Amidst so much uncertainty and what feels like a stream of negative news, it is a struggle for anyone to stay positive at the current time. On a personal level, those of us lucky enough to be working at home during COVID-19, may take comfort from the fact we avoid lengthy commutes and are spending more time with family and friends in our household. From society’s point of view, there is an increased sense of kindness and community from many quarters as well as a positive impact on the environment from reduced air pollution, at least in the short-term.
However, with at-scale physical distancing and the massive economic knock-on effects of Covid-19, what possible benefits might businesses draw from this harrowing experience? We look at how organisations are adapting in this unprecedented period, and consider ways in which they may emerge stronger and more agile.
Accelerating digital transformation
With so many businesses having had to move operations into new environments very quickly, needing to access files, applications and resources remotely and individuals communicating with one another via internet apps, video conferencing and smart telecoms, COVID-19 has necessitated a rapid adoption of technology.
As well as contributing to a better sense of connectivity, with businesses having no other option than to ensure a good grasp on all of their channels, this interim way of working will also see many discovering new tools to increase productivity and reach, which can be taken forward when the new normal resumes.
Moreover, moving to digital processes and looking for increased efficiencies in how we work, communicate and deliver goods and services may take us a step towards greater sustainability which might not otherwise have been the case. With luck, at the end of this period, individuals, whether in a business or consumer sense, may find new definitions for what constitutes a ‘necessity’ and consume in a more mindful way.
Finding synergy from afar
Similarly, efforts to maintain communication and teamwork have seen a huge increase in the adoption of cloud-based collaboration services such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Isolation from colleagues is forcing individuals to make more effort to stay connected and be more conscious of keeping others updated and sharing information, which hopefully will help us all apply better practices in the longer term.
During times of adversity, organisations are also forced to become more agile to face challenges and respond to ever-changing needs, which in turn drives greater teamwork and breaks down internal silos. Many businesses have rapidly evolved their business model in order to address changes to market conditions and customer needs and this resilience and creativity will provide a solid platform from which to grow in better times. The newly enforced flexibility around home working and working patterns may also help drive a work-life balance that better supports the physical and mental health of employees, whilst at the same time giving employers the ability to attract and retain the best staff.
Demonstrate authentic purpose
At a time when an unparalleled event has had a truly global impact, there have been many awe-inspiring, selfless responses both from individuals, community groups and independent businesses, as well as global brands.
However, there has also been a rise in well-meaning, yet slightly superficial communications, as well as some blatantly opportunistic approaches from businesses via email and social media. By contrast, value and purpose-led organisations are beginning to shine at a time when audiences need reassurance and support, rather than a sales pitch. The retailers, manufacturers, hospitality brands and others who are currently diverting their operations towards supporting communities are the brands that will be remembered in better times.
Businesses in sectors hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak that prioritise the health and safety of their staff above profit will win lasting loyalty from those employees. Whether providing community essentials and delivery services or switching to manufacture health and safety products, the businesses that lead with compassionate values and demonstrate generosity and authenticity, will be the brands that are rewarded in the longer term.
The power of human contact
Our recent article highlighted the significance of human connections and asked whether good communication will be better appreciated after lockdown.
Ironically, it is likely that this period of social distancing will change our attitude to how we work and interact with others, giving us a greater appreciation of the value of ‘face to face’ and ‘human to human’ interactions. What is more, having been pushed out of our comfort zone we are more likely to be receptive to new technologies and confident in their use, potentially embracing tools such as video conferencing that enhance remote communications and personal interactions. Who knows, when we emerge into the new normal, rather than emailing colleagues who sit a few feet away or communicating with our family via messaging apps, we may even speak to each other!
If you are looking to maintain meaningful connections with your current and prospective clients and communicate your organisation’s purpose and brand values in an authentic way as we weather the storm of the ongoing pandemic, get in touch if you think we can help.