All the good works that brands did during the worst times of the crisis haven't gone unnoticed by consumers and employees. But the challenge now is to stay the course and create a more empathetic environment for all.
The Covid-19 pandemic ushered in one of the most significant changes for businesses in recent times. It pushed brands to bid a final adieu to procrastination and swiftly act on much-awaited processes that had become a regular feature in many a boardroom discussion.
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Take, for instance, the entire Work From Home (WFH) concept. The pandemic drove corporates to switch working models overnight to accommodate the now popular WFH process and in the transition also firmly cemented the role of technology integration in firms both large and small, in order to maintain business continuity. Two lockdowns and almost two years later, we’ve come to appreciate the “hybrid model” while viewing and understanding the workforce in an entirely different light.
At the forefront of this change was adversity that forced everyone to rethink some of the most basic and fundamental values of a business. Having been put in a position to either swim or sink, the pandemic years can be defined as a watershed moment when brands converted intent into action.
Putting people front and centre
At the centre of this whirlwind of change was the workforce that needed to be put front and centre. The pandemic opened us to employee engagement programmes unlike any that we’ve seen in the past. This evolution has paid off handsomely during these troubled times. Creating an environment rich in empathy and understanding, ensured that employees not only received their due share of recognition but also propelled brands to put their best foot forward to keep people motivated and charged to adapt to this new normal.
Mental health ailments that were historically socially stigmatised became one of the most talked-about concerns through this rather challenging time. We’ve come out of the pandemic having learnt crucial lessons regarding putting people first and conversations around mental health need to become a mainstay for businesses and central to employee-led programmes as well.
Technology to the rescue
In keeping with the constantly shifting goalposts, we’ve had to re-strategise and re-established new business goals taking into consideration the times we are living in. Challenged by virtual boundaries, without a sense of touch and feel, this became a time-to-action “out of box” thinking and deliver a customer experience that, even if it didn’t match the pre-pandemic days, at least came somewhat close.
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While people remained a priority, technology came to the rescue and built bridges in the virtual world to both keep the flock together and keep customers engaged. Technology ensures that we maintain a healthy connection with our partners, customers and stakeholders. Irrespective of competition, sector, or country, brands came together for the first time in solidarity to fight for a common cause.
One of the most heartening examples was from legendary automotive brands Ford and McLaren that have perpetually gone head-to-head in motorsport – joined hands to facilitate the shortage of ventilators to the NHS. In India too, people and brands from disadvantaged backgrounds came together to use social media as a catalyst for change and led the way to tackle emergency medical needs.
Thanks to technology and social media, thousands of families received lifesaving assistance from strangers. Taking stock of the situation, brands too joined hands to double up their efforts and share the load, providing essential services, PPE kits and food packages to the needy. And this call to action hasn’t gone unnoticed by the consumers.
Staying the course
The pandemic has certainly changed the way brands do business and market their offerings to the world at large. On the other side of the same coin is the way brands are perceived in a hyper-connected world today. At a time of utter chaos, people found comfort in brands that communicated their purpose and way forward in a succinct and clear manner.
Our actions in the past two years have set a bar for customer expectation and we need to stay the course. And the mammoth positive outcomes that have emerged from adversity need a sustained effort toward creating an empathetic environment for the workforce. As we inch closer to a safer and more vaccinated world, it is perhaps timely to acknowledge each and everyone who contributed toward keeping the ship sailing through choppy waters.
-Damyant Singh Khanoria is the chief marketing officer of OPPO India. Views expressed are personal.
(Edited by : Bivekananda Biswas)
First Published: Jan 11, 2022 1:10 PM IST