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Herman Trend Alert: Normal 2.0 – Part 2 – Safety First

Companies need to quickly regain productivity and competitiveness – without compromising health and safety.


Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at


I am always looking for new resources, intelligent insights to share with you, to give you original perspectives, hope, and help in this challenging time. In my quest, in the past, I have found the publication from Steelcase to be particularly helpful. Their most recent report is titled “Navigating What’s Next: The Post-COVID Workplace.” This Herman Trend Alert includes the highlights of that most recent report.

First and foremost . . .
Really reopening the economy will test every company. Each will need to quickly regain productivity and competitiveness – without compromising health and safety. Like Steelcase, I expect competition to be intense in almost every industry. Consumers and some businesses will have fewer discretionary dollars. The most successful companies will be those that take action to understand their customers’ needs, partner with their customers to identify multiple solutions, develop prototypes, produce quickly to get new ideas to market, and finally, make the risky decisions to invest at scale. Wise companies will use digital transformation initiatives to accelerate and redefine every element in their value chains. Companies’ cultures will require laser focus on innovation, agility, and careful risk-taking.


No Employee Is Coming Back Without Feeling Safe
To attract employees back into congregate workspaces, companies must focus on their feeling both emotionally and physically secure in their safety. This security must not only include infection control, but also businesses must take steps to modify workplaces in a way that does not weaken community, creativity, productivity or other keys to winning, but offers physical distancing and comfortable, safe spaces. Rapid test results also will help. One important consideration is the cleanability of all of the surfaces in your office.

One Technical Consideration: Materials Cleanability
Cleanability of the surfaces in the office is more important than ever before. It is possible to make intentional decisions that will support a healthy, highly cleanable, and still beautiful environment. Some high-performing textiles are even so colorfast that they may be cleaned with a bleach solution.


Preparing for the Unknown
When the economy shut down, every company was forced to quickly shift to lockdown to keep their business going. Established teams had to rapidly learn to use video conferencing for meetings; individuals had to use email and other digital solutions to sustain existing processes. We all had to respond swiftly to this novel coronavirus and its consequences. Now we face a future full of additional unknowns.

Vaccines may not be the Panacea We Were Hoping For
When I heard Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the United States Centers for Disease Control, say in a congressional hearing that he trusted masks more than a vaccine that could be as low as 60 percent effective, I immediately understood that my previous statement had been correct. What I said in one of my early COVID-19 Herman Trend Alerts was that in the past, flu vaccines have been up to 40 percent effective. Since this novel coronavirus is related to the flu, the vaccine may not be as effective as those we are accustomed to having for Polio, Measles, or Tetanus. The bottom line is that face coverings are here to stay for our foreseeable future. Here is the good news: we, as human beings, can adapt. We can learn to be comfortable in masks. Innovators will create more comfortable masks. May they work their magic very soon!


To read the entire Steelcase report, go here. For a full list of their Safety Guidelines, see page 27 of the report.

© Copyright 1998-2020 by The Herman Group, Inc. — reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From “The Herman Trend Alert,” by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc.” 



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