Almost every business practice changes over time. A new technology or new way of working takes root and, slowly, the world of work evolves. But the last few weeks haven’t been about evolving from an old normal to a new normal, because evolution has had nothing to do with it.

Like the asteroid strike that wiped out the dinosaurs, Covid-19 has wiped out traditional ways of working.

Once upon a time, a creative freelancer would largely offer his or her services within a geographical bubble. If you lived in London, that’s where your customers were. It wasn’t simply a matter of the day-to-day sharing of ideas, it was the face-to-face interactions that could turn a one-off project into a long-term business relationship. In the old normal, human interaction was important, because wherever possible we naturally liked to buy from people we knew and trusted.

Over the years, driven by better and more intuitive communications platforms, those bubbles may have been expanding, but they were still bubbles. In that old normal, there was little point in offering a creative service to a wide geographical area because clients still wanted to meet their creatives (and vice versa).

As important, if a creative was being brought on for a specific project, it was likely that project would have other stakeholders – from marketing or sales, or others with an input, however trivial. Now, with office-based staff working remotely, there is a new mindset around chat apps and video conferencing. Collaborative platforms have become the new normal.

For staff who have to work from an office, the new normal may mean offices opening earlier and closing much later so that staff can work in shifts. For some, it may mean offices being open seven days a week. For most companies, remote working has become the norm and, even if a vaccine is found, the old mindset has been broken. Dinosaur ways of doing business are being chucked away forever, and companies are discovering how to manage remote staff. The new consensus seems to be that, while new ways of working had been on the radar, Covid-19 has shifted timescales.

That new consensus is particularly important for freelance creatives because the new normal is no longer about face-to-face collaboration. The new normal has moved collaboration to Skype or Zoom It means that, for creatives, the bubble they could market to has expanded exponentially. For the first time, if you’re a gifted graphic designer living on a remote island you are on an equal par with other gifted designers.

No longer is it about where you work from. It’s about how good you are.

The new normal is therefore about making sure that you are the very best you can be. That creative course you were thinking about a few months ago? To make yourself relevant in the new normal, that course is no longer an option. In planning for your future in the new normal, remember that the asteroid has already struck. Seismic shockwaves are changing how we’ll work from now on.

The dinosaurs weren’t equipped to deal with that changed world. Are you?


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