Archived Webinar

Successfully Navigating the 'New Normal' — Moving Forward in this Ever-Changing World


Presented by Susan Davidson Talmadge, president and owner of HR Catalyst Consulting LLC.

This time it’s different. Newspapers have been through disasters before, from earthquakes to fires to hurricanes, but they always knew the disaster would be over at some time. With the pandemic and civil unrest, it’s uncertain when or what the end will be.  

Bathroom pass. Biggest questions Susan Davidson Talmadge gets about returning to work concerns bathrooms: Will they be disinfected, do you have to bring your own towels, etc.?

Lessons learned from disasters:

  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Have accurate, updated contact information, for texting. You may have a sick person coming into the building and you have to shut down for at least 24 — you need a way to reach people.
  • Even in natural disasters, you needed a plan to get the right cleanup contractors. The same things apply to the pandemic.
  • Storage of extra supplies. This time around, cleaning and mask suppliers will be necessary. You’re going to need more masks, trash bags, etc. than ever before.
  • Have remote access systems that work.

Safeguarding your building. Don’t be afraid to bring in experts to see what needs to be changed or modified. You probably are not an expert on ventilation, air flow, etc. and its effect on spreading the coronavirus. Important: Let the staff know as much as you can about this expert help.

Risky bottom line. The unfortunate reality with a virus — about which much remains unknown — is this: You cannot eliminate all risk.

Lessons learned from moving a newspaper. There are lessons applicable to coming back to work. When Susan Davidson Talmadge’s newspaper was moving from downtown to a new location, it assembled a multi-department team; phased the move in and out; had a welcoming session about all the new regulations and expected behaviors; and a comprehensive communications plan. Important: Put one person in charge.

COVID and culture. How your newspaper acts as people come back to the building is going to have a far-reaching impact on how your employees look at you. HR and top managers have to step up during this period. You set the culture!

Not all about COVID-19. It’s clear from the protests following George Floyd’s death that diversity and inclusion issues are also very important to your returning employees. Use this period to set goals on these issues. Check out the SHRM guidelines on diversity and inclusion for guidance.

Checkup. Find out how your employees are doing. Ask simple questions in a short survey: Are you ready to come back by X date? Would you volunteer to be among the first to come back? Ask if they have ideas on hygiene or workplace safety.

Thank you. As part of your communications from key managers, be sure to express the gratitude for what they’ve done over the past three months.

Uh-oh, OSHA. The federal safety agency has declared that the pandemic applies under its general regulation to have a workplace free of dangers to employees. They have offered guidelines here:

Speaking of resources. Susan Davidson’s presentation includes a slide at the end with a huge list of resources from many sources about coming back or continuing to work remotely.

Communicate the New Normal. Be prepared for questions like, are there going to be bonuses or how long will salary cuts last? What will safety rules be?

Want to follow up with Susan Davidson Talmadge with social distancing? Contact her at


COVID-19, coronavirus, Susan Davidson Talmadge