Discussions around adjusting to a ‘new normal’ are intriguing. What do we mean by a new normal? Rather than focusing on a new normal, would it be more useful to fire up our imagination, intention and abilities to create more meaningful work practices that are beneficial to people and the planet.

Rather than thinking in a linear fashion, replacing one thing with another, we have the chance to think systemically and holistically about our lives and workplaces. Rather than bouncing back to what was, or filling the space of what was with something ordinary, we have the opportunity to redesign and renovate the places we work to be extraordinary.

The genie is well out of the bottle regarding a hybrid working world; people want flexibility it is 2023. There are so many reasons to change our perspectives and patterns of behaviour about how and why we work and to question the current systems, structures and heuristics we have in place and the assumptions we hold.

One of those is the idea that “we’ve always done it this way”. We may think this consciously or not; the mindset of having always done something in a particular way can hold us in places that are no longer productive, helpful or meaningful. We’ve simply become creatures of habit, caught in a mindset trap.

Our greatest strength comes from being Human and our super-power is our creativity. It is our greatest natural resource, fully sustainable and renewable when given the right conditions. Strong technical skills are always needed that’s a given. We also know that many technical skills will be disrupted by artificial intelligence and technologies that can learn and do manual tasks and routine activities faster than humans. The areas that are increasingly needed are human skills and qualities like communication, learning, empathy, creativity, collaboration.

We have the ability to learn and adapt and apply our creative intelligence to the complex contexts and conundrums we face as individuals, communities and organisations.

When we invite and encourage people back into the workplace let’s ask for what reason? What’s our purpose? If we’re just asking people to sit at a desk, send emails and write reports those activities can be done from anywhere most of the time. Alternatively, we can be intentional about how we create our workplace environments to enable connection, serendipity, spontaneity, creativity, and improve communication, meaning, and wellbeing.