It’s quite impossible for you not to have stumbled upon the buzz-phrase, new normal recently. Just like you, I have read it, heard it mentioned and seen it so many times. Yet I personally have not stopped to reflect on it until yesterday.
It dawned on me that I was already living this new normal for the past few weeks. I made adjustments to my work and lifestyle to make it the best it can be. At the beginning of this stay-at-home journey, I struggled with the idea of not being able to keep to my usual daily routine: going to the office, breakfast with my fellow editor friend Anida, and meeting up with friends or family. But as days passed, I subconsciously created a new daily routine that I was comfortable with, which somehow allowed me to stay productive. Is this what everyone is calling the new normal?
What surprised me was how I’d stepped into a new way of living quite seamlessly. But has it been the same for others? What about those who run businesses, lead major companies, or work to create awareness? How has this change affected them?
What Is The New Normal for Leaders?
Curious, I reach out and ask a few leaders from different industries what new normal means to them. As we embark on this new way of life, I hope to share their thoughts, which may enlighten and inspire your new normal.
Nik Suzila Hassan, co-founder of Kloth Malaysia Sdn Bhd
What is your new normal?
I’m lucky that a grocery store is a stone’s throw away from home. Every other day at about 6pm, I walk to the store to buy fresh food. My mobile phone is absolutely not buzzing as much as it used to be, prior to MCO. There are more than 300 Kloth Cares fabric bins adopted by various fabric recycling partners. Our partners have been contacting me and the team when the bins are full. Some of the fabric bins get filled up to the full very frequently, two rounds of collection need to be done per week. During MCO, the authorities only allow Kloth Cares to make collections at SHELL retail stations: 46 of them. That my phone is quieter is my new normal. Replying to emails and producing marketing plans for clients from home is normal to me.
Every day, I deal with different types of stakeholders for Kloth Cares, including the government and its agencies who usually prefer face to face meetings. However, since MCO, I am a first-hand witness that Malaysian civil servants are adapting well to the new normal and we convene meetings and communicate effectively via various digital platforms. I don’t need to travel to Putrajaya or Cyberjaya anymore but work gets done.
What new habit have you started that you think you’d keep doing after MCO?
Throughout my life until the fourth week of MCO, when I said “I’m cooking”, it meant heating up processed food from the freezer or making instant noodles. My family advised me to develop a new skill – and that’s cooking – since we all need to adapt to a new normal. They said they’d help to become my virtual cooking instructors. I love Southeast Asian traditional dishes and prefer to prepare them ‘as organic as possible’ and use a pestle and mortar to grind too. I am grateful that my family (and close friends) have helped to guide me. It has been a delightful experience in the kitchen and learning how to cook traditional dishes is my new normal, habit and lifestyle.
What’s one life lesson that you always share with your team?
You need to be real, adaptable, agile and progressive in any situation. Focus on the things you can control and learn something new every day.
How do you see this new normal affecting your industry?
The Kloth Cares Fabric Recycling Movement is the brainchild of Sarahah Kedah and myself, and we pledged to keep at least 2,000,000 kg of unwanted fabric away from landfills. Since August 2018 until MCO was imposed, our total collection has exceeded 550,000 kg. There are more than 300 units of Kloth Cares bins in Klang Valley, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan, which we installed over 19 months. Kloth Cares achieved such result in a short span of time because we were able to engage (face to face) with fabric recycling partners and the community to tell them why they should care about keeping fabric out of landfills. With social distancing being the new normal, we are not able to conduct face-to-face engagements anymore (or limited) and that will be more challenging for Kloth Cares in educating people to change their mindset.
Overall, the clothing and fashion industry has plummeted in the blink of an eye, so we anticipate a downfall in garment waste. However, we foresee an uptrend in household textile waste as people are spending more time at home. Waste management is an essential service industry. We use fabric and textiles for different purposes every day.