You have certainly heard the phrase “the new normal” when it comes to describing life now and moving forward, post-COVID. It describes the feeling there are some things that seem to have been fundamentally altered over the past few months. Additionally, it’s hard to imagine these things going back to the way they were before.
There’s a sense of finality to that term that doesn’t take the (hopefully soon) development of a working vaccine into account. Until a vaccine is finally developed, there’s really no way to predict a new normal in the long-term. So, for the purposes of this post, assume that “new normal” actually refers to “new normal for now.”
What are some of things that, for good or bad, we see hanging on for a while?
Working and Communicating Remotely
Can you even imagine how things might have gone if we didn’t have technology available to allow more people than ever before to work from home? Or kids to attend school? The blossoming of video chat applications and widespread WiFi and other internet access technology has allowed people to work, learn, and talk together even when they’re apart.
Yes, there’s something to be said for direct, daily human contact. But when it comes to effective work, it appears that being in-office is not absolutely essential for good productivity. Plus, there’s the bonus of simply minimizing contact to limit disease transmission. So, while companies may start to have employees trickle back into the office, don’t expect a big rush back.
In short, the stigma of working from home has been pretty well destroyed. This may be good news for some who have a dedicated space and like being at home. For others, if you haven’t already, take some time–and at least a small corner in some room–to make a dedicated workspace for yourself and/or your school-age children.
Few to No Large Gatherings
This is one of the new normal aspects that has people especially antsy. No attending live sports? No concerts, festivals, or going to the theater? For many, it’s unfathomable. But it looks like that is our fate, at least in 2020.
Some sporting and musical events that can be performed safely are still being televised to audiences, or have moved online. The virtual experience may not have the same feel as being there. But consider this: you will have the same good view as everyone else, no one will spill their drink on you, and you may actually be able to understand all the words.
The Must-Have Accessory: A Mask
Ah, the mask. It’s such a small thing, but it’s become such a big point of contention. Whether you think of it as a necessity or an element of oppression, there’s no getting around the fact that masks are required when you go to many places. (Unless, in some instances, you have a medical exemption.)
This is actually something you could have a lot of fun with, if you are so inclined. You can bejewel a mask, or get one in every color to go with different outfits. Get different patterns, or get a mask that you can draw and/or write on.
Just expect that public transportation, especially flying, is going to be an even more uncomfortable experience than it is normally. In most cases, there’s no avoiding close quarters, so you will need to embrace the knowledge that you are likely to be poked and prodded and have your temperature taken. And, yes, you will have to wear a mask in lieu of social distancing.
At least if you know about it beforehand, you can mentally prepare yourself and reach some point of acceptance. It won’t necessarily make the journey any more comfortable. But at least you won’t be completely miserable or irate, either.
Contact tracing is nothing new. Starting with the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s, it is now common practice with managing contagious diseases. But what is different now is how it will be executed.
In the past, patient zero was relied upon to remember with whom they’d been in contact. And then would begin the time-consuming process of finding all those people’s contact information.
Today, big data is now being used more and more to help reveal relationships and to more quickly find current contact information. Simply enter a name using a dedicated people search engine, and the latest available contact information should pop up. Or looking up the patient could reveal possible relatives and known associates who may also need to be contacted.
Contact tracing can also happen in nearly real time. Both Apple and Google are working with contact tracing companies to help healthcare providers determine where a patient has been and with whom they have been in contact.
There’s no doubt about it; the world has changed. How much and for how long remains to be seen. But until then, there are ways you can survive and even thrive in our new normal…for now.
Image attribution: Photo by Maridav – www.shutterstock.com