Striving to Thrive in the New Normal – Sharing What We’ve Learned

31/07/2020By Tim Savage
What have we learned from our collective experience both as individuals and companies, that we can share to ensure we stay mentally and physically healthy both now and in the future, at home and at work?
Thriving in the new normal

I remember arriving in Dubai on March 1st 2020, to work with the Hyatt EMEA Development team on the roll out of their bigger team globalization strategy – another seemingly normal day. During the workshop, the news of a localized virus in China caused the initial reaction of pausing international corporate travel policy.

As we reflected on the progress made during the team workshop, none of us had any inkling of what was to come as the virus developed into a global pandemic, putting the whole world into what would seem to be an uncontrollable tailspin.

Wide scale organisational downsizing has served to seed doubt in the minds of many as to where their next job opportunity and income may come from, and what kind of career path can they expect to find when the familiar has all but disappeared.

We try to find a feeling of comfort by having some degree of control over what happens next. We ask ourselves, do we need to take a different direction in life, or career, or both?

What have we learned from our collective experience?

What have we learned both as individuals and companies – that we can share to ensure we stay mentally and physically healthy both now and in the future, at home and at work?

Recognising the danger of a sense of isolation could be overwhelming and diminish our spirits. So, what are some of the things you can do with your time to ensure that you are not spending it only on worrying about what you are going to do next or in the wider context something you cannot control?

Get out in the fresh air. Go for a walk if jogging or cycling is not your thing and get the anxiety and stress caused by the unknown out of your system.

It makes a huge difference to how you feel about today and tomorrow. Set yourself small targets about distances and times that you want to achieve. Increase them to challenge yourself and gain a sense of motivation and personal achievement. Measure the difference, amplify the feel good factor and get control over something – yourself.

Stimulate your mind. Read a book, start to learn a language or a skill to build your repertoire, try something new and avoid the feeling of being in limbo or at a stand still. Try to capture your feelings of achievement at the end of each week in a simple diary so you can track your progress and personal development.

Review and summarise your key skills and specific expertise on paper – consider how you can use these talents in another environment – be it leadership, customer service, process management – they should all be portable and applicable.

Consider the businesses and sectors that are doing well

In spite of the pandemic they are continuing to look for good people. Now has to be the best time when pro-active businesses are open minded to consider prospective new employees from different backgrounds to inject vitality and creativity into their business approach. As one door closes, another potentially opens.

Think about how you are going to sell yourself to the companies that seem an attractive proposition and get active – the early bird gets the worm.

Over communicate

Remote working and the suspension of activity due to furlough have been challenging for most. Evidence seems to suggest – and I’ve heard some impressive examples – that the good companies continued to follow their value proposition and regularly kept in touch with both their remote working and furloughed employees to check on their well being, keep them connected and to make them feel valued through their consistently demonstrated empathy and interest.

Sadly, there are enough contrasting stories where a lack of interest and contact fuelled the sense of isolation and undermined peoples’ sense of worth which caused them to struggle in this time lacking definition.

Remote working has certainly emerged as a major positive from the lock down.

Businesses that have been agile and nimble have adjusted working processes to accommodate the need. Responsive employers and responsible employees have harnessed technology and found a win-win rhythm together.

For many employees, it has provided a better work life balance opportunity by reducing the stress of commuting and related wasted travel time, increasing productivity and outcomes in most cases.

If there are clear rules in place that define expectations and deliverables as part of a culture of trust and opportunity, it makes sense to make remote working a part of the new normal work environment for at least for three days of the week in many cases. The remaining two days a week offer an opportunity for face to face communication and continued investment in sustaining teamwork.

If there are clear rules in place that define expectations and deliverables as part of a culture of trust and opportunity, it makes sense to make remote working a part of the new normal work environment

As a final reflection, employers will need to consider and plan for how they can successfully welcome and integrate employees back into an office environment, from both a hearts and minds perspective.

Will it be part time in an office environment observing all the social distancing protocols as a minimum, combined with home working for the rest of the working week ?

How can leaders be developed to maximise the potential of their people in this new normal?  More sophistication around the skills of communication and team motivation to help manage realistic expectations and ensure employee resilience in the face of continued change seem both obvious and essential.


Tim Savage | thriving in the new normal

Tim Savage

Chief Anthropologist, TSolutions Ltd

An international hospitality industry human resources specialist, Tim brings with him over three decades of rich experience as a human resources and culture change specialist, and a strong industry network. He specialises in providing advice on organisational structure, change management and employee engagement as well as bespoke coaching and development solutions to clients’ critical needs.

Tim has delivered numerous strategic consulting mandates across a broad range of disciplines, working with boards to deliver real value to the human capital strategy, both in the UK and internationally.

Over the last 30 years, Tim has led the human resources teams at a number of world renowned hospitality companies including Forte, Marriott and Le Meridien. Tim most recently served as Chief Human Resources Officer for Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts based in Dubai.

Through his own business TSolutions he has also worked on an independent basis consulting for clients across a broad spectrum of sectors. A true advocate of the importance of cultural sensitivity, Tim is a regular speaker and moderator at key global human resources conferences where his knowledge and experience is both sought after and respected.