You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade to a more recent browser for a better experience.

The New Normal

By Bob Priest-Heck

As with many people, I’ve found myself wondering, when we come out on the other side of this pandemic, what will the new normal look like? Too much hardship and heartache has been released into the world to be a Pollyanna about this. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look for good wherever we can find it. And here’s what I’m seeing — there’s a humanizing influence that the shared hardship is having on people who never took time to realize how fortunate they are. And how connected we are.

Empathy is up.

Our news feeds are becoming more flooded with stories of people just stepping it up and trying to help where they can. We’re counting our blessings and learning and practicing empathy. I see and hear about people offering to help strangers distribute food, make masks for healthcare workers, stream free educational programs for all ages, and the list goes on.

Our connectivity bonds.

My friends and colleagues continue to express genuine concern for our company, our industry, and the economy. From this, I realized that I am craving those connections, and I am grateful to receive a virtual version of that online through those who respond to my blog, send me notes, and ask how I am doing. Six weeks ago, I took for granted that I could see people whenever I wanted to; now I’m really looking forward to making the next industry event a special occasion — a reunion celebration, if you will.

Air pollution is down.

In China, experts estimate that emissions over the past month have been about 25% lower than normal. Similar things are happening in Italy. Possibly in the U.S. Yes, we could offset this by other homebound carbon-consumption behavior. And while the idled factories and cars will no doubt return to their carbon-emitting ways, it’s also possible that some good habits could become permanent. After enjoying a few smog-free days, people might feel motivated to collaborate on sustainable solutions. Those who started using bicycles instead of Ubers or cabs for social distancing could stick with the habit. Harried office workers who are now telecommuting might discover the joy of just going for a walk at lunch, maybe even make it part of their routine. Companies realizing that not every business meeting has to happen face-to-face could be more lenient about work-at-home situations and teleconferencing.

Healthful habits are up.

Every flu season we are reminded by medical professionals to wash our hands scrupulously. We’ve never taken it seriously — until now. If we have finally developed a lifetime habit of hand washing — and are raising a new generation for whom this is standard operating procedure — think of how many flu bugs and cold viruses will be thwarted going forward.

In the “old normal,” most people I talked to were feeling sleep deprived. Operating without sleep is dangerous, and there are so many studies linking sleep deprivation to impaired learning and memory. Today, while our work life is shifted to work-at-home life, it’s a chance to reboot our weary brains. This means we can be more intentional about how we use our brains in the new normal. People whose calendars are usually filled with work, travel, school functions, and general socializing are finding time learn something new, play games with their kids, practice a musical instrument, rediscover abandoned hobbies, write actual snail-mail, and even re-read a favorite novel.

The pandemic is awful. The new normal doesn’t have to be.

Read next

The 8 Questions to Ask Before You Go Hybrid For Your Next Event Best Practices

What hybrid really means, and what you need to know to get started

Virtual Event Lessons for Healthcare and All Industries Best Practices

Seven can-do cures for effective engagement

Unplanned Obsolescence: Essentials of Growth For the New Year Inspiration

Relevance is the outcome of choices and actions

Inside LIVE: Episode 13, Insight 2 - Microsoft [Exploring the digital transformation] Video

How Microsoft has experimented its way to digital event evolution

Inside LIVE: Episode 13, Insight 1 - Microsoft: The Digital Core of the Future Video

Why Microsoft believes digital will continue to be at the center of events

Inside LIVE: Episode 13, Full Video - Microsoft: Mastering Events in the Digital World Video

Our 2020 Year-End Special! How the team at Microsoft has transformed its digital events

Back to Top