What does getting back to “normal” look like?

Celeste, a woman, standing in front of a silver metal mural art piece.

I have spent a good amount of time lately, wondering about “normal”. I can tell you this: Nothing is normal about managing a team that I’ve never been in the same room as any member of. Nothing is normal about working from home for the past 9 months in my pajamas (as comfortable as that might be). There’s nothing normal about any of 2020, a year which goes down in infamy for many of us, I’m sure.

What does getting back to “normal” in the workplace even mean? Is there a way to do so? Would you want to, if you could?

For me, personally, normal looks like being in the office most days, not wearing a mask, and not having to avoid incidental touching or strictly remaining 6′ away from any other human (and their pets!) I don’t mind videoconference meetings, but would prefer to have the option of VC-ing from the office, even if everyone else in my meeting dials in from their various locales. Normal means hosting team events like lunches and gaming days that include ordering in food, open bottles of water, soda, and beer, and conversation with my peers. Normal means having a snack table and jigsaw puzzle table near my team’s desks. Normal means having access to a whiteboard, and using it to assist with discussing and shaping half-formed ideas. Normal means wearing pants on a video call (because you wouldn’t be able to make it all the way to the office in your stuffed-animal slippers while lacking bottoms! Wouldn’t you?) Normal means coffee or cocktails with my mentors and mentees (not all at once!)

However, I can feel nostalgic about these without having a clear path to return to any of them. I’m excited about the news of a vaccine, though I am one of those personalities who needs to see it before I believe it. Show me the vaccine! 😀

I know that I would go back into the office as soon as it opened up, freely, for group use, without the distancing and mask requirements. Would you?

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