The “New Normal” is not “Normal”


The “New Normal” is not “Normal”

Covid19 has entered our lives and doesn’t look like it is leaving anytime soon.  It has shaken our world and changed almost every aspect our daily lives.

Many businesses were forced to close their doors only to reopen to a phased-in approach scheduled by the government. 

It appears to me that the only normal that will remain for the foreseeable future – is change!

Workplaces have had to face many challenges – dependant on the type of business that you run.  Not only have workplaces faced the safety challenges of reopening but the staffing challenges as well. 

  • Working from home used to be a perk – now it is the norm for some offices
  • Social Distancing in the office/business/waiting rooms and even break rooms
  • Accommodating our employees who have child care and elder care responsibilities
  • Increased absenteeism – remember when it used to be a badge of honour to show up at work even though you were deathly ill?   Now we are encouraging everyone to stay at home when not feeling well.
  • Employees that are reluctant to return to work because the CERB payments are being enjoyed, fear of contracting the virus or compromised health concerns for themselves or a family member

Still business owners are resilient – many have found some “work arounds” to previous processes to meet the new safety protocols, many businesses are using “out of the box” ideas to generate business and keep bringing in the much needed operating income to keep the business alive and employees employed.

The fact is – we honestly don’t know how long we are going to have to implement these changes that have allowed us to reopen our businesses.  Businesses pivoted to remain operating.  It is now time to document the current processes and procedures and communicate your expectations clearly with your employees.  If you have staff working from home – you should have a WFH Policy that describes expectations.  Don’t jump into making any permanent changes unless you are sure that your business can support those changes in the future.  If you do make changes to jobs – ensure that you are revising employment contracts that you have with your staff.  

As a business owner or leader – your responsibility is to mitigate risk.  Now is the time to look at the changes that you have made and document the changes.  If the changes are only temporary – that’s ok – it’s still important to document them and state that they are temporary measures.

Do you have a “Sick Leave” policy?  Has it been updated for Covid 19?  Are employees comfortable calling in sick if they are not feeling well?  Have you outlined for your staff what steps should be followed if they test positive for Covid19? Or if a family member tests positive?  Having no policies or processes in place creates a risk for your customers, employees and the reputation of your business.  

If you have people working from home for the next 6 months – a revised contract stating that it is a temporary arrangement should be drafted and signed. 

I could go on and on about this topic – the fact is that it will be different for absolutely every business.  I will leave you with 3 words of advice – document, communicate and transparency.

Document all process changes – even if they are temporary.

Communicate often and clearly to your employees and your customers.

Be transparent with your employees about your business; employees are concerned about their futures and that includes their ability to remain employed.  It’s ok if your struggling – almost everyone is right now – but talk about it.  Let your employees know what you are doing to ensure that your business remains open.  

Don’t forget that as a business owner – you can’t do it all.  Network with other business owners for different perspectives.  Reach out to professionals to help you out.  If you have legal concerns – talk to your lawyer.  Money concerns – talk to  your accountant.  People concerns – talk to an HR Professional.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” —Maya Angelou

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