News flash… The pandemic is no longer an excuse to be ordinary! It’s been a rollercoaster… things that felt so odd a year ago, now feel relatively normal. As individuals, communities and businesses we’ve accepted, adapted, and got on with it. Consumers were patient and understanding when it was clear we are adapting on the run. Today they expect that we’ve paused, pivoted and embedded the necessary changes to get moving again. Not only do your customers deserve to interact with an engaged, focused version of you that is strongly connected to purpose, they expect it. And in a competitive market, your future success depends on it.
So, how quickly can you get focused on the ‘right’ things and make the most of today? It’s time to take steps to stop the pandemic becoming a convenient excuse to be ordinary.
The game has changed
“Be safe, be smart, be kind” – Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, March 2020
Firstly, recognise that the game has changed. The people you interacted with a year ago are not the same. Reflecting on some of the current research from Australia and overseas, we see three common ‘human’ themes emerge that highlight how much the game has changed.
Freedom – lost & found
Our sense of freedom has shifted. Our dreams of zipping around the globe, have been replaced by a more simple appreciation of being able to step out the front door whenever we want, for as long as we want. We’ve embraced the change… we’ve enjoyed the benefits of working remotely and learned to appreciate face-to-face time with our colleagues and clients. People have tried new routines, found new activities, and identified what matters most to them. These choices are impacting everything from the expectations of employers, to traffic, to our preferred venue for our daily coffee.
Our need for physical and psychological safety has been heightened. This varies significantly depending on where you live, and the experiences that you’ve been exposed to. Many of us have been more willing to share our feelings and vulnerabilities. Wellbeing conversations have shifted from quiet rooms, to open areas, and on to the top of meeting agendas. This was previously unheard of in many workplaces. At the same time, our tolerance has dropped for activities and behaviours that threaten our wellbeing. Empty hand sanitiser, no masks in crowded spaces, a cough on the bus, paying with cash…
Community is close to home
We’ve experienced a greater sense of community spirit, connecting with our neighbours and supporting people around us – even if they’re far away. Online shopping has boomed, yet the focus on ‘buy local and shop local’ has been significant in Australia. We’re looking for Australian made, heading for local produce, and seeking out local suppliers. Importantly, people are willing to invest more time, energy and money to support their local community. We recognise the value and support that our contribution can bring to those around us. These global trends are playing out in your community. It’s time to ask… how have these shaped the behaviour of your customers and staff? What opportunities do they represent for your business?
Your business has changed
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” – W. Edwards Deming
Regardless of the market environment you started in, and whether you’ve been able to pivot, most businesses have a shared challenge in 2021… resources are strapped, and waste is a luxury we can’t afford. Think about your pandemic-enforced changes from the follow perspectives…
Temporary v Embedded
Most business operations have had to change in some way, often in a hurry. Some of these are still temporary, others have been embedded. In an uncertain world everything feels a little temporary. In 2021 obvious temporary solutions can give customers the impression you won’t last. It’s time to shift from ‘cobbled together’ band-aid solutions to something more permanent. One of the most obvious examples is signage. Tired, ‘out of date’ signs highlight that you haven’t taken a moment to look at your business through your customers eyes! If your changes still feel temporary, are they really worth keeping?
Productive v Unproductive
Have the changes you have made added value to your customers, staff and business, or drained it? If you’re not sure, how can you tell? You could be at risk of systematically upsetting customers, or missing opportunities. For example, are you encouraging cash while everyone else is avoiding it? Is that a smart move? Think about the changes you’ve made… are they positive for the stakeholders that matter most to your business? Do they outweigh the cost?
Make the most of it!
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” — Mark Twain
How to we plan to make the most of today? Jump out of ‘ordinary’ with these 3 steps
- Feedback! Get out, talk to your customers and staff, listen to what they have to say… act on the insights that emerge to focus your efforts. You don’t have to guess what has worked and what hasn’t, people will appreciate the opportunity to tell you… remember we’re all keen to support the people and organisations we care about!
- Remove waste, find opportunities. Based on the feedback you receive, work through your ‘pandemic’ changes and identify any that are temporary and unproductive and remove them immediately. These changes are creating clutter, and holding you back from doing your best work, and finding valuable opportunities.
- Be adaptable. Make decisions based on today’s circumstances to keep moving forward. In the background, have your contingency plans ready in the event that things change again suddenly. We’ve proven we can adapt when we need to, and customers will continue to support you if they feel you’re on top of the day-to-day.
Things are improving, even though certainty about the future isn’t guaranteed. We’ve shown we are resilient in the face of change, and customers expect us to be ready to meet their needs once again. So let’s plan to make the most of every day and have some fun with people along the way…
Because the pandemic is no longer an excuse to be ordinary!