What’s Next?

Blessed be the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape.” ~ Unknown

What’s next? 

As the country emerges from stay-at-home orders and quarantines (some areas faster than others) many of us wonder what awaits on the other side. 

Will we go back to business as it was in January? Or will, we build on whatever lessons we’re learning about remote work, essential workers, office environments, flexible schedules, etc.?

What will be the new normal?

Protocols for the Next Normal

You’ve heard me talk about Chris Brogan before. He’s freaking brilliant. His weekly email newsletter is the first thing I read every Sunday morning. (If you’re not subscribing to Chris’s newsletter go to his website, www.chrisbrogan.com/nl/ and sign up, he’s wicked smaht).

Chris talks about the “next normal” as opposed to a new normal. He notes that the world is about fluidity right now. While we crave foundations and solid structures, currently we’re on shifting sands. To be successful “we need to bend like reeds…we need to operate such that we can thrive with fewer constraints.”

So what does that mean for your career and your job? 

Like Elizabeth Warren, Chris has a plan for that (sort of). He talks about the protocols for the next normal. These are the new rules of engagement for success in a constantly shifting business and work environment. They include things like:

  • Compact–Chris notes that we’re “data exhausted;” and we need information to be “brief, compact, and repeated.”
  • Better work means that we need to stop wasting time with extra meetings and “stupid accountability” methods, only because we haven’t learned to manage remotely.
  • Tech upgrade means that if we want to work remotely, we need to be well versed in remote and mobile apps. 
  • Collabs and pick up games is a concept Chris has developed that is ripe for more fluid interactions. “Job monogamy” will no longer exist. We’re going to have more than one boss at a time; belong to more than one team. We’ll be tasked with doing more stuff for more people.

What Does This Mean for You?

The big thing is learning to be agile. No one really knows what is next. We’ll all be making it up as we go along. But (there’s always a “but”), there are two key qualities you need to embrace:

  • Value problem solving over experience. For years I’ve told clients that if I write a resume for you, one phrase that won’t be included is “X years of experience.” Tenure does not equate to value. You need to show value, and the best way to do that is to tell stories about your problem-solving abilities.
  • Hone your social and empathy skills. As noted above, you’re going to be working with many other folks on many different teams. You need to be able to interact and lead. You can’t be the person who isolates others. You can’t be the last person selected for the team.

The world of work will be different than it was in January. It may take a while. Just like the rest of us, organizations crave structure and solid ground. But while we’ve gone too far to turn back, we don’t know what will be different.  

Employees will demand remote work with more flexibility as they have to homeschool kids and care for aging parents. 

Some employees who were furloughed, may not be invited back. Those that return need to be more agile and demonstrate the value they bring. They need to show agility in a fluid world.


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