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So what will be the ‘new normal’?

Posted by Cash Brown on 3 Sep 2020

The last few months have been a weird old time. Lockdown, isolation, social distancing, whatever you want to call it, has affected everyone in different ways. I’ve been through so many emotions; anger, fear, anxiety, the list is endless. I’ve missed the camaraderie of the office, I’ve missed the office, I’ve not missed the office and dove head first into working from home (WFH), I’ve wanted to relocate. I’ve felt unproductive and a lack of creativity staring at my kitchen wall day in day out. I’ve felt invigorated, creative and had some of my most productive days. The last few months have been a weird old time.

Now, the earlier part of this list can’t be tackled in a blog post, but the latter, namely creativity and productivity, can be addressed. How we work now, and in the future will not be the same as before. Companies around the world are now WFH, ‘telecommuting’ and using the myriad web conferencing services available. We’re all adapting to the ‘new normal,’ adopting new ways of working, and with this come some challenges. Nothing will replace a good old design team meeting or workshop to boost creativity in a project, and nothing will beat the feeling of a productive day at the office. But as we move forward, a more blended style of working between the office and home will and is emerging. With this in mind, concerns of not being productive enough and stifled creativity will be raised, so we’ve outlined a few tips below to get the juices flowing:


1 – Be Flexible

Both company and employee should be flexible in terms of expectations as we move forward to a new way of working. The past few months have proved the ship does not sink if everyone isn’t in it all the time, so more flexible working patterns can work and become the new normal. Home, office, café, wherever. Provided the right equipment, people can be productive anywhere. Provided the right interactions, creativity can blossom, at the office as well as elsewhere. Staying flexible benefits a wider office culture, of inclusion, creativity and productivity.


2 – Zoom Fatigue

Back to back video calls can be a tiring endeavour. A traditional day of meetings, if not in the same location, made possible some form of downtime, even if that was just hoofing a sandwich in your face on public transport. Being in one place, the temptation is to schedule meeting after meeting via video link. However, the risk of not taking a break is high. Try to spread meetings to avoid burnout on a daily basis, prioritise important meetings and get away from the screen when you can.


3 – Find your way of working

Everyone is different, and has a different way of working, different needs and different commitments. This isn’t always obvious in a traditional office setting. People should be empowered to find their way of working. Better in the mornings? Start earlier and finish earlier. Need a break? Get away from that computer. Most productive after exercise? Have a morning or lunchtime workout. Encouraging people to work in a way that suits them boosts personal well being, and has wider productivity benefits. Everyone knows what needs to be done, and when it needs to be done by. What happens in between shouldn’t necessarily be dictated by 7 hours staring at a computer screen.


4 – Communication and collaboration

Open lines of communication are good for everyone. Feeling involved in something, even though you may not be, has a big effect on attitude to work and colleagues. Clear and meaningful communication is key. Platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack have become second nature to us now, and using these tools to engage and connect with colleagues at this difficult time has been a lifeline. Project discussions and collaborative calls, rather than a list of tasks, can inject a much needed creative buzz to an otherwise monotonous day in the kitchen.


Failing all of the above, nothing can beat a (physically distanced) beer with your co-workers to ignite that creative spark again.