leadership, strategy
29 Apr 2020

The new normal in a post-pandemic world

The new normal in a post-pandemic world

Six weeks into the pandemic-driven self-isolation and strangely enough, things are starting to feel normal. How can that be?


Well, that is the extraordinary human capacity to adapt to any odd and abnormal situation. This is exactly how our brain is built to work. We can adapt to any kind of situation or change – be it a pandemic or just an attempt to change our old habits or ways of working. It also means that when this ongoing crisis is over, we will have adapted and changed – and what was once normal will feel equally odd, so we will have to readapt. Or, then we might be changed forever.

For many businesses Covid-19 has turned out to be a major source of disruption where innovation and adaptability will be essential for survival, with a yet unknown outcome of who will survive and who not. What is certain is that there is a lot of creativity and innovation going on in a variety of business and societal areas, and those innovative new products and services will exist and probably persist also after the crisis. We will also have built resilience both personally and in our organisations, as a result of all the quick adaptation that we will all have had to accommodate during this time.

What kind of permanent changes may we expect then? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Working from home becomes the new normal. Less office space is needed, open spaces abandoned, also mission critical meetings online, less traveling expenses and time, meetings interrupted by family members and pets/work-life balance/new business norms (less rigid?)
  2. Digital transformation takes a giant leap forward. Digital change resistance has evaporated, a digital mindset will persist, digital now permeates work, social, home and family life, as well as community life. Privacy issues and encryption becomes more important (as seen with Zoom) but privacy is also intruded with e.g. movement tracking to follow disease contamination (e.g. Asia)
  3. Education goes virtual. An increase in blended learning, totally new technological experiences developed, high-speed internet connection in all homes becomes a must-have – closing the digital divide
  4. Well-being and healthcare digitalisation. Digital health solutions and tools expand, pooling medical data and records across systems, shifts in attitude around mental health and employee well-being, online solutions and new business models to exercise and well-being
  5. Renewed strength of the state and belief in science. Science-informed decisions on the rise to battle misinformation and fake news, states showing their capacity to step in and both take demand and support to minimise damages?
  6. Company value may be seen in different ways. This will be effecting e.g. venture capital and investments: qualitative aspects grow in importance, e.g. organisational structure, teams, culture, flexibility, resilience, profitability, business models, capital structure – aspects that can sustain also an unforeseen crisis situation
  7. Less global, more local travel. While airlines are struggling, air fare prices rise and local travel will seem both safer and cheaper e.g. train and other transport will move to more sharing instead of mass transport (bike share, carpooling, scooters). What will happen to car travelling? The decrease in pollution we are witnessing is bound to affect how we view travel and pollution; the green movement will rise again stronger than before
  8. Manufacturing gets a wakeup call. Risk-evaluation and shock scenarios, building resilience, bringing home production: nearshoring, onshoring, full automation, software-based management
  9. New thinking changes old businesses. Adaptability to changing conditions at the core, good leadership to create room for developing and testing new ideas – even crazy ones, separating idea generation from critique and selection gives room for winder range of potential solutions, more combining of brick&mortar and on-line solutions also for smaller local boutiques, restaurants and other businesses.

What kind of thoughts do you have on what will be the new normal?

The blog was inspired by an article which included post-pandemic predictions by 30 top experts.

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Pernilla Gripenberg
Director, Design and Delivery - Ph.D.
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