Post-pandemic: Does the longing for the familiar win?

Will the post-pandemic world really be that much different? Or is our desire for he „old“ normality so great that we will simply slip back into our familiar patterns?

Fear the unknwon

People don't like change. Moving out of our comfort zone, challenging the status quo and tread unknown territory goes against our grain. This goes for the change process within the company through to adapting personal habits and behavioral patterns.

We shy away from the effort of trying to shake up our everyday routines and stick to the same decision-making patterns over and over again. Even if we actually know that they are harming us. The reason: We are simply used to deciding like this, explains U.S. scientist Angela Duckworth, who researches behavioral patterns.

And even if we bring ourselves to tackle change: There is a great danger that we will give up and fall back into our old ways. This was proved by a research team led by British psychologist Richard Wiseman in a study carried out on New Year resolutions. 88 percent of participants did not manage to stick to them.

Someone holds dominoes labelled Pre-Corona, which fall over, behind him are dominoes labelled Post-Corona.

Post-pandemic: Does the longing for the familiar win?


Are there actually factors that can make us change our behavior in the long term? Yes. They are known as pain or gain. This means either we are scared of negative consequences if we stick to our old habits. Or we believe a change will have so many personal benefits that we are willing to accept any unpleasantness.

When the corona pandemic broke out, we quickly adapted our lifestyles for fear of catching the virus or overwhelming the health system. These changes have since led to a collectively felt loss of normality.
Is our need for a normality - in which we are sure of what we are doing and don't have to constantly reevaluate things and make new decisions - so enormous that we wish everything was how it was before? "The striving for normality from before Corona is great. But what normality is it actually that is to be restored? Wouldn't now be the ideal time to decide which things from the time before the pandemic we want back and which we don't?", asked author Teresa Bücker in SZ Magazin last autumn. 

A different understanding of work-life balance

Will the experience from the pandemic be enough to anchor changes and innovation in us? So firmly that we want to and will keep them? For all its negative effects, the pandemic can be credited with pushing many things ahead in a kind of fast-forward mode. We are experiencing a lot of restriction, but some things have also proven themselves. Besides home office and virtual collaboration, we have gained a different understanding of work-life balance. 

We have developed ideas and ideals – especially in the early phase of the pandemic. These include better pay for system-relevant professions, more sustainable consumption or doing without air travel and car journeys. "But the initial mood of optimism has already died down. Do you remember these discussions? They are hardly ever held anymore," says the SZ columnist Bücker.

Digitalization of work and education remains

Nevertheless: Even if we are not that willing to change, there is a good chance that we will draw on some of these discoveries and experiences in the time that follows the pandemic. This applies to the digitalization and technologization of work, shopping, education and leisure activities. 

And we are already observing that the experiences made during the recent months have already changed the way we live our lives - having more time to spend with our families for example. The crisis has also changed our awareness according to futurologist Horst Opaschowski. He predicts us being more mindful and focusing on what matters - being healthy, safe and secure.


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