Welcome to the new normal!

Just like children travelling a long distance in a car have a habit of saying ‘Are we there yet?’, many of us are now asking whether we’ve survived the COVID-19 storm and whether things are now going to get back to normal. However just today, parts of Brisbane enter a three-day lockdown after recording 10 new cases of coronavirus and masks are suddenly mandatory across all of Queensland.

In today’s episode we’re going to explore to see whether life is going to go back to normal anytime soon. Spoiler alert: it’s not!

Most of us enjoy engaging with other people in person, instead of looking at the Brady bunch pictures in yet another web meeting. We are introverts and even we miss seeing people in a physical room after a while!

The world has dramatically changed since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It has unfortunately impacted the way we live and work around the world, and our sympathies go to all those who have lost loved ones and colleagues as a result.

We might think that it’s been over a year now since the pandemic hit, so we deserve to get back to normal. There have been more than 120 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world and around 3 million people have died. Over 200 countries and territories have been affected, with few countries escaping unscathed.
So you would be excused for thinking that the worst is over. We now have multiple vaccines available, and an ambitious vaccination program being rolled out.

However, according to research released in February 2021, Bloomberg predicts that our lives might not return to normal for another seven years. That is based on how long it is expected for countries to be able to vaccinate a sufficient percentage of their populations. And sadly that is not taking into account the multiple variants that have now started to develop, and we do not yet know how well the vaccines will affect them.

So it might be tempting to think that once we’re over the COVID-19 pandemic life will go back to normal. But sadly, if it is not coronavirus then it will probably be some other contagious disease that will impact us in the future. Here are two that have been reported during the last month. Firstly, there is the Nipah plague which is carried by fruit bats and has been described as being 75 times more deadly than coronavirus.

Similarly, the ABC reported in February 2021 that Russia has recently reported the first case of human infections from H5N8 bird flu. This could also have a devastating impact on human life. As usual, the links to those news articles are in the notes below the blog.

John thinks that it is going to be another pendulum swing. Before coronavirus we probably used physical events about 90% of the time to engage with our audiences, with maybe less than 10% of it being done online. During the pandemic that swung the other way, so we were only doing less than 10% in person, and 90% online, depending on where you were.

As things slowly return to the new normal, we will continue to use online approaches when appropriate, which may be around 50% of the time. It is just so convenient not travelling, and much cheaper on project budgets too.

So, sorry to be party poopers, but it seems to us that it is unlikely that we’ll go back to the old business as usual anytime soon. So what does this mean for us as enablers of change? Firstly, we need to continue caring for the people around us. Keep an eye out for people who might not be coping. Take the time to connect with them and hear their story. Let them know you’re interested in hearing how they’re doing.

It also means that whenever we are planning a physical event, that we need to seriously develop a Plan B in case of another overnight lockdown. These knee-jerk reactions are going to keep happening, so do not pretend that your next event will be immune.

Finally, if you still have not improved your online skills and abilities, do it now! You need to know how to host and facilitate great web meetings, where people can feel engaged and energised. Boring, tiring, demotivating web meetings are so last year. Let’s lead the way and engage our clients in new and exciting ways.

Well, you have read our somewhat pessimistic thoughts, now we would like to hear yours! Add a comment below the blog post and tell us your thoughts, including any tips and further ideas. We don’t want this to be just a one-way conversation – join in by sharing your thoughts and ideas with us!

Thanks folks for joining us on this Enablers of change episode. Remember to subscribe to our newsletter if you’d like to know when new episodes are available. And if you liked what you heard, please tell your friends so they can join the conversation!

Resources

Anon. (2021, February 22) Russia reports world’s first case of human infections with H5N8 bird flu, WHO ‘gathering more information’ ABC. Available online

Micklethwaite, J. (2021, February 21) Brain-swelling Nipah virus 75 times more deadly than coronavirus may be next pandemic, scientists warn of ‘The Big One’. News.com.au. Available online

Randall, Tom. (2021, February 5) When will life return to normal? In 7 years at today’s vaccine rates. Bloomberg. Available online

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Noel Ainsworth
Noel Ainsworth
6 months ago

Great update thanks John and Denise

Graham Harris
Graham Harris
6 months ago

Having a Plan B is a great tip. Thinking back to the past – it was always good to have a plan B just in case the weather conditions necessitated it as well.

Jane Graham
Jane Graham
6 months ago

Great video! Thanks 🙂

Grey
Grey
6 months ago

Great job……much as COVID 19 has disrupted our livelihoods and we are waiting for things to come back normal, plan B it’s really relevant because anything can happen and it can be out of control .

Grey
Grey
6 months ago
Reply to  John James

Very true, John. Contingency plans are very important in initiating change, since any situation is subjected to change, either for better or worse