What’s Going To Be Your “New Normal” Post-Covid-19?

Have you ever wished for a break from life? Not like, “stop the world, I want to get off.” But more like, “I need a break to feel myself again.” A burnout or a negative situation allowing your thoughts wander to “winning a lottery will make me feel better”… and more pipe dreams. This dragging feeling that you are in a hamster wheel.

Your wish for “the break” came through a month ago. Totally unplanned and unprepared. And, corona-tainted. Not exactly like you had imagined it. But it’s not new that man proposes and God disposes! Time is all you got! So, for a while, you do nothing. Stay at home. Bond with your loved ones. Smile. Rest. Cook, sing, paint, dance, read, play, grow a garden… get into something else, anything really.. to just feel and express yourself creatively and freely. And then, this pandemic is your New Normal. Changing the way you live and conduct yourselves every day.

Viktor Frankl says, "In times of crisis, people reach for meaning. Meaning is strength. Our survival may depend on our seeking and finding it."

Look around you. Last few weeks of lockdown have shown us how some countries have moved from a quasi-professional circus act into something more like the fall of Rome. Luckily, Indian Government made some quick and good judgemental calls like implementing social distancing and taking reasonable precautions to flatten the curve of pandemic. We are now heading on the path of recovery. However, uncertainty about relapse still lurks. Because though the infected are believed to develop protective antibodies, but for how long, it is not clear. So the ambiguity remains. But Covid-19 has proven that human societies are capable of transforming themselves more or less overnight.

The latest updates tell us that the medical experts are trying to defeat the invisible enemy. While the hunt for vaccine is on, it is no exaggeration that the fate of millions of people rests on the discovery of the vaccine. Economists are asking questions ranging from global economy and investment plans to operational and risk management strategies. Governments are trying to assess the growing impact of coronavirus on businesses and trade. However, even the industry experts have cited that the “most significant challenge” to businesses over next three months is going to be Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, optimism is in short supply just about everywhere. And, recession is the most likely conclusion.

Lost in the shuffle of the coronavirus story, is You and Your Future. What are you going to do when the economy is back on track?

Businesses everywhere are facing an unprecedented existential challenge. So, unless yours is a recession-resistant business, you can’t just call on your likely customer to say, “Sir, two months ago you told me to call you later for….”. No. For compelling reasons, it’s never going to be business-as-usual. Like my bro-in-law, Rohit Rana said and I quote, “It is better to prepare for a New Normal than hope and pray for return to business as usual.” Start-ups that depend on in-person sales are going to take a hit considering the travel restrictions. Calls and video conferencing will not be the best alternatives either. As you find your New Normal for sales processes, you must master the art of digital selling.

Buyers and businesses are going to be more reticent to spend. If yours is a traditional business that works on linear model and centres on supply chain, you will be looking for revised operating plans and lengthier sales cycles. Use of digital technology for interaction through the existing vendor ecosystem would go a long way in building powerful consumer experiences. Plan for the worst and hope for the best as you welcome the New Normal. Remember what Jawaharlal Nehru said, “Every little thing counts in a crisis.”

The new world is of sharing economy and collaborative consumption where people don’t want to own things anymore – apartments, cars, furniture, design, maintenance services, coworking spaces, even wedding trousseau. Companies like Airbnb, Uber, Ola, Neighbor, OLX, Upwork, Poshmark, ThreadUp, Wework are already disrupting industries where large businesses are scrambling to keep up. If yours is a start-up relying on this consumerism approach, then you are now (like the online stores) facing the void in pandemic times. But if you study the cases of businesses based on shared economy model, it is not very clear whether all businesses are doing good even in ideal conditions. So, budding entrepreneur, tread carefully as you establish your New Normal.

Ultimately, the greatest lesson that COVID-19 can teach humanity is that we are all in this together. - Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Biocon

Post Covid-19, it would seem like all are on the same boat, but any change in our normal order of action would entirely depend on whether or not ours is a cruise liner or a shipwreck or anywhere in between. Either ways, it would be prudent to drop the conventional approach and do some out-of-box thinking for new ideas. Ideas for doing businesses that are less capital intensive. Ideas that will work. Ideas that could change the way goods and services are delivered… food, entertainment, travel, education, even healthcare.

Experts have warned that more planetary crises are coming. If we maintain the same economic model that got us here, future shocks will eventually exceed the capacity of governments, financial institutions, and crisis managers to respond.

So, while you harvest good ideas for the New Normal, be mindful about the changed needs of the people, and the things that you believe should be conserved for future generations.

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Smita Chaudhari

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