Corona Virus: The New Normal, Now, And Going Forward
When we see the word cloud at the end of the year, summarising all the most used phrases and words from 2020 “corona virus” will surely be the standout word from the year. The phrase “new normal” will also feature heavily as people try to imagine what life will be like after the pandemic is over, and what things will be like between now and then. It's likely that the “new normal” will be fluid in its definition, not a set of rules as such, more an umbrella phrase to describe the rapidly changing landscape of the world.
This flux of what constitutes normal and what's not normal (but may become so) poses a challenge for businesses and their customers. We have seen many businesses that have been able to adapt fairly rapidly to change their product and change their delivery method or completely change direction to helping their local community and this gives us all hope. Customers respond well to this, as they are in a new normal themselves, one where judgement and expectations have largely been suspended as we join together in the fight against corona virus.
There have been notable exceptions to this. Wetherspoons has been the target of a lot of criticism, levelled at Tim Martin for his remarks about pub closures before they were put in place and his treatment of staff afterwards.Virgin has also been the target of criticism for Richard Branson's claim that he needs a government bailout to pay his staff, so that he doesn't have to put his hands into his considerably well stocked coffers to pay his furloughed staff. Many people have said they will boycott these firms in the future, and there are many more businesses whose handling of the situation has been less than perfect.
We know from previous corporate botches that customers can be persuaded to return, if the company handles the situation well and makes amends for its shortcomings. Whether that will be the case for Virgin, Wetherspoons and Sports Direct remains to be seen.PR firm Edelman surveyed 12,000 people at the end of March and 65% said their patronage of a brand will rest on how they have handled the pandemic. 71% said businesses looking to put profits before people will lose their trust forever. These are big numbers, and may not reflect what will actually happen after the crisis is over, but it's a stark warning to businesses.
In the meantime, while we are still very much in the grip of this pandemic, we can see that certain trends are emerging.While there are reports of neighbours calling the police on each other if they dare go for a second run, and antisocial behaviour directed at NHS staff, there are also good stories. People raising funds to help the vulnerable, community networks providing services and support among peers, distilleries switching to making hand sanitiser to donate to the NHS; all these stories show the positive human side to the crisis. People are becoming more aware of their work colleagues as real people with a real life, now that everyone has seen each other's homes, pets and even children honing into view on video conferences. People are seeing the humanity of each other, the struggles and the triumphs and we hope this trend continues to pull people together, helping overcome some of the divides which have torn the country apart in the last few years.
Right now, we all have to keep that community spirit going, and try to retain as much normality as we can, even if that's at a physical distance from each other. Remote working has become the new normal, and this can continue into the future opening up the possibility of employment for people with disabilities and life-limiting health conditions. There are some great lessons we can learn from this to help create a better future for everyone.Together, we can create a new normal.
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