Why we should strive for better than a ‘new normal’

Middle aged black man entering the foyer of modern building

As we return physically, gradually and safely back to our places of work, we must learn from our home-working experiences - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park, explains why we must look beyond the ‘new normal’. 

Much has been written about the lasting impact that Covid-19 will have on society beyond the very obvious and tragic health issues. Over the past 12 months, we have got used to new ways of doing things, especially in business.  

No longer do we physically meet our team in a conference room, drive to another office for a meeting, or bump into people for a chat in the queue for coffee.  

Much of our new practices are to be applauded. The reduction in commuting and travel is great for the planet’s health as it reduces pollution and, in many ways, our well-being has improved as we have gained that time back.  

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park - Credit: Norwich Research Park

Working from home has delivered a greater deal of flexibility to the ‘working day’, resulting often in higher productivity and a better quality of life. Although we also have to recognise that not everything has been beneficial for all. Many people have become isolated and young people have been denied the opportunities to build social relationships with work colleagues, missing out on mentoring and in observing role models. 

We mustn’t simply accept things as the ‘new normal’. After all, the new ways were thrust upon us and we made the best of it, but now is the time to take a more proactive approach and learn from our experiences. 

Now is the time to anticipate what’s in our future, not adapt to what has already happened. We must remain agile and seize this moment as a time for real change. A good parallel is to look at what the brilliant scientists and researchers do here at Norwich Research Park. Our research has no end; it’s a continuum, constantly seeking new knowledge and new answers, improving life for us and our planet throughout.  

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So, let’s make evolution our new stability. Change is not to be feared if it’s considered to be the way to ensure a better future and does not need to be allied to disruption and uncertainty. For our own sake and for the sake of those who come after, we must keep advancing, in science, in our communities, in our businesses and in our lives. 

So, as we return physically, gradually and safely back to our places of work, let’s encourage each other to think differently and take the brave steps together towards a better future. 

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