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COVID-19 and the New Normal

20 August 2020
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By Kate Broadley, Executive Manager Employee Selection Panel Assistance, Eden Ritchie Recruitment

No one fully foresaw the extent of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Business has been disrupted and the professional landscape as we know it has changed forever. Businesses are responding to these challenges by reassessing what they do, reconfiguring their structure and workforce to adapt to the disruption and prepare for the new normal.

When this crisis first hit, our first response was to react to the immediate challenges and threats, ensuring the health and safety of our staff by moving to remote based work, meeting the needs of our clients, making quick decisions and adjusting these on a daily basis as new information came to hand. Working in recruitment where client interaction forms much of the daily goings-on, has meant we have had to shift towards the use of virtual communication platforms such as Zoom and MS Teams so that we can conduct interviews, client meetings, candidate screening and generally everything that has been previously been done face to face – is now done largely from the desk at home.

We have had tools for this purpose for some time, however while I had widely used Skype with my public sector clients to interview candidates who were unable to attend in person, this type of digital platform generally had not previously had a high uptake, with clients preferring the face to face interaction. With the onset of the global pandemic we were left with no other choice but to quickly adapt to the use of these digital alternatives. There was no time for resistance to change. While many of us have struggled to adjust with the modifications and alteration to the status quo as we knew it, those that adapt survive!!

I get it – most businesses see face to face interaction as important and are familiar with operating within a physical office and this method of operation is certainly great for team building, collaboration and camaraderie. Navigating the nuances of communication, can be quite tricky in the absence of personal contact. But what we have now learnt is that these activities don’t need a physical office to be successful and can be effectively undertaken via these online mediums. Some senior officers are even opening their MS Teams meeting for a particular time slot and allowing their colleagues to “pop in” – it’s really just like your office. You can sit there, open up your MS Teams or Zoom meeting, put on mute and then wait for someone to pop in for a chat. It is informal and creates the opportunity for the casual connection you would have had while in the physical office.

I don’t know if this is a glimpse into our future workplace or whether our use of digital mediums will disappear as soon as the virus recedes (and yes, I am praying it will). But what I have learnt is that resilience is key when dealing with a crisis, and as we navigate our path forward, everyone’s resilience will be tested.





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