Government leaders, businesses and the rest of us have found ourselves in a transition period due to the escalation of COVID-19. Today, we are going to explore the implications in terms of how business leaders, individual employees and brands can adjust to this new time. As the general public is encouraged or mandated to stay home over the next few weeks or months, we’ve got specific information and advice about how to make the necessary adjustments.
A large portion of the American workforce is staying home as a part of their civic duty to protect the elderly and people at risk. Some companies are more adept and in a better position to switch to remote work than others. The professional challenges of this transition are especially poignant for senior-level executives. However, there are few aspects that remain consistent across the board, and we’ll explore those topics now.
Leaders must select the best platform for communication and transfer functionality through other services as well, if necessary. There must be company-wide commitment, which means leaders must clearly communicate to their employees how things will change moving forward. An adaptive mentality is essential.
The current situation will be a challenge for company culture. It is important that the best parts of your culture—such as transparency, accountability and trust—translate to the online format. Now more than ever is a time when people need to get along and feel supported. This leads to another issue, which is the negative emotional impact of self-isolation. It is incumbent upon everyone, including businesses, to create an environment that creates a feeling of community and connection.
Part of sustaining a healthy culture, community feeling and an effective work setting is active listening. Whether the room be online or in person, there are often power dynamics that hinder collaboration and inclusion. Ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard is a critical prerequisite for a properly functioning workplace.
While leaders should facilitate adaptation to the current situation, employees must focus on eliminating distractions so they can pay attention in real time. For many, it is challenging to direct full attention to online meetings, as in-person meetings are more engaging without the competing distractions that crop up at home. We’re going to discuss some ways you can overcome the challenges of remote work, to make the most of it and stay productive.
Some healthy steps you can take when you work from home are:
Even though your normal day looks a lot different, it is important to keep a routine. Maybe instead of an 8am workout class, you run in the neighborhood in the morning. Maybe during your lunch break, you Zoom with a coworker. You could even create a Slack channel for ideas on how to adjust to this new work lifestyle.
Your company may not be in the retail industry, but given its centrality to the economy, we’re going to take a look at how this market is being impacted by the coronavirus. COVID-19 Retail Pulse is a great resource for tracking revenue, conversion rates, Facebook spend, and Google spend. The categories include fashion, pure-play ecommerce, omnichannel, subscription and at-home convenience and luxury. As of March 22nd, all of these retail niches saw waning negative revenues except for subscription and at-home convenience, with an increase of 210%. Streaming services, a large part of this market, have gained a clear advantage now that people can only enjoy entertainment at home.
Pure-play ecommerce (which includes businesses who are all clicks and no bricks) was the most harshly impacted, with revenue down -59%. Since Amazon announced it was only selling essential goods, businesses that rely on the retail giant as a distributor are now faced with a need to either diversify, or switch to a fulfillment-by-merchant model. Luxury companies are also hard hit, as some of the larger brands scramble to move sales and events online.
In general, there has also been a general decrease in ad spend across Facebook and Google, with the exception of subscription and convenience brands which saw spend skyrocket higher. These brands saw a 316% increase of Google Ads spend between March 10th and March 22nd.
Now that we’ve seen how the retail industry is being impacted, we want to explore how brands can step up to the plate and adapt to new realities.
Clearly, strategy as it relates to operations, production and sales have shifted dramatically in the last few weeks. Consumer behavior has done a 180 amidst stay-at-home orders, cancelled events and an increasingly bearish stock market. It is especially difficult to invest in or sustain current advertising initiatives at a time when people are not shopping for non-essential goods.
So where should brands interact with their target audience? On platforms that can host live streaming and webinars. These formats provide a great opportunity to answer questions and provide information to customers and internal stakeholders.
While the where is an essential component, how the communication takes place is even more critical. Brands must practice a sensitive tone when it comes to communication about and allusions to the current global situation. Most companies have sent emails to customers explaining how they are taking exhaustive steps to ensure revamped cleanliness standards and the health and safety of employees and customers. It’s this sort of transparent communication and customer relationship management that will earn companies the trust of their target audience.
While the where is an essential component, how the communication [between brands and their customers] takes place is even more critical.
People are experiencing fear of the unknown, new adjustments and jitters about the future. Despite the challenges this new time has presented, it has given brands an opportunity to join in the fight against this pandemic, whether it be through donations of medical supplies or other prevention measures.
Cause marketing must come from a sincere place of concern for human welfare, rather than a publicity stunt. Right now, community building is more important than driving new sales and brand awareness. If you take this approach, the people you are trying to reach will respect your concern and generosity, and remember your contribution to the general public during this trying time.