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The New Normal: Rajesh Ramakrishnan, Perfetti Van Melle India

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Rajesh Ramakrishnan, MD, Perfetti Van Melle India, says that while many things will remain the same post-COVID, a few things will undergo permanent structural changes to forge a new normal

It has been more than six weeks since the lockdown was announced in India. We have all adjusted to it in different ways. For some of us, work from home (WFH) has become the new norm – we are using technology more than ever before and are rediscovering our passions. Meanwhile, for a large part of society, it has been a tough experience. They have been displaced from their homes and their work, and are keen to return to their villages, despite the several obstacles. And then there are front-line workers, those who are fighting the virus on the ground and keeping all of us safe, and very often in difficult circumstances.

No matter who we are, one thing is sure – that life will not be the same again. It is not as if life was smooth and peaceful pre-COVID. The world did witness its fair share of calamities, both natural and man-made. We all waded our way through and emerged in one piece. Life went on. But what is different this time around, is that we will see some structural changes in the way we go about life. This pandemic has made us question paradigms, bust myths and reshaped our thinking. It has made us re-evaluate a lot of things that we took for granted, and challenged our beliefs that these things could be done only in one particular way. As we move towards the exit from the lockdown, we are moving towards a new normal.

A new way of life, where a lot of things will remain the same, yet many things will change. I have tried to capture below some of the dimensions of this new NORMAL.

Nurture Relationships

Through the lockdown period, I have been having daily calls with 10 randomly picked colleagues to understand how they and their family are managing through this period. One of the things that I heard back from many of them is that they have been reconnecting with friends and relatives after a long time. In our daily hustle, we often forget to connect and build relationships. According to Ikigai, one of the secrets to a long and happy life is to connect and surround ourselves with positive people. Now is a good time to continue the good habit that we have started during the lockdown.

Optimize Existing Resources

One thing that the lockdown has taught us is that we can actually manage with limited resources. This includes everything from the food that we eat to the physical space where we live in. The only thing which seems to be never enough is probably the strength of the WiFi connection!! I am reminded of my treks, where we all used to be really happy with our simple yet wholesome thali, and fall into a deep sleep in our sparse room with just a warm rug over us. If you really think about it, we don’t need too much to get by and we will be doing our future generations a big favour by optimising our existing resources.

Respect Our Planet

Suddenly a lot of people are talking about the fact that they are getting to see deep blue skies, breathe fresh clean air, hear birds chirping in the morning and see peacocks coming out to dance. The lockdown has led to the “unlocking” of nature and it would be really good if we are able to sustain this going forward. Some questions that we should ask ourselves- Do I really need to make that work trip? Can I carpool? Does everyone need to come to work every day? And so on.

Make The Most Of Opportunities

They say that “opportunity only knocks once”. I sure hope so, we don’t want another COVID knocking at our doors anytime soon. However, this has also thrown open so many opportunities and possibilities. We are all discovering new ways to create, connect, and collaborate. Music videos and ads are being created by different people sitting at different locations. People are discovering new passions from cooking to painting to reading. Keep them going.

Adaptability Is Key

The lockdown has shown us that we are fairly adaptive as humans. Who would have thought we could all stay locked up at home for weeks at a stretch and come out of it fairly sane. We have all found ways to continue with our work and life sitting in our homes. Corporates, Educational institutions, Entrepreneurs, Traders have all adapted to the current reality to figure out ways of keeping things going. Business models are being tweaked and partnerships are being forged, to adapt to the situation. And this is likely to continue as we go forward.

Leverage Technology

If there is one thing that we have all learnt to embrace, it is Technology. We have all seamlessly moved on to Zoom, Teams, Houseparty and Google Hangouts. We use them for pretty much everything- yoga classes, piano lessons, office calls, “drinking” sessions, birthday parties and even weddings and funerals. Technology seems to be cutting across age, gender and socio-economic strata. How do we make this the new norm- use this more effectively and efficiently for managing our life, while still retaining human connections.

As we enter a new NORMAL, there are many things that will remain the same, but a few things will undergo some structural changes that are here to stay. Hopefully, these will make us better people and the world a better place. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Now is as good a time as any to start that journey.

About the author / 

Rajesh Ramakrishnan

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