What is the new reality?
What is the new reality?
The ‘new normal’ has been explained away – suggesting that the changes that have occurred and reframed our working lives in particular are now normal. The term ‘new reality’ is probably more fitting as we stretch and yawn our way out of the COVID-19 scenario and take stock of the new environment we have created and are now living within.
In what appears to be quite a rapid development (COVID-19 is regarded as an accelerant by many) technology is all around us and we have become heavily reliant on it. My own academic and private life is now essentially digitalised. My travel documents are in my Apps; my diary is electronic; my health care is electronic; my vaccination evidence is in my digital wallet; and all my banking is done on line – essentially I have become paperless – probably a good thing – and actually quite easy to manage.
On line teaching and learning
My institution – offering business degrees at bachelor and masters level – offers only online teaching and learning at present. This was thrust upon us early in the piece but we adapted very quickly – made the necessary investment in the technology – put the time and effort into training staff – and currently support the effort. In turn, the student response has been very positive in terms of reviews, surveys and feedback. In recent surveys (T3, 2022) students have indicated that 93 per cent would like to remain on line – on the Melbourne Campus with postgraduate students the percentage is 100.
The notion of Working from Home (WFH) and in fact Working from Anywhere (WFA) have now been embraced and form part of the dialogue when talking with staff and employees. I have been surprised (in some respects) with the rapid take up of the concepts. There is considerable traction within my environment – and for that matter across multiple sectors. I personally have explored the notion of WFA from other continents – and with the challenge of time differences – have found the concept to be most effective and productive.
The new reality is about providing options. In the higher education sector a hybrid approach to teaching and learning is the most logical, safe and practical approach. This is where classes are delivered both in person and online – and students choose the option they prefer. In the work place having the option of F2F or WFA is also logical and practical. A combination (blended) is probably the most effective approach making it possible to interact and be productive at the same time.
Essentially the key ingredient of the new reality is embracing the notion and application of change. One needs to be prepared to do things differently – and often more effectively given the chance.
In all, we need to understand our new reality and work towards maximising the benefits of an environment that we have created and now live in. The ‘new reality’ is the proposed title and theme for a new book in early 2023.
Emeritus Professor Greg Whateley is the Deputy Vice Chancellor at the Universal Business School Sydney/Melbourne and Vice President (Academic) at Group Colleges Australia