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The ‘New Normal’?

The ‘New Normal’, I’m already disliking that phrase aren’t you?

Like everyone, I am sure you have all looked back to ‘pre-lockdown’ days and thought ‘Wow’ how different they are to now? We could mix with family, friends and work colleagues, hug each other at will and have a coffee out, and much more besides!

Yet some amazing advantages of this pandemic are that people are looking at work through a different lens – and maybe more than one lens. People seem to be empathetic to other peoples’ plights at present, wanting to help others, and donate their time and money to good causes – just look at the amazing success of Captain Tom!

Another aspect is the recognition of the viability of home working. In the last week or so I have heard of some businesses who I thought would never embrace home working, are paying for home furniture! They would certainly not have done this, owing to the massive financial implications, if this was a short-term solution. So hopefully we’ll have more agile and flexible workplaces in the future, we’ll be more trusting of people and will better rely on IT and technology. Time spent working from home will come to frame our future working patterns. It will enable people – predominantly parents and those with caring responsibilities – to take the opportunity to gain roles that will better fit their lifestyles and personal circumstances. Especially in the world of HR, this needs to happen for us as a profession to move forward.

You’d think our lives would be a bit simpler now, not having to commute to work, go out socially, go to the hairdresser, etc but this is not the case for so many. Mental health, financial and social problems (including domestic violence) are on the rise. We have all seen the horrific statistics ☹ Being furloughed or being made redundant seem to be the new landscape for many.

We know that work often tends to define us, it gives us purpose and structure. As the Managing Director of a small and newly formed business (not yet 9 months old) I have found the situation to be difficult. I have obviously read and listened to lots of uplifting articles, read blogs and listened to podcasts and they are a positive force. Yet, sometimes like many others, I just want to ‘be’ and do nothing when things are a bit daunting.

So here are some tips that I would like to share that have helped me. Even if this helps one business owner, HR professional or anyone else, it would be great!

1. Remaining in contact with people in your network. I have been involved in some virtual Zoom meetings with local businesses and also a few HR hubs. These have helped to keep me sane as well as share experience and brilliant advice!
2. Refer to the CIPD Website for up to date advice and do also contact your local CIPD Groups and book onto their virtual meetings. They are free for members!
3. Keeping in regular contact with your Finance Team or Company Accountant. They really do have a handle on what is going on out there and can also provide updates on what other businesses are doing.
4. This not a time to be selling directly to others. Sending speculative messages, selling your services etc is for later. Business leaders are often just managing to keep their business afloat and really do not have the head-space to think of any ‘great opportunity’ that they are presented with.
5. I have furloughed the Liberty HR team, but I make sure that I am keeping in contact as arranged and being supportive of them. Companies have to recognise that levels of contact during furlough should be agreed, so employees do not feel obliged to be at their manager’s ‘beck and call’ and get the most from their downtime.
6. I have taken time off and plan to further reduce my days and hours. As a business owner you may be the only one still working and this can be hard, so be kind to yourself, you also need downtime.
7. Remember this is going to end and we will never have this time again. So do what you have put off in the past because you have been ‘time poor’; read that book, listen to that podcast, get your creative juices going to see how you can go forward once again when this ends.
8. Think about your work, do you need to diversify? Can you update your business communications? Can you improve your website? Maybe improve processes? Should you start a blog? You could also volunteer to do something in your community, which in turn will give you a sense of fulfillment.
9. I have been sending gratitude cards to those dear to me, with things I just want to tell them about and why I am thankful that they are in my life. When would I ever have had the chance or the inclination to do this before? This pandemic has helped me recognise the good in those around me more than ever and I wanted to say thank you. I have been giving CV / Career advice to the HR community. I have also enlisted myself to become a mentor for women wanting to get into business.
10. Finally – and importantly – remember that if you want to do nothing and just ‘be’, then give yourself permission to do so.

I am so thankful that myself and the people around me have our health, especially when being so aware of others’ struggles and losses. Please take care of yourselves, stay safe and if anyone just wants a natter, do pick up the phone and give me a call.

Much love and sunshine ?
Jane x

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