As we approach the two-year mark of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, we have learned much about how we work. We quickly adapted to stay-at-home orders and adopted remote working technologies that kept us just as productive as we were at the office five days a week. But as we have started returning to the office, what does the new normal look like?
To answer this, the Economist created a ‘normalcy index’ to measure and understand what has changed over the past twenty-two months. The index looks at three variables:
- How transport use has changed across flights, roads, and public transportation
- How leisure time has changed looking at movies, professional sports, and time away from home
- How commercial activity changed through shopping and office traffic
The index assessed the current activity and compared it to levels before the pandemic in all of the areas listed. Then it averaged the changes and weighted it to the population average of 50 countries that account for 90% of the world’s GDP and 75% of our global population. The baseline is 100 for activity before the pandemic.
As you would assume, the level of normalcy dropped dramatically at the beginning of the pandemic, dropping to 35 by the middle of April. By the beginning of 2021, the index was at 60, and at the beginning of Q4, it was 79. The newest Omicron variant of the virus has likely slowed additional growth and may have caused a drop in the index in some regions.
According to the index, inoculation of a majority of adults will expedite a return to near pre-pandemic normalcy levels. However, this alone will not be enough. According to the index, “Three of our measures of behaviour—flights, cinemas and sporting attendance—have been curtailed by government bans. Activity among our remaining five indicators has been affected more by individual or organisational decisions and, since the most severe restrictions have been lifted, they are no longer influenced by government actions. Globally, retail footfall is now above pre-pandemic norms, and time spent outside the home is near normal too, as people venture out again.”
With the proliferation of work from home hybrid office models, we may never see the same level of commercial activity as we did before. We think of the new normal as the most significant day-to-day impact we’ll likely experience is in our professional lives. The freedom to work when and where we want a few days a week (or every day of the week depending on your company’s policy) will provide a level of professional freedom we’ve never experienced.
We’ve already seen the first phase of this phenomenon with the ‘great resignation.’ Many employees have decided to find roles that better align with their values and needs. As 2022 starts, job openings are at or near record highs, and many of these roles are available as fully remote positions. From a professional point of view, the new normal is truly the beginning of a workplace revolution that will play out over the coming years.
If the new normal has created organizational hiring needs at your company, send us a note, and we can help you navigate the new hiring landscape.