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Jul 6, 2021

In this episode of the NEXT NORMAL, we explore how our experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic have sharpened or changed our sense of meaning – the meaning of words, the meaning of rituals, the meaning of relationships and values.

Ujwal Arkalgud is a Cultural Anthropologist, CEO and co-founder of Motivbase. He and his team have made some interesting observations over the course of the pandemic.

[6:48] Ujwal- “One of the fascinating areas of change is how we think about joy in our lives...Meaning always changes. It's just, the pandemic has accelerated it in certain areas. ”

Sarah Thorne is President and CEO of Decision Partners. She says this intense focus on the meaning of our health and values has informed and shifted the behaviour of most people since the pandemic hit us in March 2020.

8:40] Sarah- "They were taking risk assessment into their own hands and trying to make decisions about trade-offs, what they could do and couldn't do and what they felt comfortable doing. And what kind of self protective behaviours, whether or not they would go to a restaurant or ride public transportation. And here we are over a year later, we are making those same decisions, only much, many more decisions and much more complex now.”

Dave Hardy, President and CEO of Hardy Stevenson and Associates, is an urban planner who says our collective COVID experience has caused a shift in values when it comes to where we live and how we live.

[11:17] Dave - “And we're reassessing, should we be living in the core of a city? We're rethinking living in a suburban or rural area. We can see a transition now of a lot of people, you know, lost jobs and people, and there’s so many cities around the world have lost people, but suburban or rural areas, that’s where people are rethinking their values. And I need to be in a place where there's space, where it can be with family, friends, and so on. And I need to be in a home that I can be safe in as well. So that that's a huge value shift going on that has been significantly affected by COVID.”

And Lisa Taylor specializes in the #FutureofWork. Lisa is the President of Challenge Factory. Clearly the economic lockdowns not only affected how we work, but we’ve been left to our own devices in many cases to make decisions we may have otherwise taken for granted.

[13:08] Lisa- “I think one of the things that it has really shaken is the way that you're ‘supposed to’ navigate through life. So Dave, the way that you are ‘supposed to’ choose where you're going to live and what your relationship is between work and life and learning and time horizons. And should you take transit or shouldn't you, how do you make health-related decisions? Because we've been put in the driver's seat in some ways to make all kinds of decisions without social cues, without being in contact with other people where we can see, well, ‘How's everyone else making this decision?’”

In the next episode, Lisa will reflect on the deeper challenges and opportunities we will need to address head on as employers and employees in the post pandemic workplace.