It is a no brainer to know that the world on the other side of the COVID 19 pandemic, would be very different from the current one where individuals and businesses will need to adapt to new ways of working.
The entire vocabulary has shifted focus to only two things, “Essential “ and “Non Essential”.
While trying to cope up with the changing reality, the lingering question for every business is “How to stay relevant in the New Normal”?
Here are some possibilities in the post pandemic scenario
- Lets face it. The pandemic has impacted not just you but everyone around. You and your competition, both are being impacted reasonably hard if not equal
- Marketing spends might be the biggest casualty of the scenario with sharp cuts in budgets
- Financial spends will be held more closer to the chest
- The customers will come back with elevated/higher expectations and would demand a higher return for every dollar spent
- Brand loyalty will be shaky because “Need” has overtaken the “Desire” and they will need very compelling reasons to remain loyal to brands
- Brands and Businesses in turn will rush to package new ideas/ products/ offerings/ services to reach out to their customers
- Knee jerk reactions will be taken to win the race of being innovative and agile. Concepts like work from home is one such concept which however will need to stand the test of time
- With team proximity foregone, it might pose challenges for managerial and leadership roles to perform efficiently
- Surge in demand for hardware and software for facilitating remote working
- Businesses which lean heavily on customer site visits to sell their offerings will have a challenge both in terms of logistics and expense
- Regaining the trust of customers will be most essential
Re-establish Brand Loyalty
The loyalty of the customer does not confine to the quality of products/services alone. There is a constant eye to judge the brand behavior especially in testing times like these this becomes a more potent factor for the customer. Historically, brands and businesses have made their way to customer loyalty not merely by their business offerings but “how were/are the offerings delivered to the customer”. With the market overcrowded with similar offerings, businesses will need to put strategically designed communications to their customers not just about the product but by putting forth the organization integral values, service distinguishers and emotional connect. During the difficult times, the customers would like to see how the brands rise up and put their best foot forward. Carefully designed communication highlighting the overall character and values of the brand will contribute immensely towards re-establishing the brand loyalty. Point in case would be the recent advt on Surf Excel promoting the fact “Neki nahi rukegi”. Messaging is subtle and product comes very aptly towards the end.
In the post pandemic scenario, this approach will hold relevance and the exercise of re-establishing the brand along with innovative reach out strategies will help businesses emerge stronger.
Crisis or Opportunity?
Amidst the worry some scenarios of plunging economy and grim business scenarios, interesting opportunities have emerged and smart strategies are at play. Doordarshan, a traditional channel was amongst the first to jump on the opportunity and started reruns of the mythological shows two times a day. The result was historic and world record viewership and in-turn multifold increase in advertising revenue in the lockdown period. Brands like Amul have been able to reconnect an entire generation by running advertisements of the 90’s. The forced mindset shift to adopt going online for local merchants is a welcome change and is getting bumper sales revenues. The digital adoption by businesses has created a huge market potential of cybersecurity offerings. Remote working is another old concept which is finding acceptance by businesses. As a result, cyber security products portfolio business will obviously have a surge in demand. A forced lockdown is feeding into shifts in strategy and approach for businesses. As a result new opportunities for business have emerged and these businesses and brands are all jumping on the opportunities to re-establish themselves much stronger than before even during the pandemic.
Work from Home, Remote Working- Security and Productivity?
Work from Home is not a new concept but the acceptability has gone higher, thanks to the current scenario. The pandemic forced the concept into implementation and looking at the results, most businesses are seriously giving it a thought to continue the concept even post the pandemic.
The WFH concept has a lot of positives like providing the employees the much needed flexibility to work at the comfort of their homes, eliminated on un-necessary meetings and long tea, coffee and sutta breaks. Additionally the lockdown restricted the movement of employees outside their homes. The result was improved focus and hence productivity performance is showing an upsurge and businesses are smiling. Sometimes bold ideas need to be executed to be able to accept or dismiss. The current pandemic just endorsed the same principle and businesses are happy. Major IT companies have either adopted or announced to continue WFH concept even post the pandemic. This is a huge change.
However, businesses will need careful implementation of measures to ensure the downsides of remote working takeover the advantages. Cyber / data security is a major concern especially when the employees are working remotely. Passwords can be hacked hence mechanisms like smart biometric keys can be adopted to ensure both authenticity and data security. End to end encryption products will have much higher demands than before. Secure messaging apps with packet encryptions, vapor messaging could see many takers especially the banking and research laboratories.
However all these reactions to the pandemic will need to stand the test of time and most might subside when subjected to the real working scenario challenges. For instance once the lockdown eases, it remains to be seen whether WFH retains the same productivity numbers. The challenges associated with facilitating WFH or implementing new security mechanisms are still unknown and businesses will need to respond to those challenges as they occur.
New phase of Leadership
A business is judged by the product /offering it delivers to its customers. A product is an outcome of serious planning and execution of tasks within a workplace.
Traditionally, majority of managers and team leaders are accustomed to planning and execution with the team available in proximity. However with the loss of proximity with team members, managers and team leaders will need to devise new mechanisms to plan, allocate and execute the day to day tasks. In the pre pandemic scenario, the advantage to calling a team briefing at a short notice and changing/modifying the course of tasks any time was a routine.
In the post pandemic world all such methods will be instantly outdated. While the nature of the work for many will not change but the process of planning and allocation will mandate a major change . The traditional work planning and allocation toolkits may need very careful identification of work packets to be allocated to the teams.
The new reality will require extremely agile and flexible mindsets which bring out the real managerial/leadership qualities efficiently and those who would find it difficult to adjust to the new reality may be completely dusted.
No longer would a managerial role involve checking emails in the morning and evening only but the new reality will see growth of new leaders who will get into the trenches of the tasks and the work breakdown structure, communicate clearly and lead from the front. Mechanisms to monitor the tasks remotely and ensure timely delivery will need careful selection of smart technology toolkits.
Businesses would need to be ready with mentoring/training programs to alert their leadership to prepare and be ready for this major transition post pandemic. Those would be able to put these mechanisms in place quickly and will not only sustain the post pandemic world but will also emerge as market leaders.
Smart Marketing approach- Toolkits for business promotion
Certain industries which lean on customer visits to their premises as an important criteria to pitch their businesses will need to think out of the box so that the business continues to grow in the post lockdown. One of the approaches for businesses could be integration of technology as a facilitator. Smart marketing toolkits will need to be created which will assist the marketing and sales team to pitch their offerings to the customers. If the customer cannot come to your premises, can the premises be taken to the customer. One of the leading auto component manufacturers adopted Virtual Reality as a tool to develop smart marketing toolkits using which they can showcase their expertise and facilities to the customer without having the customer visit their premises. This smart marketing toolkit not just saves the logistics cost but also puts the company ahead of its competition as an innovative thinker.
The real estate industry could be another beneficiary who may consider such smart marketing toolkits to elevate their sales numbers especially during the current scenario.
An IT Major recently invested in such smart tech innovations as a part of reach out strategy to their clientele and already reaping the benefits of engaging their customers.
Traditional operating mechanisms will be challenged for necessity and relevance, especially in the scenario when new contracts being signed , meetings being conducted online, smart collaboration technology leveraged by businesses and all this without having the need to travel.
Don’t sell a product, sell an experience
Customer Experience Spaces may gain more prominence in the post pandemic scenario because as companies rush to reach their customers , connecting them emotionally with the brand will gain prominence over selling the actual products / services.
Brands and businesses may consider investing into such futuristic spaces which will allow the customer to walk through the product / service offerings. Every zone within the space can be designed to trigger discussion with the client. With the right selection of immersive technologies, this functionality is possible without having the customer actually visit the premises.
In the post pandemic scenario, taking services to the customer will be imperative for every business and this would create acceptance and integration of Immersive Digital interventions which facilitate the requirements.
About the author:
AVP – Business Development
An Engineer by education and professionally working in multidisciplinary domains ranging from Telecommunications, to Information Technology to Designing of futuristic experiential zones, Vickramh is a technology adaptation facilitator for corporates and Government institutes.
His role involves helping customers design the best storytelling experiences with the optimum use of latest technologies. His role in working in the experiential domain also involves extensively working with fully integrated advertising services from Brand Positioning, Identity Design, Digital Marketing and Website development services.
Yes, the new world. Because the things that have been taking place around us have changed the way people think, behave and interact. What’s more; the lockdown has redefined physical interaction for every sector, product and service and has accelerated the need for brands to have a robust digital presence.
So, in a world full of jargons and philosophies, here are 10 simple yet impactful building blocks that will get your brand digitally ready for the post-lockdown world and consumers.
- Spell out your COVID-19 stand
The ones who trust your brand, seek transparency about what’s your take on the current scenario and what are you doing to address the situation. Use emailers and newsletters to reach out.
- Update your information touch points
With fake news all around, people seek authentic information from the brand, and nothing better than an updated brand website to do it. Update your website banners, and if need be relook your corporate website.
- Give people a clearer picture
It’s your responsibility to give your customers clarity about your revised working hours, are you open for business, and other essentials. It sounds basic, but updating your Google Search Listing is very useful.
- Fine tune your digital assets
With communication trends evolving in these times, it’s a good time to get an audit done of your existing digital channels. Convert your offline collaterals into e-versions to offer an enriched experience. This includes brochures, catalogues, BD tools etc.
- Make your website e-commerce active
With social distancing taking over in the near future, it’s the right time to get your website e-commerce ready. You won’t want to miss out on future customers just because, they can’t connect with you from their homes.
- Find a way to reach their doorstep
Depending on your type of product or service it is imperative to initiate online delivery for the future. For the products/services cannot be home delivered, find a way to reach out to them for assistance, if not product delivery.
- Take the tech route
The prevalent scenario and the impending future make this the right moment to initiate automation of workflows that don’t need physical intervention. This can be done using tools like AR / VR, CRM software, AIn enabled chatbots and other customer interaction tools.
- Show up and do your part
If you already have a product/service that can be of help, go a step further. Make online books free to read, make medicines delivery faster. But, if your service isn’t a direct benefit provider, get associated with someone. Make a donation, sponsor relevant infrastructure.
- Do more than what you can
Make sure that your social media followers get a sense of value addition from your channels. A real estate developer offering online site visits gives people more than just engaging content.
- Get ready for the next phase
How are you going to communicate post the lockdown? Do you want to drive sales with some offer? Find answer to these questions while revisiting your product/service portfolio to meet people’s new needs.Challenges are inevitable. But how we best utilise the available resources define how the business will shape up in the future. Digital readiness of your brand is a resource that seeks your attention now. Let’s gear up!
I am not really new to the WFH concept, it is something that I have been managing quite successfully for the past few years now. Having said that, it is a completely different ball game both mentally and physically to be totally confined to doing only WFH, and not having the liberty to meet, talk and discuss with people on professional matters. As a Human Resource professional, being physically present amongst people and teams is what it is all about, and I wondered how this was going to work out.
The first week for me was all about anger and frustration, and more so, the added burden of the household chores. To top it all, cooking was something I did when I wanted to, not something I had to do! To top it all, imagine having a teenager son 24/7 at home and him wanting to eat every 2 hours, my agony knew no bounds! Also, as a consultant, having more than one client to deal with during these times is a circus of its own! I was a wreck trying to figure out how I am going to manage juggling all of that.
The second week was all about a binge watch marathon of Netflix, Amazon and whatever else I could find just to mask the feeling of time not moving. Movies, documentaries, soaps – you name it, and I saw it! So much so that I exhausted my data pack, and well, the service provider, due to the lockdown restrictions and reduced manpower, could not activate anything else for 2 weeks! With that, I turned to the only solution available – Cooking! And cooking with joy and passion of creating something that will be loved by me and my family. To my surprise, it worked. It was almost therapeutic and all was well at home and within me as well.
We are more than three weeks into the lockdown now, and lo and behold, I am quite enjoying the confinement and juggling everything. The mental agony is gone, the routine has become more streamlined, deliverables are being completed faster and to top it all, I seriously think I qualify for the next MasterChef Auditions. All it took was accepting that there is nothing I can do to change anything, except my own way of handling this situation, and of course, the occasional (ok, often) venting out my anger and frustration to those at home. But it worked, and all’s well that ends well, or so I think will end in a few more weeks!
In the end, what really matters now is that we stay calm, stay home, and let the government and the official machinery do whatever it takes to get the country, the people and the economy back on track! But yes, this forced break has definitely made me more patient, more accepting and definitely more prepared to face whatever life has to offer.
– Written by Sandhya Bhat, Strategic Human Resources Consultant
I never thought that I will go through the WFH experience ever in my professional career.
To me, WFH always meant something that the IT guys do; or some other people who work on boring power point presentations with never-ending slides do. However, this current lockdown situation (of forced home quarantine because of COVID-19) makes you learn the new-age work fundas, and it is actually quite easy to adapt.
The online team meetings, briefings on video calls and discussions are a good way to learn new skills and adapt to the new work culture for every working professional.
Work Mode: Lots of WFH
Being a Creative Professional and a part-time Painter, I get quality time to explore my passion for art, be it in the advertising industry or in the world of paintings.
I have learnt to effectively balance my work, including office work, home work (not much for me), gardening and painting. I’m focusing on making the most of it, and besides the everyday office work, while also attending online painting sessions and participating in some contests, along with learning the nuances of gardening, home interior ideas and exploring collage art again.
Overall, this Quarantine time is passing well but I am also missing the office vibes, interacting with friends, being socially active and my ritualistic Sunday morning outdoor painting sessions.
Let’s hope we all get back soon in the business with refreshing ideas.
Hobby Mode: Painting and more
Relaxation Mode: Gardening times
The past few months across the world and the last few weeks in India, have witnessed unprecedented scenes. In India, as 1.3 billion people try and adhere to the lockdown, new challenges are coming to the fore. At the same time, brands have reacted to these emerging scenarios, in different ways.
Edelman, a leading global communications and marketing firm, has published a holistic report of what people expect from brands in these times. At Setu, this report by Edelman has given us great insights; some of which we believe will shape the now and the future of brand behaviour and people’s response.
Show up and do your part
While brands are an integral part of our day to day life, a pandemic of these proportions, changes the priorities, drastically. Suddenly, everyday relevant brands can become less important or irrelevant. People expect brands to step forward and contribute in these times, through relevant products, services and even donations.
Almost 83% people expect brands to come ahead and show that they care.
Don’t act alone
Usually, a brand is a single point of contact for specific needs. In fact, the bond of loyalty is treasured by both brands and people. But in these times, people expect the brands to collaborate. Whether it’s getting associated with the government or other organisations, togetherness & unity give better results and more hope to people. They enhance the brand’s humane value too.
Solve, don’t sell
Unusual times call for unusual solutions. Faced with never-before challenges, people want brands to focus on solving their problems, instead of selling their products. The brands thus have to be agile in repackaging their products as solutions, or look at extending their services to solve new & current problems.
Communicate with emotion & compassion
Brands have always been central to making people feel something through their communication; through messages that stick. People now expect brands to empathise with them, inform them, help them keep calm, and even entertain them.
Brand’s communication should not sound escapist. Humour should be used judiciously too.
At Setu, we’ve been working with brands during this lockdown to ensure these aspects are a part of activities and communication done by brands.
Stay tuned for a 4-blog series, where we will share some interesting work done by them, and what role we played in it.
We are all living in era of uncertainty, confusion and a lot of emotional distress thinking and planning for the post lockdown era. With all the constant bombarding on media, news channels and just about everyone having an opinion, people coming into work post the lockdown phase will be confused, scared and unsure of how to go about their work routines. It is here, that organizations and leaders will have to play a crucial role in easing employee anxieties, creating a culture that is open and adaptable and where people can express their fears openly and seek solutions.
The new work culture will have employees demanding more flexible work hours, refusing to travel both domestic and international, the compensation for the work from home category being skewed compared to a dedicated office worker…these and a lot more are going to have to be worked out by organizations post the lockdown phase. The business leaders and the HR fraternity have to be prepared for a changed or modified workplace scenario.
While there are no set standards or methods here are a few such pointers and questions that the leaders of the organization can be prepared with:
1. Is my organization and my employees safe and I taking enough care to keep the office
It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that sanitizers are kept at various locations in the office, procuring thermal scanning sensors if necessary and of course making wearing of masks compulsory. Monitoring all these aspects through an HR policy and enforcing them through disciplinary measures is a very vital aspect that HR and the organizational leaders will have to enforce. Employees should stay home or go home if they have symptoms of coronavirus infection. Given the threat this epidemic presents, managers shouldn’t hesitate to send employees who present with Covid-19 symptoms home.
2. Is my organization prepared to have employees working from home if required even in
the post lockdown period? Can I do away with multiple meetings?
In the future, it will be important for offices to have flexible ways and methods of working enabling offices to have minimal staff thus minimizing the risk of spread. It will be worthwhile for organizations moving forward to invest in infrastructure, network connectivity, software/ tools and HR policies to facilitate a smooth work from home policy.
Deploying tracking tools and workflow management software and making the organization digitally savvy is surely going to be the order of the day in the times to come. A question that is vital to ask in these times. Ascertain the need for meetings, the frequency of meetings, the social distancing measures during the meeting, and if more importantly, if the meeting can be held virtually within the office itself or over an email communication chain.
3. How much to communicate? Am I over communicating or under communicating?
The assumption that knowing less will keep employee’s worries and insecurities at bay is not the right one. Nothing could be further from the truth. In times like these, it is always better to communicate transparently and sensitively about the financial health of the organization and what might be in store for them. Let’s face it – in times like these, once businesses restart and business goals are revised with the current economic situation in mind, some organizations are forced to take harsh business decisions. Some in the form of pay cuts, unpaid leaves or even retrenchment of staff. While these are inevitable, what can make the difference is the way the leadership communicates them to the organization, especially those affected by it. While the tendency is to be soft and protective, care should be taken to see that no false statements or promises are made which can be confusing and counterproductive to employees in the long run.
4. Do I need to update my customers, partners and vendors as well? How much do I share with my stakeholders?
An organization which communicates internally as well as externally to its shareholders, customers and partners is always viewed as transparent, ethical and sensitive. The more organizations use social media, websites and other digital platforms to keep the external stakeholders and the community at large informed about their business, the more engaged and responsible the internal employees would also feel. What is needed at this stage is empathy and not aggressive selling tactics, and to focus on what will be impacted in a sensitive and transparent manner. For internal employees, it is a matter of pride to be associated with such an organization.
5. Are my employees mentally healthy and can I help in de stressing them?
Organizations will have to, going forward, invest more time and resources in looking after the mental health of the employees through counseling, workshops and even psychological interventions if need be. In addition to having a motivated and healthy workforce, the brand image of an organization that is concerned about the mental well- being of its employees is also definitely higher, and in the times ahead, this is going to be a crucial factor in the business world.
While these are some of the policy related and operational changes that businesses will have to work with, the larger issue is that of an attitudinal shift in the way leaders communicate the vision and purpose of the organization (rethink and reword if required), what kind of a culture do they want in organizations and how will employees be managed and nurtured with reworked performance measures, career growth opportunities and work life balance initiatives.
Here’s a quick list of action points for an organization to implement post the lockdown phase:
1. Re-purpose the vision, business goals and organizational objectives and communicate them clearly across the organization.
2. Re-enforce sanitization and hygiene measures in the workplace and carry out as many sensitization sessions, as needed.
3. Re-work on the format of internal communications, and meetings, keeping social distancing and employee safety in the forefront. Consider implementing a WFH policy across the organization for a certain percentage of the workforce to avoid crowding.
4. Re-solve to communicate and communicate openly with your employees, partners and all the stakeholders.
5. Re-affirm that the health of your employees is paramount. Counsel, communicate and collaborate with trained counselors and HR to create a healthy and sound workforce.
This is a huge opportunity for businesses of all kinds and size to take a deeper and wider look into their purpose, realign organizational processes and people practices and come out of this phase with better, healthier and purposeful employees.
It truly is an era of huge challenges, uncertainties but also a time of limitless possibilities, a time for the leadership to shine through by setting an example of humanity, sensitivity and nurturing the workforce for newer and greater heights.
– Written by Sandhya Bhat, Strategic Human Resources Consultant
Sandhya is an Independent Human Resources consultant, with over 20 years of experience in Human Resources, focussed on collaborating with organisations to provide strategic HR solutions and interventions.
It’s Day 1000023 of lockdown. No not really, but it feels like.
Its Day 21 to be precise.
The daily 25 mins drive to office has reduced to a 25 sec walk to the kitchen and living room. The viewership of YouTube videos for new recipes is on an all-time high. Netflix, Amazon, and Hotstar have turned out to be bestest friends. And we all realised that we can do more house work than we actually thought!
After being in advertising for 11 years now, never ever thought that we could pull off the work from home so seamlessly. While we always thought it was impossible to work without physical presence this lockdown took away all those inhibitions. We as a team were able to deliver a pitch presentation beautifully and it seemed like a good journey.
The fun of joining the zoom meetings for work and chatting gives a different high. Nobody is even bothered about the zero make up look, oily hair, and ‘Ghar ka T-Shirt’. There is just one concern: Am I audible? Is my net connection working and so on! It’s so much fun to watch kids popping out of nowhere in front of camera, the flush noise in background and not to forget the mighty kitchen utensils.
Amidst all of this I realised that there is a much more humane side to my office colleagues, my boss and myself too. I now think twice before making calls, as everybody is struggling to strike the right balance between home and office work.
The most worrisome and surprising part is that after being an extrovert for 34 years of my life, I have
started loving this quarantine state and lockdown.
– Kirti Hadap
Manager, Brand Services
Let’s set the premise first. A working mother, with a daughter aged 4.5 years, a working husband, a 1 BHK home. That’s us. Yeah, that’s it. Amidst the pandemic (which should not be named) our daughter’s school, day care and both our offices decided to follow the lockdown and allow us to work from home (very valid).
A day went by to understand, what should we do about this? Both of us being working in dynamic industries, we are heavily dependent on the school, day care, home maids and the support systems around. But none of these were there. What to do?
I remember while I joined back to office after my maternity break, I had to train my mind to switch off and switch on while being at work and at home. It was difficult initially, but after about 5-6 months, I could fairly do it. However, ab to saare switches ek saath on aur off karne ka time tha! Tough task. Plus, while you are home, everyone feels ab toh kaafi time hai… but work from home doesn’t mean work 24×7.
Or does it?
Being used to have a calendar filled with meetings, this sort of working in isolation is different. A couple of days, I guess, we all were experimenting our own way of working at home. Managing your and your families routine, house-hold work, cooking, taking care of kids, and working is next level of multi-tasking. Needs a lot of discipline. But slowly we got a hang of it.
Me and my husband have developed our own spaces for work at home now. We take turns to be with our daughter and ensure she is looked after.
We have team meetings, Zoom calls, key internal meetings and all of that from home. Well, technology has played a huge role in making it easy for us. Looking at all this, my daughter has also started doing video calls to her friends and cousins!
I miss being in office though, miss the vibe, the fun, the laughter, the breaks, the brainstorming, the comfort, the fighting, and pretty much everything. But, the best part is, each one of us is unlearning the way we think works best for us. I could never imagine we working on various campaigns remotely, but yes, we are!
We are in this together and I am sure we will come out of this happy and safe.
– Rewati Bhide
Manager, Brand Services
YashONE Wakad Central, a project by Vilas Javdekar Developers in Wakad, offered many project benefits that were both unique and meaningful. At the same time, the cluttered market scenario in Wakad, presented a challenge to effectively showcase these project features.
It is a known fact that when someone is in a state of confusion, all they seek is a reassurance that is confident and practical without being dramatic and over-indulgent.
We designed a campaign for YashONE Wakad Central, which listed its various features upfront, for the ease of home buyers’ understanding and then concluded it with a simple rhetoric question- Where Else?
The campaign thus made the unique project benefits the highlight, while giving a sense of assurance to the prospective home buyers, by simply telling them that all of this will not be available anywhere else. The result; home buyers flocked to the project site for large number of bookings.
Recently, Gokhale Constructions came up with a novel concept for the redevelopment segment. They decided to have sample residences at their projects, which was a first-ever in Pune’s redevelopment segment. With well-designed interiors, the brand wanted to showcase this “first-ever” with a difference. We at Setu, came up with a simple with quirky take on it.
Over the years, the home buyers have come to know about one common trend- the images and visuals used in the project communication come with a disclaimer that says “Artist’s impression”.
The communication simply presented the visuals of a well-designed sample residence and told Punekars that “this is not an artist’s impression”. Home buyers who had become used to the phrase, found this communication interesting, while presenting the brand’s USP in a catchy manner.
The campaign was appreciated and the site visits went up manifold at all the Gokhale projects. The desired impression had been created on the minds of home-buying Punekars.