Different is the new normal

There is, understandably, much talk of when life will return to normal following the pandemic and lockdown. People are keen to return to the familiar and get on with their lives as they expected them to go. I totally get it. As an autistic person, my routines are hugely important to me. We all take comfort in the familiar.

But I’m afraid I have news for you. When we are released from lockdown and the virus is under control, life will not return to normal as it was before the outbreak. We will be living in a permanently changed world, but we must see that as an opportunity not a problem.

I turned 50 last year (even though I still behave like I’m about 9 most of the time). In my life, living in the UK, I can think of 3 events that I have lived through that will be looked back on as truly historic. The first was the death of Princess Diana, which still reverberates in the UK at least. The second was 9/11 and the other terror attacks of that period, which undoubtedly and obviously changed the world. The third is the current pandemic, where once again we can feel and know that we are living through a key historical event.

But one of the things that makes something a key historical event is that it leads to major changes in the world. The reformation, the world wars, the American civil war – all thankfully before my time but all things that changed the world.

After an event of this magnitude, there are always opportunities. Absolutely not to capitalise on the misfortune or suffering of others – my heart breaks for all those who have lost or will lose loved ones, and I have nothing but contempt for those using the pandemic to profiteer out of fear or to scam the vulnerable. The opportunities are for those who realise that the world has changed and adapt the best and the fastest.

This may well have little or nothing to do with any negative impact of the preceding event. Following the second world war, it is hard to argue that any nations prospered more than the Japanese and the Germans. They had to rebuild, but they rebuilt for the new world rather than trying to carry on in the old.

There are some obvious things that will change after the pandemic. By necessity, this time is proving who the workers are that the rest of us depend on for the absolute necessities like food and healthcare. I hope that we will always value these people as we do now rather than the way many of us did not appreciate them enough in the past.

We are finding that a lot more work can be done remotely than was thought or permitted in the past. That will undoubtedly have an impact. I suspect that many of us will up our hygiene game for some time to come, and it will be very hard, for me at least, not to have a moment of anxiety when someone coughs nearby.

So now is the time to consider how we can make the changed world work for us and our businesses. For example, I work in an office and tend to pick up a few things by going into shops on my way to and from work. If I am working at home more, I will inevitably end up shopping more online as the shops I need are not all close to where I live whereas many of them are close to my office in the town centre. So there is a potential opportunity there for more ecommerce. That that then has knock on effects. I am a writer and copywriter, so I will hope that there is more call for my services in drafting website material, sales emails and so on. How will the new world impact you – now is the time to start thinking.

But there will also be as yet unseen opportunities that will open up first to those that spot them and come up with solutions. Here is where creative and unconventional thinking is required. There is a group of people, many of whom are unemployed against their wishes, who could not think conventionally even if they had to. Neuro-diverse staff, such as those who are autistic, dyslexic, have ADHD or any other such conditions will be prized assets. Now is the time to be seeking out these people and getting them signed up to work with you.

You see, we neuro-diverse people have a lifetime of experience to adapting to a strange world because the world has seemed very strange and illogical to us from the day we were born. We think differently and we come up with lots of fresh ideas. We are exactly what is needed to rebuild. Those that recognise this the fastest will do the best.

So while we mourn the present sorrows, we must all look to the future, for it is coming. Think, plan and adapt, and get help from those who are experts at this. We

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