None of us can predict the “new normal” in a post-COVID-19 world.
A group of about 20 professional marketers and communicators explored this topic recently. Instead of meeting together at a Caffeinated Connections: Brand Builders Breakfast event, we came together on a Zoom call.
We discussed how business — and the ways in which we conduct it — could change based on what we have learned whenever we head down the backside of the COVID-19 curve. We certainly didn’t come up with all the answers, but we did have a lot of questions.
We concluded that marketing and communications leaders should ask these and other questions fairly soon. The future of their businesses may depend on the answers.
Corporate travel? Do we really need to get to Boston, LA, Dallas, New York or Chicago by Monday for that meeting? Can’t we Zoom it? Remote meetings sure seemed to work fine during the pandemic.
Schedule a meeting? Is it really that important to squeeze everyone into the small conference room in the back of the office to discuss the latest development? Most of the business world has been exposed to any of a number of online meeting platforms and found them quite acceptable.
Media production value? Do we still need the same incredibly high production value (read: cost) for the media we use to sell products or services? Talk show hosts and newscasters are broadcasting from their living room while essential workers on the frontline are capturing the attention of the world with raw, compelling smartphone footage. While this authentic content may not benefit from high production value, its value and impact has been immense.
Is local the new global? Has the global pandemic identified a weakness of globalized business? Rather than dispersing risk across markets and time zones, have we actually increased risk to an unacceptably high level in the event of another global disruption? Or …
Is the world really that small? Has this rapid, global, viral bloom simply confirmed that countries cannot isolate and that, generally speaking, we are a world community and our economies and societies are irreversibly and forever connected?
Do I need all this office space? We had to work from home and it really didn’t suck, at least not too badly. While we struggled with the separation, does everyone really need to be in the office five days a week? Can’t we collaborate in less space with more people joining in remotely?
Where’s the line between professional and personal? Is it wrong to hear an occasional dog bark or see an adorable four-year-old sneak a quick parental hug or snuggle during an online meeting, or does that brief glimpse into colleagues’ lives allow for a deeper connection and enable us to empathize more with the pressure on working parents and the flexibility needed to be productive?
Do I really need to squeeze that tomato? The world has been forced to change buying behaviors to comply with social distancing. Do I really need to squeeze the tomato before I buy it? Or, will online ordering and the expectation of free delivery — whether from large retailers or small, local businesses — become the norm?
The answers to all these questions may dramatically change how we do business in the future. While it may be too soon to predict the “new normal” while we’re still “in it” up to our ears, every business should be assessing the changes brought about by COVID-19 and challenging themselves with the most important question:
Are there opportunities to be found in a post-COVID-19 world and is my business open enough, curious enough, smart enough and brave enough to find them?