A brave new world during coronavirus: lesson 1 – go virtual

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25/03/2020

None of us need reminding of the current and ongoing fallout from coronavirus. Chances are you’re bored to tears reading about it, but also can’t tear your eyes away from the latest news bulletin. However, what we do need, personally and in business, is a reminder that it won’t last forever, that we can learn from it, and that there are proactive things we can do to have an impact now as well as in the future. While we have to deal with immediate challenges, this is also the time to look for adapting. Key to that, if we take a cue from our friends in China, are virtual solutions.

Booming virtual industries during quarantine

Industries across the board are being hit by coronavirus. However, trends from China indicate that the industries that have really boomed in quarantine are, unsurprisingly perhaps, virtual and digital. During quarantine everyone has been at home, and it doesn’t take long for us to get bored and frustrated. Man/woman cannot live on anxiety alone! Naturally, people have been spending a lot of time looking at their phones, watching television, streaming on Netflix and doing app-based workouts and fitness routines.

In particular, the gaming industry in China is booming, to the point where “titles like popular battle arena game Honor of Kings [were] severely unequipped to meet player demand.” The Independent reported last month that: “Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad tweeted that more than 100m people are attempting to log into Honor of Kings every day, compared to roughly 60m before the outbreak.”

The message we can take from this? Well, aside from downloading the games you want sooner rather than later, the message is to look for ways that we can innovate on a virtual platform. That might mean looking at e-vouchers that can be given as gifts and redeemed at a later date. Pubs and restaurants are already looking at offering delivery services (insurance permitting), and personal trainers are doing online classes and sessions.

Looking to the future, digitisation may also offer help in rebuilding and even future proofing organisations against similar challenges, should they occur again. Now is the time to strategise… tempting as reruns of The Crown are… and the role of a good Fractional CMO or Non-executive Director is to channel the anxiety and help us to take a step back, look beyond it and forge an actionable path forward rather than being paralysed by fear and simply reacting to it.

Workplace support through in digitisation

From the other side of the working coin, digitisation offers plenty by way of opportunities and platforms in order to keep the daily operations of business and team communication in progress. Most of us work on computers and other virtual devices anyway, so the methods for working from home, for example, are not entirely foreign to us. However, for those who are used to going into an office, the mindset for working from home can be a challenge.

In China, the lack of a daily routine proved extremely difficult for many. Once the structure of getting up, taking the kids to school and arriving at their desk was gone, so too was the working headspace. For anyone who already works from home, you will know the discipline it takes not to treat each day like a holiday. It’s the kind of fear that has often prevented employers from having a wider work from home policy. However, some responsibility for this falls onto business owners and managers, who do have it within their power to create a working structure beyond the four walls of the office. The myriad of virtual communications available offer bountiful opportunities to keep your team motivated and on track. This is a good time to explore those options and find the one(s) that works best for you.

At gigCMO, our global team is entirely familiar with working remotely and checking in with regular video conferencing. As we have team members who work in and with China as well, for weeks the meetings that we normally have in person have been replaced with remote catchups, that don’t need to be formal to be effective. By scheduling calls, virtual team meetings and briefings, in the same way we would physical ones, we are still able to have that interaction and valuable level of communication wherever we are.

Meanwhile, developing a process that retains the sense of accountability that you would have in an office is an excellent way of keeping your team supported, proactive and productive, as well as reducing anxiety about the surrounding circumstances. Furthermore, it is a way of providing reassurance to clients, showing you are still there and reminding them of the value that you offer.

Virtual communications may even provide cost-effective solutions that you choose to keep in place post COVID-19!

You have the tools, now adapt the mentality

The important thing here is not the availability of virtual options; we already have those. What most organisations need to help their teams with, are our patterns of behaviour. At the moment we are used to virtual communications, but we see them generally as an option rather than a necessity. In lots of cases, clients and leaders still feel as though a virtual call is a less beneficial way of interacting than meeting in person. In short, people tend to be comfortable in their existing way of working.

Now we are finding that there is a sudden need to change our behaviours. The temporary expectation of that change has the capacity to fuel this sense of ‘time off work’. But this is proof that we need to evolve our behaviours, not just as a response to crisis, but because necessity might indeed be the mother of invention in this case.

Create a virtual strategy for now and the future of your business.