. Engaged employees who feel trusted and can work virtually where they want, are also more efficient. We are struggling now, but our future new normal business models will be more resilient and inclusive.

4. We will feel more fulfilled thanks to our new perspective in life. We will enjoy more each moment together. We are learning to slow down and to bond in a new way with our families. Organizations are offering flexible working conditions which will stay.  Time savings in commuting and virtual flexible working conditions give us better work-life balance and make us happier. There is also a much bigger understanding of the difficulties of taking care of your relatives. Coronavirus will be under control at one point, and we will be more supportive and inclusive with the workers who need to take care of their relatives in the future because we all understand better how stressful it can be. These new habits will have a positive impact. We are also realizing that one day we can be in a safe privileged country and the next our passport is not welcome anywhere. Coronavirus does not understand our established privileges and borders. It is humanity against the virus. This wake-up call brings all of us together and has triggered a new wave of solidarity.  

In conclusion, the future new normal will be more sustainable in its three dimensions (environmental, social, economic) and our new version of ourselves will hold new values. What other positive impact do you believe this disruption will have?

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

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