Many have asked me, “When do you think we will be back to ‘normal’?” The hard truth is that we will never be back to the previous normal, but rather, we will move into a Normal 2.0 – an evolved new version of normal with masks and physical distancing, testing and contact tracing becoming the rule to respond to the string of epidemics and pandemics to come.
Hard-Hit Small Business Will Be Slow to Recover
Barring a major infusion of cash from government, a substantial percentage of retail stores and restaurants will not re-open. Retail stores that counted on foot traffic will be slow to recover – if they are ever able to reopen. Restaurants need to look at reinventing themselves to be agile to respond to changing external environments – offering take out, meal plans and other products to pick up the slack. Concierge services, especially those serving affluent seniors will thrive.
Working from Home or Congregate Workplaces
Many more of us will be working from home than we did before. For some of us, it will be a godsend; we can work around children’s schedules, shopping and other responsibilities. For others of us who are less disciplined, it will be a major challenge to put aside the distractions of home, children, pets, and other things to get the work done. Employers will recognize those challenges and provide Work From Home coaches for those who need them. Those of us who do go back to congregate workspaces will either be physically distanced or working part-time schedules so that fewer of us are in the workplace at the same time. Like the schools, we may have A-days and B-days in our workplaces.
Organizations Will Need to be Agile
To respond to fast-changing markets and health and social challenges organizations will need to be agile. With distributed workforces, sometimes worldwide, leaders will need to have superior communications skills. As we move into the future, organizations will discover that cross-functional working groups will provide the best response to company and customer problems by capitalizing on the members’ diverse perspectives and abilities.
Technology will Help Us
We will use technology to travel virtually as well as to collaborate with colleagues and get work done. There has been exponential growth in the category of collaboration apps for a reason. We need to be able to work together.
I’ve Just Scratched the Surface on Normal 2.0
As we approach the 200,000 mark of people lost in the United States, I recently wrote an op-ed because I wanted to take some action on a national level to let people know that we futurists could have helped avoid much of the death and devastation that this country has experienced. If you would like to see it, drop me a note at [email protected].
Next Week: Normal 2.0 – Part 2
Our Herman Trend Alert next week will cover more of after COVID-19 Normal 2.0, including highlights from the new extensive report from Steelcase.
Special thanks to Ann Price, Steve Epner, Mark Emmer, and the Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies for their insights which informed this Alert and will inform more to come.
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