The information changes almost daily, so unless you’re a contestant on Big Brother Germany or living carefree inside of a submarine, you’re probably aware of the situation surrounding COVID-19. The virus has seized the attention of the world and COVID-19 has serious implications for every economy and society.
As a business owner, things are probably uncertain and unstable. How are you going to operate when consumers are all stuck at home? How do you adapt service delivery models? Will consumers be too preoccupied with health concerns to consider non-essential purchases? These concerns are valid and history tells us: Businesses who adapt quickly, will come out on top.
Welcome to the new era of consulting in the age of Covid-19.
ISOLATION & SOCIAL DISTANCING ARE OUR NEW REALITY
People all over the world have taken steps to ensure they are doing their duty in the collective effort to stop the pandemic. The term “social distancing” is everywhere. People have been advised to stay in their homes to avoid unnecessary social interactions and slow the virus spread. Although many people believe this will only last for a few weeks, there is truly no guarantee things will get better anytime soon.
Some experts claim a widely available vaccine is still more than six months away. Most people have become confined to their homes forcing us to change habits and routines in ways that at the moment are difficult to predict. For social animals like us to cut off human contact is both hard and unhealthy, so what are the alternatives and how do businesses meet this new reality?
THE INTERNET CONNECTS
Fret not; we do live in the 21st century after all. As people limit their social interactions in person, many have flocked to online congregations to get their dose of human contact, albeit virtually. These online ‘gatherings’ range from discussion groups on Facebook, to live streaming websites, all the way to collaboration tools for employees working at home.
Many are fighting the loneliness that social distancing tends to cause; this has led various online platforms to become a haven of escapism or real-time information.
Just here in Ottawa, Canada, a Facebook group was created within hours of the outbreak to ensure the safety of community members during the initial few weeks. Furthermore, online activities like online gaming and Netflix stream-parties have allowed many to still engage with their friends and family while maintaining their social distances.
Now, most people rely on the internet for their media consumption and social interaction. However, with all this extra time on people’s hands for browsing; they may easily get fatigued with highly produced and corporatized content.
There will most definitely be a spike in people shifting towards content like audiobooks, podcasts, gaming, virtual parties and classrooms as they seek more informative content to keep them occupied for longer.
BUSINESS MATTERS EVEN MORE ONLINE
As many of these online platforms become better suited for the times, businesses should be aware of the paradigm shifts taking place. You need to be thinking about how your business can reach its audience through the web, while people are at home – remote working, many for the first time.
An example of this can be seen with doctors in Ontario. Patients have been meeting with doctors through video calls. This is so hospitals and health care professionals can conserve resources and avoid spreading the virus. Innovations like this will continue, and perhaps society will have an entirely new appreciation for how we can all leverage technology for better long-term social outcomes across all aspects of our lives.
Our challenge as business owners is determining how best to transition to different business models, many of which require either change in consumer behaviour or even regulatory reform to fully realize.
The online congregation of people during this time has created bigger audiences for brands to put their best feet forward and show how they can empathize and even support people in isolation.
Take Grokker.com for example, an online well-being platform. Their service has already allowed many to access videos and guides from the internet any time, anywhere for FREE; it’s a quality brand-building opportunity executed with timeliness and empathy in today’s growing uncertainty. The people at Grokker thought about the stress in people’s lives and are offering their services while the pandemic lasts. The line between being seen as exploiting chaos and enhancing the greater good is a fine one, and it requires creativity, sincerity and exceptional timing.
The coming months are foggy at best, so businesses must be ready to act quickly while recognizing this will be a prolonged disruption and will result in permanent changes to how we relate to brands and to one another.
As people are left to the confinements of their homes, they will be flocking to online platforms for social interaction. It will be the brands who are able to understand and adapt to this new reality who’ll best find success in the age of Covid-19.
Stay safe, stay healthy – and wash your hands.
-Adam Smith, CEO