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The “New Normal” has become an umbrella term to describe the changes brought about by COVID-19. It can and has been used to describe developments related to everything that has undergone a shift of some sort, ranging from social interactions, the economic models of entire regions, and the ways we manage and safeguard our health, just to name a few examples.

Now, as countries, cities, and communities all around the world grapple with different stages of the pandemic, some territories have been able to roll back some restrictions. In these places, the “New Normal” is also being used to describe a post-COVID-19 reality, where the changes and adjustments made during the peak of the outbreak may stay as they are for the foreseeable future, particularly since most experts agree that it will take significantly more time before COVID-19 ceases to be a threat.

This has far-reaching implications for employers and business leaders alike, and even more so for the average executive.

In this first post of PEPWorldwide Asia’s five-part series on what “the New Normal” entails, here are the three main considerations that leaders of businesses need to take note of as they navigate a changing business landscape:

Identify Current Key Pain Areas

A team working in Singapore will be facing different realities compared to a team in Vietnam or Hong Kong, even if they are within the same organization. Different cities within the same country might be grappling with different challenges related to COVID-19; they might be at a different phase of the outbreak and are consequently facing different circumstances.

Workers within the same office could also be facing different challenges depending on their job functions, the needs of their roles, and their priorities.

Are you aware of these various challenges? Do you have people who can help you identify or surface the key pain areas your colleagues are grappling with that you urgently need to be aware of?

It may not be possible for you to know every single detail regarding every single challenge your colleagues are facing but it is critical that you identify at least the top three common challenges that you can help your employees with. 

This will demonstrate to your employees that you care and are making the effort to help them through this period, which goes a long way towards building credibility and confidence in your leadership.

Analyze the People Factor

Once you have identified the critical challenges your employees are grappling with, analyze its direct impact on your people as well as how you can help.

As leaders, it is important to recognize that the New Normal and the changes that entail at the workplace and or the company will impact the personal lives of your team members and your employees.

It is highly likely that as we transition towards a post-COVID phase that this period will result in uncertainty, stress, and anxiety, which will impact on everyone in different ways. Whether it is corporate restructuring, right-sizing, pay freezes/cuts, travel restrictions, or even extended work-from-home arrangements, employees will feel the effects not just at the workplace but at home.

This will, in turn, adversely affect their work performance and , most importantly, their health and well-being. 

As such, it is important that businesses give employees the space, time, and support they need to get though this transition, whether it be in the form of health workshops, flexible work arrangements, re-training, or even one-on-one coaching sessions, particularly for your most senior executives who are feeling the crunch.

Adapt with People-Centric Solutions

Commonly proposed solutions include investing in new digital tools and technology to move as much work online as possible, making work-from-home arrangements permanent, or even restructuring the entire business model of a company. With the sheer number of proposed solutions being thrown around, it can get overwhelming and confusing to sift through sometimes contradictory information, especially since much of it may not apply to your company or even work for your employees.

At PEPWorldwide Asia, we advise all our clients to start with their people first. Regardless of industry or sector, people are at the heart of every organization. Whether you are in FMCG, in pharmaceuticals, energy, manufacturing, medical engineering or the public sector, you will not be able to progress and achieve your organization’s objectives without the energy, creativity, and time of your employees.

So with every solution or action that you take to help your business navigate the New Normal, it is critical that you as leaders honest reflect on their effectiveness; are they helping your employees to adapt to an uncertain future or are you just taking stop-gap measures?

Navigating through uncertain, challenging business environments isn’t anything new; for many leaders and executives, it is simply part of their everyday work. COVID-19 however is very different in that it threatens businesses, economies, and livelihoods not through financial upheaval or falling profits (though those are occurring as well). Unlike other challenges of the previous decade, it threatens the very health, wellbeing, and lives of people; workers, consumers, and business leaders alike. Only by taking steps to safeguard and prioritize your people first—an area that PEPWorldwide Asia has demonstrable expertise in—will this challenge be overcome.

About the Contributor:

Hidhir Razak is the Corporate Relations Manager of PEPWorldwide Asia. An ardent believer of the power of storytelling and its unique ability to bring people and communities together, Hidhir is a reader, writer, and researcher by training. His articles have appeared on The Middle Ground, Yahoo Singapore, and Poetry.sg while his creative works have appeared in numerous anthologies and collections in Singapore. He holds a Master of Arts degree from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where he specialised in English and Creative Writing

Executive Editor:

Angeline V. Teo is the President and Chief Consultant of PEPWorldwide (Asia) Pte. Ltd. She is also an International Speaker, certified Master PEP Consultant, Executive Coach and Author. Above all, she is a caring Mother of two, a loving Wife, filial Daughter and avid Spa and Vacation addict!

PEPWorldwide Asia is the award-winning arm of PEPWorldwide, a global business consultancy that specialises in human capital and organisational development. PEPWorldwide Asia was recognised as the “Most Trusted Corporate Development Consultancy” at the 2020 edition of the Singapore Business Awards, organised by APAC Insider. At the Innovation & Excellence Award 2020, organised by Corporate LiveWire, United Kingdom, PEPWorldwide Asia was also named “Corporate Development Consultancy of the Year”. For enquiries, please email communications@pepworldwideasia.com, we will be happy to customise our solutions for you and your team.