Returning to Work Part 2: Billy Mathis Examines “The New Normal”
By Billy Mathis, FCSI, CDT
The phrase, “The New Normal” is being bantered around so much now that I am not sure just what it really means.
Here are some thoughts on how my “new normal” has evolved since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Work: At first, the new normal for me was staying home and working from home. Working from home was fun and interesting for about a week. Then it got old. It took days to coordinate and discuss things that could be resolved in one day at the office.
Then my firm decided that we would implement a hybrid schedule of coming in on some days not staying home on others. This had the advantage of being strategically implemented in that we worked together in teams with people who coordinated and needed to communicate coming in together.
Now we are moving back to working full time from the office. We had expressed some concerns about health issues, which were addressed, and we are now getting used to being back at the office every day.
This was a shift back into the old habits before the pandemic started. For most of us, this is something that will take a little getting used to. The one thing we do know, however, is that should we need to work from home for a time period, we are fully capable.
Protection: Before all of this started, the health officials were touting washing hands regularly as a way to prevent the normal illnesses (flu, stomach bugs, etc). I am someone who never washed my hands much except after using the restroom. Now, after listening to these same health officials and various government officials telling us we should be wearing a mask to protect each other and washing our hands continuously, especially after contacting anyone or any surface outside our direct control, I have been washing and sanitizing my hands at least 15 times a day.
I also discovered that, in conjunction with masks and washing hands, there are so many other things that we need to be aware of. Such as:
No-Contact Greetings: It is ingrained into my psyche to shake a person’s hand as a sign of trust and friendship. Without this, I am a bit of a loss at what to do. Since no-contact greetings seem to be the new norm, one can get ready for the near miss handshake, high five, fist bump, etc.
Cleaning surfaces: I was always worried that the cleaning service would use something I was allergic to, or something that would cause a focused reaction, or that they might use something that might actually cause health issues. Now I worry about whether the cleaning service has cleaned our surfaces sufficiently and take an active role in cleaning and disinfecting our work surfaces daily. If I have to use another person’s area, phone, keyboard, etc., I “Lysol wipe it” before leaving.
Hand Sanitizer: This is now the must have accessory, along with your cellphone, tablet, keys, etc. Everyone is carrying around a small bottle of hand sanitizer, has another bottle on their desk, in their car, and at home when you come in the door. Each office and retail center has a hand and object sanitization station as you enter. I sanitize my hands so much I determined that one thing I definitely needed to make sure of is that at least one of these accessories includes some sort of moisturizing cream.
Leisure: This has been totally redefined. Many of us are going only where we need to and interacting with others only when required. This has left little room for travel and vacations. Now, as we move toward our old norms, what I like to call “short hop” vacations are starting up. Some people are going to the beaches in Florida and Alabama, although the food, entertainment, and lodging are not what they were this time last year. I have taken day trips to Ikea in Memphis, a fishing trip to Greers Ferry and the Little Red River, Arkansas. These are single day or just a weekend trips. Other that that, my leisure has been completing the lengthened “Honey Do” list. I think we will continue to see more people travelling to where whey can drive in a single day.
Where do we go from here? This is the million-dollar question. Some people say once a vaccine is discovered, we will just go back to the way we were pre-pandemic. I don’t think this will occur. We have seen just how vulnerable to something like this we are. We have seen that people are not always as forgiving and altruistic as we had hoped. There will always be those who seek to profit from the situation, and those who seek to gain power by trying to scare everyone.
I did notice that for every one of these of people, there are at least five others who will step up and do what it takes to protect the public. You see that in the Nurses, Doctors, other Healthcare Workers, Police, Fire Departments, Ambulance Services and the Military. You also see it in the Churches, the Non-Profit Organizations and the general society. We have seen how the media can make thing better, and how they can incite unreasonable problems. We have seen how hoarding affects us all and just how important things such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer are.
As a Society, we need to begin to come together and forget the “old days” (even if they are only a year ago). We need to make sure that when this happens again, we are truly ready and willing to take the steps necessary to protect not only our families, friends and co-workers, but everyone in the country. We must create our “new normal” and then recreate it as needed to respond to things that we have no control over.
WE NEED TO COME TOGETHER.
Read ‘Billy Mathis Outlines His Office Strategy’