Navigating the “New Normal”

As it appeared in the Daily Nation on May 19th 2020
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu

In the second week of April, I visited the bank. In line with the new requirements, I was wearing a mask. To my surprise, my temperature was also checked before I was allowed in. I had not yet started imagining that these new practices would be here to stay. Today, we seem to be living in a world in which a major transition has happened. Wearing masks, checking temperature before admission to a public place, frequent washing of hands, presence of sanitation stations, staying six feet apart, signage for physical distancing, regular cleaning of surfaces, occupancy caps for public places, working from home, contact-less interactions, virtual meetings, cashless payments and many other adjustments have become commonplace. This is the ‘new normal’.

We had hoped that life would soon go back to what it was before COVID-19. We were getting ready to bounce back to business as usual; however, it seems we are required to bounce forward. Already, there are changes to our lives as human beings and to our behaviours as consumers. Most businesses have accepted that the situation is likely to extend for much longer than was initially expected. Some businesses expect that their operations will never be the same again. Many have put in extra effort to navigate what is now referred to as the ‘new normal’. A few days ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) seemed to confirm this by indicating that we need to learn to live with the Corona Virus. We must do this whilst mitigating the risk of infection.

It remains a difficult situation for many businesses. Restrictions of economic activities resulting from lockdowns have yielded many disruptions and increased the level of uncertainty. The disruptions have been nothing we had ever fathomed. Businesses have shut down, employees have lost their jobs, others, have taken pay cuts because business activities have reduced. We did not prepare for the sort of disruptions we are facing today. We still do not know how the future will look like. However, we continue to keep hope alive. We hope that businesses will manage to cope and that many will successfully navigate through the crisis. Some businesses have already made major adjustments in how they do businesses. Some have adopted new technologies to ease interactions with their staff and with their customers. Many others have become accustomed to having all or some of their staff working from home in an effort to reduce the risk of infection.

We may not know what the future holds but we do believe in a world full of possibilities. As such, many continue to keep hope alive. Looking across the globe gives some optimism that economic activities are slowly being reactivated. Disneyland Shanghai opened a few days ago with new restrictions. Several airlines have made announcements for reopening. The German soccer league has reopened. Schools in some countries have reopened with new guidelines for class sizes and precautionary measures. With new measures in place, restaurants in Kenya are reopening. In Spain, hotels are reopening amid strict health and safety protocols. Countries are easing lockdowns, as they do so, the possibility of a second wave of infections is of great concern. As such, all businesses must continue to take precautionary measures to reduce the risk infection as they navigate the new normal.

Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy

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