The Year 2020. It started like any other. There was excitement in the air, families flew across oceans to be close to their near and dear ones, parties were planned, elaborate dinner and brunch menus prepared, resolutions were made! Like I said, it was a year like any other.
Little did we know how it would unfold, or what the year would bring with it. Over the course of the next few weeks, a life threatening disease would take the form of a pandemic, shutting us all behind closed doors.
For the first time ever, we all found ourselves in uncharted territory. We faced a global lockdown. We had no experience, no vaccine, no cure, and no standard operating procedures to navigate this new world we were all thrown into. But to survive, we must navigate and swim to the other side.
The world is struggling to survive and so are businesses, both large and small. According to Harvard Business Review (HBR), along with the severe health and humanitarian crisis caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, executives around the world face enormous business challenges: the collapse of customer demand, significant regulatory regulations, supply chain interruptions, unemployment, economic recession, and increased uncertainty. And like the health and humanitarian side of crisis, the business side needs ways to recover. Ad hoc responses won’t work; organisations must lay the groundwork for their recoveries now.
In resilience lies adaptability. Organisations that are agile and nimble will find it easier to adapt to the new normal of the post-pandemic world. In the coming months and years, businesses will find themselves more dependant on their digital media strategy. The change is here to stay, more now than ever!
The enormous challenges businesses face today are unprecedented. The B2B companies used to rely heavily on a barrage of trade shows and exhibitions to network and build customer relations. The B2C companies depended on in-person client acquisition processes and building long-term customer relations. The pandemic has led to an unparalleled total disappearance of all channels related to live events, conferences, meetings and anything face to face.
According to Forbes, the unprecedented, almost-total disappearance of all channels related to live events and conferences, and the increasing barriers on face-to-face business, pose an enormous challenge. Key to resilience is the development of ongoing contingencies to mitigate against this loss.
As it seems to be, the future of work lies in using the screen as a medium. Until we have a confirmed and tested cure for the pandemic, it looks like we will continue to be glued to our laptops and phones in a colossal effort of business continuity and survival.
While the world struggles to survive, can we think of adapting to work in the new normal. As Albert Einstein said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” Globally we are all confined to our homes. Gallup surveys in 145 countries and territories in 2019 and early 2020 show more of the world is online than ever. According to the Economic Times, Market Research Firm Nielsen said social media volume saw a whopping 50X surge between January and March in India alone in the wake of Covid – 19 pandemic. A senior official of the firm noted that the social media buzz picked up from a 0.4 million in January and 1.6 million in February to a to a staggering 20.3 million till March 24.
Given the massive increase of users in the online space means more opportunities for large and small businesses to connect with their clients and customers digitally. If your organisation or small business previously held back on your digital strategy, now is the time to revamp it and increase your presence for the audience that matters the most for your business.
Here are five tips to become digitally available and present in times of the current crisis:
- Be Socially Present: To be seen at the right place, you need to be present. And that’s equally true in the digital space. Your social presence is important at this crucial time. Create content, revamp that landing page, find imaginative ways to communicate your messages and reach out to your customers and clients. Think out of the box. If you are a B2B company and historically worked through trade shows and live events, maybe it’s time to create a digital community of your clients and organise an online show. You could host live talks with renowned speakers from the community and the trade. If you are a small business owner, ensure your products are available online and that you stay connected with your loyal customer base.
- Be Empathetic: Every individual and every business is in survival mode. The reality of the situation is that all countries are looking for the ‘next normal’. The news channels are filled with rising death tolls and the increasing spread of the disease. People are likely to buy essential and household goods more now and seize to buy the non-essentials. But that shouldn’t be a reason to decrease your engagement with your clients. Continue to build relationships online, and continue to empathise with the tough times that face you and your client alike. Your customer and your client will be happy to stay connected with you and appreciate your concerns.
- Share: According to Mckinsey, digital and low-touch activities are growing, attracting both new and increased users during the pandemic. Consumers expect some of these activities to enter their ‘next normal’. During the pandemic, consumers have taken up new ways to learn, work, entertain themselves, procure essentials and non-essentials, connect with others and increase wellness while at home. In these vulnerable times, it helps to humanise your client. While you navigate through these uncertain times, share some of your ‘new normal’ success and failures with your clients. You could be trying a new health app to stay fit during lockdown, or reading something that you could probably share with your client, or tried a recipe that you never tried before; share your experiences with the client as well. These are trying times for everyone, and the human-touch is appreciated (all while maintaining social distancing; pun intended!).
- Engage with your Employees: While we seem to worry about our client engagement, it’s often easy to forget the ones who make this all possible: our internal teams. Let’s not forget that their worries and struggles are as real as the clients. They are also struggling in the new normal with work, kids, spouses and all the household work that needs attention. Connect with them on video calls to get some face-to-face time with them. Keep some of these calls entirely ‘no-work calls’. Do something fun online, play a game, maybe ask kids to photo-bomb these fun calls. Whatever helps you engage better with your team. Let them know that you as a leader are genuinely worried and care for your people.
- Stay Calm. It Shows: Rudyard Kipling said: “If you can keep your head when all are about you are losing theirs…!”. According to Harvard Business Publishing, Leaders who act panicky can trigger panic in their team. To project calm, think of yourself as a swan—gliding on the water, while your feet paddle fast below the surface, unseen by your team.
As they say, this too shall pass! But resilience lies in adaptability. So look for ways to adapt and make your mark in the digital space.
Until next time!
About the Author: Aroti Akash Tugnait is a Leadership Development Practitioner and a Digital Marketeer with over 2 decades of experience with Harvard Business Publishing, Accenture Consulting, and GE. Find her LinkedIn profile as listed: