Guest Blog: Michael Prager – New Normal isn’t coming – it’s here, now

Work from Home (WFH hereafter) isn’t a response to Covid, it’s now a mainstream part of how we will live our lives. 

Work from Home (WFH hereafter) isn’t a response to Covid, it’s now a mainstream part of how we will live our lives.  It was always coming, Covid just got us there faster. Can you imagine any firm ever having 100% of its employees working in their offices for 100% of the workweek again?

Zoom & Teams, or their successors will be the medium by which a significant proportion of all future meetings take place. Physical, in person meetings will restart when the worst of the pandemic is behind us, but there are CFO’s all over the world now asking line management, ”you know that meeting that you & your team have to attend every year in (pick a city), well you managed it pretty well during lockdown on Zoom so why not…..”

Online as a percentage of total retail sales grew from 18.1% in September 2019 to 32.8% in May 2020 (it fell back to 26.6% in August, the last date for which data is available but that is still a huge jump). High St retail will not win this back from online, that’s a structural change.  Retailers and High Streets will have to adjust to that with much more mixed-use development, sandwich shops like Pret in suburban locations and click & collect stores a permanent feature.

Because we got here so quickly, it will inevitably take some time for business to adjust and find the new advantages our new working world offers but adjust it will, as it always does.

So what does this all add up to?

Well a more efficient world, that is for sure. But also, a more isolated and siloed world. Staying connected, maintaining social closeness (there is an idea) and good emotional and mental health when a major part of our working lives will be spent alone is going to need managing. Top tips for doing this include

  • Go to work, even if it’s on the dining room table


  • Don’t treat every day like Sunday. If you’re going to work, dress for work, maybe not the whole nine yards but not trackies and an old tee shirt either. Summer is over now so the idea of a tailored shirt & cuff links above the desk and swimmers below the desk, with a post it note on the monitor that says,’ don’t stand up’ – yes we probably all did it, are finished.   Work needs defined boundaries in time and attitude, or it loses its gravitas


  • Take coffee breaks – go to your neighbourhood café/coffee shop


  • You’re working from home but you aren’t chained to a laptop or a desk any more than you were in the office. Walk or cycle down to your local coffee shop, take your laptop or tablet if you want but get a change of scenery and pace at least once a day


  • Have virtual one to one time with bosses, direct reports and peers


  • Typically those zoom meetings are big production events with the whole team involved. They don’t have to be. A discussion forum for idea generation, a ‘sense check’ with peers, just like you used to do in the corridor, all work virtually too. Small zooms, planned on the hoof if need be, will help to keep you connected


  • Use the full range of technology available to you to keep you focused on the high value activities of your job


  • You can share white boards; you can dictate straight into virtual apps like Siri or Cortana so that you don’t have to use your keyboard all of the time. You can start strings of chat about specific subjects, you can do a lot of stuff. Take the Microsoft, Apple or Google tutorials and see how technology can replace the labour that you’ve been used to in getting things done


  • Dedicate some more ‘me’ or family time from the commute time you’ve released


  • None of us planned to change the way our lives and particularly work lives have changed but it’s here, it’s not going back to the way it was so we had better make the best of it. That means getting something out of this new normal for employees as well as employers. You’ve just saved anywhere up to three hours a day not commuting, you’ve probably also saved a fair chunk of change on not buying season tickets. Repurpose some of those gains for you and your family or friends


  • Hold regular team meetings on virtual apps


  • You’re probably already doing these but virtual is replacing physical so don’t feel constrained to only do the big company events. There are free instances of Zoom and others that you can use as your own virtual space to replicate the meetings; small and large, ad hoc and planned that were a useful part of your office work life (don’t replicate the useless ones obviously).

How about changing the world?

One of the few real benefits of lockdown and its slow release is that we have collectively and in fairness unintentionally done more for the natural world in six months than we did in the last six years. Shall we keep that momentum going?  David Attenborough, in his recent interview with Breakfast TV’s Louise Minchin, when asked, ‘What is the most important thing we can all do for the planet now’? replied, “Don’t Waste. Don’t waste electricity, don’t waste food, don’t waste power”.  Well we agree with that.  It’s what we do so if you fancy a chat about how our AI powered energy monitoring system EMMA AI can provide you with the means of achieving that we’re up for it.  Virtually, physically, and socially distanced, telephonically or any other way you fancy.

Michael Prager is Chairman of Optimal Monitoring Ltd, the designer & developer of EMMA AI, an award winning energy monitoring & management system using artificial intelligence to turn consumption data into ‘fix it’ instructions that go straight to the appropriate resource and curated  data for use in long term performance improvement analysis, investment appraisal & project validation.

This is a promoted article.

Latest Podcast