They say it takes 21 days to make a habit, and 90 days to make a lifestyle change.

As I sit here in my home office writing this blog post, I count 138 days since Cornerstone sent all of our employees home to work in safety. That’s 48 days beyond the “lifestyle change” mile marker. A whole extra month and a half.

So. How is everyone doing?

The world is still reeling of course. Here in the United States, where we are headquartered, we have our own escalating situations to face as well. But as we keep moving forward into this “New Normal”, are we still in the mindset that this is all temporary? Or have we all committed yet to an actual lifestyle change?

And if this has become a lifestyle change, how much of “Back To Normal” is going to be … well … normal? Or will the old ways be as foreign to us as working permanently from home was 138 days ago?

The Cornerstone Book Club discussed these questions and came up with the following analyses and conclusions.

Normalizing our Digital Existence

After conducting informal polls – both internally, externally, and within our Cornerstone Book Club, we’ve realized that a fair number of people are hitting a sweet spot right now in their digital existence. It’s beginning to feel normal to work from home, to host and attend digital events, to socially distance, and to remember to bring our masks to the grocery store.

Besides just this normalization from experience, we have been inundated with articles, blogs, and even webinars discussing how to best be productive and efficient employees while in this situation. Leaders have been encouraged to adapt in order to best manage. Even here at Cornerstone, we’ve written our own based on the advice of our employees who worked from home prior to the pandemic. Newly remote employees consumed content about best practices and “what to expect” to a saturation point. We’ve digested all of the tips and tricks, and we’ve woven them into our own lives.

We’ve made it work. The evidence is in the fact that our companies are still being productive, still working efficiently, and still servicing all of our clients. This is great news! The business world has endured, and will continue to endure. We’ve adapted, and hopefully that was the hard part.

A Temporary Fix? Or A Truly “New Normal”?

It’s been 138 days since this author first went into a quarantine situation. That’s decidedly more than the 90 days that experts claim it takes to form a lifestyle change.

138 days of virtual meetings, of intermittent technical issues, of not being able to meet clients face to face, of not traveling, of celebrations over web browsers, of socialization via Yammer.

138 days of no commuting, of working with my cat on my lap, of baking bread over my lunch break, of seeing more of my family.

For all of the negatives that our informal polls have unearthed, there are almost as many positives that people have experienced in this time. Granted, some self-described extroverted employees have found themselves chafing under the weight of isolation, but other self-described introverted employees have found themselves operating with more energy and efficiency than they ever have before. For some, motivation to do one’s best has been never come easier thanks to this new environment.

So the question really becomes: is this situation truly temporary anymore? Once the Earth has a working vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, will the business world just pack up our home offices and return to the way it was? Will we simply give up our extra time with family, pets, and fresh loaves of bread for the long commutes and social environment of the office? Will our self-described introverted colleagues have to go back to an uncomfortable grind after finding a working situation that made them so much more productive?

“Pivot Or Perish”

Our CEO Mat Orrego wrote a piece published in The Company Dime in which he [professed the mindset of]  “Pivot or Perish”. Especially given our realities in the COVID world, businesses must pivot into embracing new ideas, or they will be left behind. In Orrego’s own words:

“History has taught us that “big” ideas emerge from crisis, and these ideas become accelerants to confront difficult choices that were easy to push off during better times … The choice to pivot a business model is often forged from economic necessity. Now is the best moment to do something different.”

Orrego also addressed the business sides of those personal matters that we have been discussing in this article:

“We are working smarter because of the forced mass adoption of platforms such as Slack and Zoom. As a result, our interactions and meetings are more flexible and focused. We can qualify and work opportunities from the comfort of our homes without expensive flights, meeting venues, and restaurants. This way of working is starting to feel like a more effective way to run a business.”

So not only are employees benefiting by finding their own new best practices, but businesses are benefiting from the new methods of efficiency and flexibility. Those companies that adapt are going to benefit well beyond this era of change. Those that don’t find their “new normal” are going to fall behind.

Welcome To The Future

One inside joke among a number of our employees is “I love The Future”. In this case, “The Future” can be in reference to some new and amazing technological innovation such as many of the advancements in AI, but it’s also commonly used tongue in cheek to refer to new ways of doing things that either break with preconceived norms or provide some level of extreme convenience that wasn’t available before.

When third party restaurant delivery came to town and we could get sushi delivered to our doorstep? “I love The Future.” Robots that vacuum our floors for us and adorably bump into walls while providing our cats a moving throne? “I love The Future.”

But more and more, that phrase has been used to indicate genuine appreciation for changes in both our working lives and our work-life balance. Flexible hours that allow us to cook a big breakfast for our kids and still have a productive 8-hour workday? “I love The Future”. Going entire work weeks without wearing high heels to the office? “I love and adore The Future”.

And through all of this, productivity has remained on par or better than before the crises.

We at Cornerstone have found our Digital Groove.  We’re sure that as the world adjusts, everyone will find theirs as well.