Inclusion under New Normal Times!

We are now living under special circumstances, where few things feel normal. Our way of life and doing business has been disrupted, creating both challenges and opportunities at a scale so far unmatched. How have we dealt with this shift, and where do we see ourselves in the future?

Like many others around the world, most of our teams at the New Normal Group had to set up shop for remote work on just a few hours’ notice. They did so quickly, efficiently, and with a positive “we can do this” attitude. Change is often also uncertain, but to face the uncertainty of the current situation with a good dose of determination and positivity for the rest of your team is admirable. I am proud of my colleagues, and how they have tackled this challenge.

People are Key

We are lucky to live in a part of the world where there is access to healthcare and established social systems. Yet, the situation still affects us, and some more than others. In these weeks of working from home and social distancing, we’ve seen the importance of inclusion, building resilience, and having attentive leaders.

Operating in a digital world, my colleagues are used to collaborating across digital channels and with people who are physically located elsewhere. There is, however, a difference between working from home when you choose it yourself, and working from home when you have no choice, or cannot log off and go out to see your friends after hours. Many feel isolated in this situation and miss the social interactions in the office and elsewhere.

Managers such as myself, now feel responsible in a way we have never had to before; for the social and emotional health of our team members, even after the workday has ended.

What we find to be crucial in this situation is to make everyone feel that they are still part of something bigger. That they are included. That they belong – a basic human need. This is much easier if your company already has an inclusive culture where everyone can be their unique selves. It will ultimately be the managers who can focus on individuals, resilience and inclusion who will build and maintain a team better prepared to weather the storm.

Returning to a New Normal

As many slowly start the return to a life more similar to what we once knew, focusing on the individual and their needs will be essential for all managers. We add value to our business through our people, as it is their hard work, growth and development that help the company grow.

We need to be aware of and acknowledge that everyone will have coped with the situation differently, and therefore will have different needs when we once again change the status quo and return to our offices. If we succeed at that, we can secure their psychological safety and help them adjust to the situation quicker. In return, we get resilient colleagues who are ready for any challenge that comes their way, with the best chance to succeed and grow our business.

Originally published June 2020. Updated February 2021.

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