As we sit at home, worrying desperately about the future of our families, friends, businesses and the world economy, now might seem to be a strange time to start planning for a post-Coronavirus world. But that it exactly what smart organisations will be doing during this protracted lockdown.
I think already, we are starting to see some trends emerge from this pandemic:
- All organisations, regardless of their size or audience, now need to be digital-first or start planning to become digital-first. Covid19 is to many organisations what the asteroid was to dinosaurs. They just can't cope in the new world. In prehistoric times, that's when mammals emerged. The same will happen in the world of business and indeed non-profits today. There will be a new breed of organisations designed around digital.
- Many companies have proved to be incredibly agile and have already adapted to the lockdown – gym instructors, yoga teachers, restaurants, garden centres.
- The golden age of the office may be drawing to a close. As many organisations emerge from Covid-19, they may realise that staff were happier and more productive working from home.
- There is a massive question mark over the future of retail. Clear winners are online retailers and local shops whilst department stores and traditional high street retailers are massively suffering.
- The move to a new business paradigm has hugely accelerated. For several years people have been talking about a 4thIndustrial Revolution where we ‘harness converging technologies in order to create an inclusive, human-centred future’ (World Economic Forum - https://www.weforum.org/focus/fourth-industrial-revolution). Well we need to speed up our preparations.
- Climate change is not the same as Coronavirus but it threatens to destabilise society and disrupt business in a similar way. All organisations, when planning for the future, need to build in climate change and pandemics into any risk assessments
Good communications is absolutely central to all these emerging themes. No longer the preserve of PR or marketing departments, communications now impacts almost all areas of a business. As such, most larger companies should have a Head of Comms or a Chief Communications Officer (CCO) who has jurisdiction over all internal and external channels.
In smaller organisations, the business owner or senior partner should take a proactive role in understanding how to communicate with their various stakeholder audiences – e.g. customers, suppliers, staff, prospective staff, press or opinion-formers.
And all organisations, regardless of their size or audience, need to be creating a comprehensive business communications strategy so they can engage effectively with today’s myriad audiences and audience channels.
If there was ever a good time to do this, it would be now!
Stay safe; stay sane; stay positive!