As the world gradually emerges from lockdown, we look to different countries and their businesses for some top tips on coping with the new normal.
Since March our habits have changed dramatically. Enforced lockdown has led us to re-evaluate, re-value and re-calibrate our lives. Many of us have had to bed in new routines. We have had to balance work and family life more finely and re-arrange our attitudes to work and home.
But now, countries are easing lockdown rules and people are emerging to the ‘new normal’. And while some lockdown routines are worth keeping, many of us are keen to revisit much-missed pre-Covid habits.
So what will the new normal look like and how can we approach it with confidence? Here are some top tips on how to make the most of post-lockdown life.
The suddenness of lockdown forced us to pull up the drawbridge and avoid physical social contact quite suddenly. The message of staying at home was clear and simple. In contrast, the new normal is all about flexibility. As guidelines change from one week to another, we need to expect and embrace a certain level of flux.
Planning holidays, for example, will remain tricky, unless you are prepared to change plans at short notice. Holiday providers and hotels are increasingly offering deals that include generous cancellation terms to entice customers. In Austria, many are reopening with free cancellation options as they prepare to welcome guests from neighbouring countries. UK travel providers are following suit, so make sure you take advantage of such offers when planning a potential trip.
Flexibility is also crucial in other parts of life. Flexible working, for example, will remain vital, as parents juggle childcare duties and workloads. Angharad Salazar Llewellyn, founder of The Flex Network, believes lockdown has accelerated the conversation around flexible working. She recommends keeping an open mind when it comes to figuring out what works best: “One evergreen piece of advice is to always think about how flexible working benefits your employer as well as your own personal situation. It’s important to recognise that it’s not just a one-way street.”
The period of lockdown has highlighted the importance of local community and a local network. With some neighbours shielding or being unable to access services or products, many businesses sprang into action. Local eateries and grocery suppliers pivoted their businesses to deliver missing essentials, others supported customers with positive messaging or inspiration.
For example, South East London-based skincare brand Five Dot Botanics decided to stop all marketing messages for about four to six weeks. “As a skincare brand we have a lot of personal insight into people’s lives, as they message us on social media or engage with our content,” says founder Zaffrin O’Sullivan. “We became a brand that was there simply to reassure people.”
The company self-funded a hand sanitiser project, producing and giving away hundreds of hand sanitisers to its local community. It also ran one local area delivery service, selling out within a couple of hours. “It was an incredible feeling, dropping off the deliveries on our daily walk,” says O’Sullivan. “I think people bought from us because they were interested in investing in their skincare and also as a sign of support for small local businesses.”
Many cities have noticed this positive new attitude of solidarity and support. Catarina Erceg of Visit Berlin says this has translated into an new-found enjoyment of local products and experiences. It forms a core part of Berlin’s post-lockdown priorities, a trend that is worth nurturing as we get used to the new normal.
People have also developed a new appreciation of the outdoors as their worlds re-focus towards their immediate environments. According to Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, in the UK there has been a marked increase in searches during lockdown for properties with gardens. More people are thinking of moving to the country, and a fall in emissions globally has fanned a desire to pursue a more sustainable life.
And even if your personal space is lacking in green, you can still build outdoors time into your new normal. Cities across the world are making more space for two wheels, with pop-up cycle lanes or temporarily shut roads. Taking advantage of such infrastructure to promote a more active lifestyle is a healthy way to adapt to post-lockdown life.
Emerging from lockdown will be strange. Face masks, queues for shops, different hygiene and interaction rules combine to make the new normal distinctly alien. Shops and restaurants are figuring out how they can offer Covid-secure experiences, which will necessarily be different from pre-Covid times.
That is not, however, a reason to avoid such ‘new normal’ experiences. Livia Manca di Villahermosa, founder of Butterfly Mark certified Balance Holidays, has been based in Italy with family for the past few months and has seen a level of fear take hold due to misinformation and over-saturation of information. As a result people are choosing not to resume their lifestyles in favour of staying safe. Her advice is to follow local government’s guidelines but also to “go out there, socialise and live”.
Many venues are being creative in offering innovative experiences to those emerging from lockdown. Michelin-starred restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, for example, has reinvented itself for the new normal. It is relaunching as a pop-up wine bar offering outdoor drinks and burgers until it can resume normal service. A restaurant in Amsterdam offers socially distanced dining in mini greenhouses, and New Zealand’s Nourish group of restaurants is offering restaurant-quality home delivery.
With the best will in the world, life will not return to previous levels of normal for a long time. So why not maintain some of the hobbies and likes you developed during lockdown?
As Five Dot’s O’Sullivan puts it, “In a world where passive entertainment dominates, lockdown gave people time to find pleasure elsewhere as well as manage anxiety and fear. People absolutely are thinking about what does it mean to live a better life.”
Whether it’s baking sourdough, following a Zoom arts lecture or making time for mindfulness, new activities have helped people process their worries and stress. “A lot of people loved experiencing fitness without the frills, breezy strolls in the park, the importance of healthy, nutritious food. A very big wake up call,” says Balance Holidays’ Manca di Villahermosa. “We predict a rise in back-to-basics focused wellbeing and wellness in its original form as a means of staying physically and mentally well.”
Keeping some of these habits will help people make the most of their time, as individuals and the world adjusts.
If you want to connect with us, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay well and stay positive.
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