Kindness, empathy and the ‘new normal’ – what will you choose?

We’re being asked to keep two metres apart. We’re being told to exercise once a day. We’re being advised not to go out. But what are we choosing to do…?

We’re baking a lot banana bread. We’re working out before logging on. Painting rainbows. Learning achord, a day. We’re sharing recipes and hacks. Messaging loved ones. Cheering our NHS (thank you,thank you, thank you).

And at the same time, we’re all wondering what does life post-lockdown look like? But perhaps what we should be thinking is what do we want it to look like?

As individuals our priorities have changed (we won’t mention home-schooling – that’s a whole other blog) and as businesses the way we work has shifted. Yes, these are times of uncertainty, but we can make them a time of opportunity too. A time to take a step back, see the bigger picture…think about how we truly want to LIVE OUR LIVES… an opportune moment, if we can, to RESET.

We’ve had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks, with friends, family, our clients and the creative community, about the challenges and benefits of this new existence. Readying for the next leg of the journey we’re asking what we take with us, and what we leave behind…

 

1. Community

In the face of such adversities you cannot help but be struck by the capacity for kindness, the strength of resolve and the overwhelming sense of community. A new era of heroes has emerged, who we must continue to support and celebrate (Sir Cpt Tom Moore everyone?) as well as re-assessing the value attributed to roles in our economy and our community – the real key-workers.

We are in the middle of a pandemic. The impact is global. And as such we are accepting certain changes to how businesses function, levels of service, and our own expectations; of ourselves and others. We are slowing down. Having to be more patient. More understanding. More empathetic. Beyond the lockdown many people will still be facing their own personal crises – let’s hope we pause long enough to be more kind.

It’s the stories of bravery, courage, compassion and sacrifice that have been so humbling and I have a new found respect and admiration for all of the key workers that actually keep our country going every day!

Francesca Coles – Head of Communications Coles Funeral Directors

 

2.Wellbeing

The threat has been and continues to be to our physical health. Our sleeping patterns, our exercise regime and eating habits have all come under scrutiny. But, making sure we get 7-8 hours (it’s a challenge for many), taking one hour of exercise a day and varying our diet is no bad thing. Being restricted to one shop a week has altered our spending. We’re planning our meals (mostly). Finding new recipes and trying not to waste food. Our normal fitness arenas are not open, and although we will inevitably return to our spin classes and steam rooms we are reconnecting with nature.

Physical and mental wellbeing was firmly on the agenda before the lockdown, but we have been blown away by the various initiatives, care packages and check-ins we’ve seen across social media. You, your team, and their wellbeing will play a big part in the future success of your business.

More colourful food. We’ve made a more concerted effort about eating better food. The bland beige food has gone, and we are maxing out on fruit and veg – and feel better for it. The lockdown has made us really appreciate food like we didn’t before!

Emily Bristow – Customer Success Director Blue Prism

 

3.Change

Change is hard, or it seems to be, because often people focus on the negative aspects of change. Whether it is a reluctance to break with familiar routines and processes or simply a matter of making time – we can all find change challenging and that’s ok. We’ve all had to adapt in the last few weeks and the changes had to be quick – reactive – so we’ve had almost no time to dwell on them. The crisis is global. The impact is to everyone. We are all in it together. As such, we’ve just had to get on with it. From investing in new technology, creating new daily routines to migrating service offerings online (or home schooling your child/children…there it is again…we’ll blog that next!), everyone has had to deal with some form of change.

But maybe you’ve been able to diversify your business, reimagine your offering, or discovered new skillsets in your team. And there’s been a shift in the work life balance for many working from home. Lockdown has put accessibility to flexible working on everyone’s agenda (hopefully the ‘new normal’ will not allow for rigid corporate ways to permeate back into the world of work). We’re also seeing the positive environmental impact of reduced production and commuting in a relatively short period of time – and it’s one that we all benefit from and cannot (or shouldn’t) ignore. We’ve stayed home to save lives – a common goal. Let’s start setting more long-term ambitions together.

I found myself spending more time on my aspirations.

Aled Nelmes – Digital Marketer Learna Ltd.

 

4.Communication

All the (virtual) high-fives for technology! Allowing us to stay connected; to colleagues, to friends and our families. Grandparents with iPads learning how to WhatsApp and Zoom. Saturday Night (in) House Parties. Video calls looking more like a line-up of global Bond villains with DIY haircuts. Digital meetings allow for focus and collaboration – just don’t forget your video call etiquette (hit us up with your hacks for this).

Introvert or extrovert we are social animals. We need interaction. Conversation – even small talk. Perhaps that’s why many more of us are picking up the telephone rather than hiding behind emails. Will this be the end of the infamous keyboard warriors? Probably not. But we are talking more and being less camera shy. Text and email are great but how often have the nuances of what you are trying to say been misunderstood. Make the call. Make your point.

And we are making meaningful connections. We are engaging with our neighbours. We are looking to experts for our information. We are interrogating our sources – science and facts…no fake news thanks. And celebrating genuine, authentic content. All our social feeds have transformed in recent weeks – we’re not just spring cleaning our homes.

 

5.Time

We don’t have any more time (stay with me). Although some days feel drawn out it’s actually more an awareness of how we spend our time. People are choosing not to be bombarded with sensational news. They are avoiding (or at least rationing) social media consumption, acutely aware of the impact to their own mental health. We are in isolation. We are no longer distracted. We are being more present; for our families, with our own thoughts. Time has given us a moment to pause and reflect.

In business we’ve had to make quick decisions. But they have been considered. We have re-prioritised; deciding what’s important and what’s relevant. Timekeeping has got better. People are juggling work with childcare – boundaries are needed. Most are understanding (and grateful when they only have a dog to contend with). We’re on time for video calls, briefs are focussed, and deadlines are met. Pause and reflect.

Slowing down… everything is done much more deliberately and is well thought out since there is no London rush creeping into everything I do!

Anastasia Kalinina – International Marketing Manager BARBRI

 

The journey ahead – an uncertain one. On reflection this time will feel quite surreal but no less profound. So, what are we taking with us? Let’s strive for better engagement with technology, embracing change. Let’s build deeper more meaningful connections underpinned by community and reciprocity. Let’s create and consume relevant, genuine content. Let’s trust our instincts, and our teams to uphold the values of our businesses while enhancing their wellbeing. Yes, there will be loss and it will be difficult but made easier if we support each other. Business to business. Being to Being.