Are you trying to get back to normal or are you adapting to a new normal?
I was speaking to a thought leader from Google recently and she reminded me of an important dynamic. She said it takes 66 days to form a new habit. We have been in these quite different times for more than 80 days, so there are new habits that are forming. This is an active dynamic process, not just a flip of the switch into this new world. This is important because it is the new habits that will drive and support the argument of a “new normal” (not just getting back to normal).
So, what are some of these new habit themes?
Working Remotely: I know many leaders are grappling with the notion of team members continuing to work remotely rather than coming back into the office. I use the term remote rather than “at home” because working remotely is about not being in the office together physically, not just being at home with the kids. I know many business owners don’t see 100 percent of the productivity today with working remotely but this concept is not new to business, and it is possible to be as or more productive than in-office work. There are a couple of key themes to consider.
1) It takes time… Most have been working in a traditional manner for more than 20 years so it may take six to 12 months to really get this remote dance down.
2) Discussing remote work needs to be a conversation with your team, not a policy from above. People are processing, and continue to process, the last few months differently. The more dialog you can have with everyone about remote working vs. being in the office, the more likely you are to find a happy and successful outcome.
Going Virtual: People buy from people, but this can be done virtually, not just face to face. Many are seeing clients more open today about meeting in person, and they are interpreting willingness as a preference. I believe this is more about client ignorance. It was not that long ago consumers would go to the mall for Christmas gifts. Today, most holiday shopping is done online. Consumers learned how, and came to understand the benefit of the online process, and now they need to experience the same benefit in buying/making remodeling selections virtually, and it will become a new habit. Going virtual requires new skills and practice to be able to feel comfortable and more effective. While you or your team may have strong technology acumen, going virtual is a different sport. Going virtual is a different language that requires practice. As a new habit it will save time and increase effectiveness for your clients, your team and your personal life.
Balance: We have talked about work/life balance for many years. Unfortunately, before COVID, this was moving in the wrong direction. By pushing the pause button for 80-plus days, we have learned to get outside more, to slow down a little, to try new (or old) hobbies or activities. We have turned our days upside down with work and home life and can now see a new balance that can be healthy and positive. While a typical day will continue to evolve, I believe it will not be the 9am-to-5pm schedule of the past. I think days may begin earlier or later but will include many of the other activities that give us balance. This will no longer be a New Year’s resolution that vaporized after two weeks. New habits are forming, and we need to have more empathy for how these have developed.
While we continue to have a tremendous amount of uncertainty, I am confident there will be new habits. I would encourage you to fertilize the good ones and take them to even a higher level. As horrific as the COVID crisis has been, “bumpy roads can lead to beautiful places.”