As we enter the next phase of this pandemic, no doubt you’ve started to consider what your new reality will look like.

It’s becoming clear that things won’t return to normal (whatever normal was anyway) given the experiences we have all had during the coronavirus. Not only have most of us changed but most of the things around us have too.

Yet if we want to look for a silver lining from all this, the past few months may have taught us some important life lessons. In difficult times like these, we should be focusing on what we have learnt, and working out how we can be better and stronger having gone through this experience. And this applies to us personally, and our workplaces too.

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe

Anatole France

At a personal level

Each of our experiences during the coronovirus were different, and how we overcame what we went through will play a role in shaping our futures.

For many, the pandemic caused us to slow down. And what this has helped us realise is that the pace we were used to operating at is no longer sustainable. Our new reality should be one where we ensure that our physical health and wellbeing are on top of the priority lists, so we don’t contribute further to our levels of stress and anxiety or the present mental health crisis in Australia.

So, if you haven’t already, it could be time to consider what you have learnt about yourself over the past few months. You might uncover some things that you wish to leave behind in the past, and the things you want to take with you going forward. To figure this out, a good place to start is by asking yourself:

  • What’s truly important to me?
  • What is my purpose?
  • What conditions allow me to be at my best?
  • What will I be leaving behind?
  • How do I stay motivated, engaged and productive?
  • What do I need to manage stress and/or anxiety, and to take care of my wellbeing?

Let your new reality be a chance for you to change for the better and to improve your life by focusing your energy and efforts on what you need to thrive. It would be a huge missed opportunity to simply return to the way things used to be!

Cultures are formed in the crucible of crisis

David Cooperrider

At an organisational level

Right now, workplaces also have an incredible opportunity to drive positive change and improve so they are better placed in their new reality.

Many organisations will say that the present is not the right time to be thinking about growth when they are focused on survival. Yet having just gone through a difficult period is a good time for workplaces to uncover when they are at their best and what gives them life. To do this well, workplaces should be having conversations with their people about their experiences and learnings. What’s more, team members should be able to determine what needs to change and what can be kept going forward, and to co-create strategies for their organisation’s future.

An organisation’s people are the best ones to come together (even via virtual conferencing) to answer the following:  

  • What’s working well?
  • What will we leave behind and what will we take forward?
  • What conditions or behaviours allow us to perform at our best?
  • Where do we struggle?
  • What are we learning?
  • What do we want to try next?
  • What could it be like in five or ten years?

These types of questions enable your team members to consider their learnings from this experience as opposed to just focusing on outcomes. As well as allowing them to have a say in shaping what’s next for their organisation.

To be effective, everyone’s voice must be heard, and facilitators or leaders need to be curious about responses rather than judgemental. By enabling psychological safety (a topic I have previously covered and should always be a priority) within the group, employees will feel safe to be vulnerable, and express their fears or concerns. And this is the environment where innovation and growth best occur!

If you or your organisation were ever waiting for a burning platform to drive change, you’ve got it. There has never been a better time than now, to take advantage of the opportunities both big and small that are currently in front of us to make our new reality our best one yet!