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The 'New Normal' Is Here to Stay, and You Can Use It to Your Advantage

If you haven't been making the most of the 'new normal,' it's time to start.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Over the course of the pandemic, people went from saying "I can't wait for things to go back to normal" to "Will things go back to normal?" Finally, it seems that we've landed on accepting a "new normal" — and that's not a bad thing. Things will likely never be exactly as they were in 2019 or even early 2020. With the massive changes in the way we live our personal and professional lives, there will be some necessary adjustment. But with that change comes opportunity.

Related: Pivoting During the Pandemic: How These Businesses Succeeded

Will things go back to normal?

Normal is relative, and there are many aspects to "normal" life. The short answer is yes and no. There will be degrees of change in all areas. For some, things may be very similar to the way they were before. In other areas, we'll see larger shifts. The pandemic has changed how we socialize, work and learn. These major areas will likely continue to see shifts as we readjust.

Benefits of the new normal in personal lives

Personally and professionally, the pandemic has its benefits. On the personal side of things, the pandemic has inspired people to make significant lifestyle changes. A survey done by Cleveland Clinic and Parade found that 62 percent of people have made a lifestyle change — people report spending more time outside and in nature, starting or modifying an exercise program, improving sleep patterns and introducing other health-minded dietary changes. Additionally, 34 percent of those surveyed say they're eating healthier food, and 87 percent of those people say it's a habit they'll keep.

People are embracing home workouts and sticking to the habit more too; 28 percent of people say they increased exercise frequency during Covid.

People also report that the pandemic has made them value relationships more. In the same survey, 34 percent of respondents say they feel closer to their family and 78 percent say quarantine helped them value their relationships. Moreover, 52 percent of households with kids report creating new connections, and 27 percent say their kids benefitted from spending more time with family.

Related: The New Normal Is Here To Stay: Businesses Will Only Grow on Cloud

Benefits of the new normal in business

The pandemic made businesses shift online in a rush. As the pandemic stretched on, businesses were able to refine processes and get better at remote work. There are several advantages of this new professional normal:

● Remote work, which increases productivity (91 percent are more productive) and saves companies about $22,000 per employee on average.

● Remote employees also save money as they're purchasing less gas, coffee, lunches and clothing —$4,000 per year!

● Hiring remote employees also opens up your applicant pool — rather than hiring from just one small geographic area, you now have your choice of the global talent pool.

● In-person meetings have been deemed much less important than previously thought. People who once traveled for work constantly now have the ability to stay home with their families and do many of their meetings via a phone call or video conference. Plus, people feel much more positive about digital meetings than they did pre-pandemic.

● Employees working from home save greenhouse gas emissions — employees working remotely in the US save ~3.6 million tons of greenhouse gas each year by avoiding the commute.

● Digital communication is better than ever, as companies were forced to make the shift and get good at it last year.

● Companies now understand the need to be agile and effective online: The pandemic showed us how quickly things can change and how important digital tools are to success in business. Businesses are poised to take quick action when need be.

Related: Hiring Virtual Assistants is the 'New Normal'

The most important thing we can all do now is be open — open to change and open to others. The pandemic, as awful as it is, has highlighted that we're all human, and we're all just doing our best. Whether you hit a positive stride during the pandemic — like all of those reporting healthy changes and stronger family bonds — or not, it's not too late to take advantage. The new normal has plenty of benefits — just like you don't need access to a gym to start a fitness routine, you don't necessarily need an office to be successful at work. For companies, the wins of remote work and new digital abilities offer the opportunity to cut costs and boost productivity. So will things go back to normal? No. Is that a bad thing? You be the judge.

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