Creating a better normal

  • Mary Lynn Fayoumi

    Mary Lynn Fayoumi

 
Updated 6/1/2022 11:56 AM

I just returned from a professional convention with well over 1,000 attendees. Spending time at events like this used to be a normal part of my job.

I'm an extrovert by nature, an "Influencer" on the DISC assessment, and count "Woo" as one of my top five Clifton Strengths, so one would surmise that I would be 100% in my element with hundreds of potential new business contacts and "friends" at my disposal.

 

Prior to March 2020, that was exactly how I felt about representing my organization at any event large or small. Sign me up. I'll be the first to arrive and one of the last to leave.

But not so much anymore. The pandemic has had a profound impact on our preferences, both at work and home, which is prompting us to consider not just a "new normal" for the future, but a better normal.

There is definitely no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating a better normal. Given the opportunity for experimentation the pandemic provided, there are arguably more variations than ever before.

Millions of Americans learned that they are more productive at their jobs after eliminating commuting and office disruptions from their daily routines. Others miss the in-person collaboration with their colleagues and long for informal water cooler chats throughout the workday.

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Some realized that if given the freedom to move to another state or country, they would jump on the opportunity to live outside the normal boundaries of their employer's location. For these individuals, being permanently reliant on virtual meetings is a small price to pay to choose where they call home.

The past few years have also given people a chance to consider their personal well-being and work-life alignment. The results are a mixed bag.

For many, spending more time at home with family or pursuing interests or hobbies is a gift. Some discovered new hobbies, some got fit and lost weight, and some undoubtedly met or rediscovered the love of their life.

Even if you didn't manage to learn a new language or run your first marathon, you may have found that spending more time at home reading or cooking from scratch was more rewarding than your previous activities.

But as you've undoubtedly heard (or experienced personally), the impact of this extra time wasn't positive for everyone. For some, the pandemic led to isolation and mental health struggles. In more severe cases it caused or contributed to divorce and even substance abuse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If you haven't yet taken time to reflect on what a better normal could look like, I recommend that you do. Maybe you can't envision many changes from what your current normal looks like because you don't have the flexibility due to your life stage, profession or economic situation.

Or maybe you just want to return to the ways things were pre-pandemic.

But since there's no way to turn back the clock, take advantage of this unique opportunity to embrace change and carve out your individual path to success and well-being.

Employers are more open than ever to listen to employee suggestions and allow for more creative solutions to traditional workplace issues. Although I still value participation in big, public events, my "better normal" will cause me to be more selective with which ones I attend and how I measure the return on investment for myself and my organization.

• Mary Lynn Fayoumi is President and CEO of HR Source.

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