The New Normal?

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the lives of everyone on an international scale – so much so that we will undoubtedly be feeling its effects long after it has receded. With just over a month in lockdown in the UK and no signs of restrictions lifting anytime soon, most of us have had the free time to think about what is going to happen in the future. In this article, we look at what could potentially lie ahead…

Life imitating art

By now we have adjusted to balancing our work life in the home, getting used to slower internet speeds, testing our culinary skills, spending time with family and exhausting an endless library of film and television to keep us going through the day.

If there’s anything we’ve learnt from cinema, is that once the big evil is defeated, the life of the heroes are changed and they start work on a new equilibrium, one that is entirely changed from the what came before it. Much like the battle we face with the coronavirus, the questions remain as to how different our lives will be changed once we have established the ‘new normal’.

How will things be different?

However, real life is not as simple as Hollywood likes to play out. When restrictions are lifted, we are not going to go straight into throwing street parties and going en masse to the nearest Wetherspoons. The general consensus among officials seem to suggest that there will be a gradual lift of restrictions, with places like pubs, festivals and sporting events likely the last to be reopened. Many major sporting events, such as the Tokyo Olympics and Wimbledon have already been cancelled/postponed, so the sporting landscape for the remainder of the year will look very different.

Supermarkets are expected to keep implementing restrictions on store capacity, which could continue even into the Christmas months. One thing that hopefully remains a permanent fixture will be sanitisation stations for trolleys and baskets, as people are going to be more cautious of how quickly bacteria can spread. The need to reach for the hand sanitiser may not go away once the risks have diminished.

High streets will potentially see a spike in footfall as consumers anxiously wait to finally leave the confines of their homes. The convenience of shopping online will have worn off for most who have had to put up with waiting weeks just for the basic necessities. As the congestion eases for online services and with a looming economical recession, it is uncertain for how long the high streets will be celebrating before it is once again brought to a halt.

Business as usual?

Current government restrictions on movement mean that individuals should travel to work ‘only when they cannot work from home’, meaning that many businesses have had to quickly adapt to a remote workforce. This is likely to have been a big adjustment for both employers and employees alike.

A gradual lift on restrictions will mean that smaller businesses will be allowed to reopen, as long as employees are able to maintain a 2-metre distance. It will take longer for larger businesses to open and, even then, it will result in a major shift in office culture.

On returning to work, some of us will welcome the change of setting after being holed up in our makeshift offices for weeks on end. Others however may feel that working from home should be a more permanent fixture if they find themselves more productive in the domestic environment.

Remote working does have its advantages in reducing the operating cost of a large office space (not to mention saving employees a fortune on travel expenses) but will managers be willing to trust employees to work independently from home in the long-term? And will colleague relationships suffer in the long-term? There is lots to consider.

The future holds many uncertainties right now. With the UK government extending the lockdown for another three weeks, it seems that the battle is only just beginning. All we can guarantee is that there is no going back to the way things were before, and what lies ahead is the new normal.

About the author

Jessica joined RWA in 2018, having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Film Studies. Her role as a content designer involves developing new and engaging e-learning modules as well as assisting in the creation of articles for Insight. 

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