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The new norm - post-COVID working

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Published: 17 July 2020

Lecturer in Business Elisha Kwasi Anti at the University of Sunderland in London

Lecturer in Business, Elisha Kwasi Anti discusses the shift from working in the office to working from home and how businesses have adapted to a new way of doing things since the lockdown started.

“The long-term effects of COVID-19 have not been established yet. We probably won’t understand the real impact of the virus on our lives for a long time. It’s a real possibility that we’ll see an economic depression or financial downturn in the future.

That is something all businesses have to be prepared for. Thanks to my role as a management and leadership academic, I’m often asked questions like how will COVID-19 affect how businesses run? 

Will we ever go back to the normal way of doing things? Will the strategies and practices businesses use to plan, monitor, control, direct and lead the resources under our control be the same post-COVID-19?

Over the last few months, a new phrase has become very popular - the ‘new norm’. All that means is a change in how we usually do things and this ‘new norm’ will change the way businesses, clients and human resources will be managed after the pandemic.

Before the lockdown, the business environment was tied to our offices, our equipment and people. COVID-19 has transformed our work environments from the confined physical office to the ‘virtual home office’.

The real question is how are management and leadership going to be practised in empty physical offices but fully packed virtual home offices? How do you manage and lead companies on a totally virtual basis?

Past research had suggested that a relaxed model of management is less effective than more hands-on approaches, but by being forced to work from a physical distance, we can start asking if the hands-off approach might start to become more effective, and even the way forward. 

It’s possible that organisations that haven’t worked to build an independent workforce might find themselves struggling with the new norms or distanced work. Whatever the future of business practice, one thing is clear, Change is coming. In fact, change is already here.

Businesses, professionals, practices and people in general, will be impacted by the events of the past few months well into the future.

As a community, we’re learning from what we did, right or wrong, in the pre-COVID-19 years, and coming up with how things can be done differently going forward. It’s vital that businesses start thinking about the ‘virtual home office’ and the ways we manage it.

After all, good leaders adapt to the situations and conditions they find themselves in. We need to have a flexible approach to management and leadership, one that fits into our new and complex environment.

It’s generally agreed that good management uses the right style and approach at the right time and place. Now is the time to do exactly that.”

Elisha Kwasi Anti teaches on the BA (Hons) Business and Management, Master of Business Administration (MBA) and BA (Hons) Business Management and Entrepreneurship (Top-Up) courses at the University of Sunderland in London. You can find out more about Elisha on his profile page.

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