The new normal – how doing business has changed

 

As many people yearn for post-lockdown life and getting back to ‘normal’, being able to turn their backs on the fear and anxiety caused by the pandemic, we are left contemplating what the new normal will look like. There are many positives to take from the last few months that will change the way we work for the better going forward. Think of the fast paced adoption of technology in the NHS – surely we don’t want to ‘unlearn’ all that? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the following and how the changes to working life have affected you, for better or for worse.

Working remotely

The team here at RotaMaster has been working from home since the end of March and will carry on doing so indefinitely. We didn’t go fully remote by choice, but we’ve made the most of it and we have managed to maintain our team work ethic and maintain productivity. Up until recently, remote working was often seen as often seen as 'slacking off’, something a team member would do under special circumstances. It's only now when almost everyone is forced to work from home that the tables have turned. Suddenly, working from home is the norm and we are all learning the etiquette of video calls, how to interact with our colleagues remotely, and how to balance work deadlines with home schooling and other household chores. Businesses have embraced it and many see the huge advantages it can bring.

Even GPs have been working from home as appointments have moved remotely. From a work life balance, many are saying they are much better off. Will this be the new normal? According to a survey by the British Medical Association (BMA), 88 per cent of UK GPs want to keep offering remote consultations to patients in the future. There will always be those who do require face-to-face diagnoses, and many GPs will naturally return to seeing people in person, but there may well be a lingering shift in mindset.

Communication

The way primary care communicates with its patients has changed massively also. se changes in communication have had a large part to play in making remote consultations a success. As GP practices have adopted strict protocols in dealing with patients, they have had to find ways of reaching all corners of the community. Greater use of social media, texting services, websites and messaging apps such as WhatsApp have all been used to great effect. Effective communication has been integral to their entire response and has probably changed the landscape forever whilst helping to build better relationships and outcomes with patients.

Events and conferences

We would normally attend about 10 conferences a year, to showcase our products and meet potential customers. These are clearly not going to happen again any time soon, and we are being offer online substitutes, digital conferences, something that up until now has never really had much appeal. After all, how can you generate the same buzz and spontaneity of a real life event whilst watching from afar? Online conferences are in their infancy so it feel like we’re heading into the unknown, but given no choice, the concept is gaining momentum and I think people see it as an opportunity to share, learn and engage, whilst travel and face- to-face contact is still restricted. We’ll share our experiences in the coming months.

The new normal

These strange times have forced us all to be flexible and make a success of new ways of working. When you look at the extraordinary rise in the offerings of remote primary care, and the benefits this has brought – alleviating demand in the system for one – this momentum must not be lost.

While face-to-face consultations will surely return, the experience of many patients and health professionals during the crisis will be that remote care is absolutely good enough in many cases, and that when supported with robust digital tools, many patient appointments simply shouldn’t revert back to in person.

As for office-based working, if things do drift back to normal for most office workers, it is to be hoped that the positives are remembered and attitudes to remote working will change for good.