The world has experienced global change. Almost overnight, businesses, leaders, individuals and families have had to adapt - working from home, social distancing, homeschooling and self-isolation. And with no end in sight, we’re all starting to realize that life may not exactly return to normal. Instead, it seems we’re in the midst of actively designing a ‘new normal’.

So if this new normal is here to stay, it’s important that we stop and take notice. Here are five observations we’ve made over the last couple of months.

Written communication can be misunderstood.

Office conversations are now being had in quick, short form messages on digital platforms. The convenience factor is high, but it’s important to remember that tone can still be misconstrued. And just like social media, chat platforms potentially give people the opportunity to hide behind their words. Before you write it, stop and think. Would you actually say it that way if you were speaking?

Be conscious as you communicate with your team. Don’t fire off messages without consideration. And if you’re finding it hard to communicate effectively, check out some of these online courses by Magneto Communications

Take an agile but planned approach.

Businesses are in sprint mode. Behind the scenes they’re focusing on cutting costs, engaging their employees and retaining their customers. On the outside, they’re doing whatever they can to stay relevant. 

While exhilarating for some, this hive of activity can have detrimental effects on others. Each day is different, making it difficult for employees to manage their time and plan their work. It can add stress and anxiety to an already confusing work environment.

It might sound counterintuitive, but for the best results, slow down. Don’t simply exist on short term play. Create a sense of security by over-communicating and keeping the bigger picture visible for all your team to see. If you’re looking for a simple place to start, check out Employee Pulse, Local Measure’s pulse survey for measuring employee happiness. 

But what about leaders? They’re having to adapt too. They must communicate with their people, keep them engaged and understand social cues - all through the lens of a laptop screen. 

Leaders are learning too.

A lot of focus has been on employees - making sure they’re safe, suitably equipped to work from home and happy. But what about leaders? They’re having to adapt too. They must communicate with their people, keep them engaged and understand social cues - all through the lens of a laptop screen. 

There’s also the risk of meeting-itis. Finding the right balance of communication, team meetings and one-on-ones is tricky. It’s a whole new ball game particularly for leaders who previously thrived in an office environment.

If you’re finding this challenging as a leader, check out this recent webinar by Harvard Business Publishing - Leading Remote Teams Effectively.   

Screen fatigue is real.

In earlier times, attending a meeting would mean walking away from your computer, grabbing a tea or coffee and joining forces with your peers in a meeting room. Now, there is no change of scene. You simply transition from your email and working documents to a video conference platform. All housed on the same screen. You work a bit later because you no longer have to commute. And then in the evenings, you turn to another screen for some TV viewing or for socialising with your friends. In the morning, you meet your personal trainer on a zoom call and so it continues.

How do you break the cycle of screen fatigue? As a business could you implement email-free days? Encourage phone conversations instead? Enforce set lunch breaks? Or as an individual, could you take a walk around the block without your phone, spend your evenings playing board games or simply pick up a book instead. Without limitations in place, screen fatigue will impact business productivity and mental health.

It’s a buzzword paradise.

These are unprecedented times, full of uncertainty. We’re all in this together and we just have to ride out the storm. #lockdown #socialdistancing #iso

It’s too much. People want clear and concise messages. And they want to hear a real voice. Speak and write as plainly as possible. Buzzwords and acronyms don’t make you smarter. In fact, they just turn people off.

We’re not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm.

If this is the new normal or whether we meet halfway between what life is like now and what life used to be, the fact remains - we must adapt.

Look after yourself. Look after your people. And for one last COVID-19 saying, just remember... we’re not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm. #staysafe