We’re bearing witness to perhaps the biggest shake-up of global markets since the emergence of the internet. And as the world prepares itself for a seismic shift in business and working practices, we ask ourselves what we can expect and how we can best prepare for what lies ahead.
Technology is key
The internet and subsequent mobile revolution promised to free us from the confines of the office years ago. However, in reality many of us are still beholden to inefficient or outdated working practices: especially when it comes to where, how and when people work.
While the gig economy has offered greater flexibility and freedom of choice, as current events highlight, part-time workers don’t enjoy the same benefits as full-time employees, leaving them without the job security and peace of mind of regular nine-to-fivers.
As the workforces of large and small organisations around the world are forced into a period of remote working, the roles, responsibilities and rights of both employers and employees will require clearer guidance, greater clarification and better definition. New routines will need to be established, old hierarchies abandoned, and new boundaries built between personal and professional life. The ramifications alone for HR, legal, technology, insurance, cyber security and data protection are bound to cause sleepless nights in the coming weeks and months.
All in the planning
While it’s impossible to predict with certainty how the current scenario will play out; the implications will be far-reaching and a have a lasting impact on our collective psyche.
The best course of action is to stay positive and prepare ourselves for whatever lies ahead.
Over the years we’ve helped many of our clients to manage, mitigate and navigate changing markets and hostile environments. By playing out various scenarios we can test and predict potential outcomes. Planning in this way requires some serious soul searching, deep thinking and internal engagement. Focusing people’s attention allows them to become familiar with unexpected changes, enabling them to be ready if and when they materialise.
As with any crisis there also comes opportunity and building visibility during times of uncertainty will be vital to maintaining a position of leadership or market dominance. It also means you’ll be in the best possible shape to capitalise on your plans when the dust settles, and the new norm emerges.
To help you navigate this most turbulent of times we’ve developed a few handy tips.
1. Plan, plan and plan some more
Map out your current sales, marketing and communication activities. Look for ways to stress test them against various scenarios like restrictions on trade and travel, less money, fewer people, or shorter timelines. What impact will these outcomes have on your market predictions and budgets, and how can you mitigate against them going forward?
2. Market and communicate
Often, in scenario planning, budgets for marketing and communications are the first to get cut. It isn’t always easy to justify spend on marketing and comms when budgets are being slashed, belts tightened and jobs potentially lost. In our experience not doing so will be detrimental to your future endeavours and can put you behind the market when conditions begin to stabilise again. Build your case for marketing spend by demonstrating how budgets will be used effectively throughout this period.
3. Get social (albeit electronically)
Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn can be cost-effective channels that still enable you to keep in touch with clients and promote your evolving business activities. They also allow you to communicate quickly to clients and customers and to occupy a position of thought leadership in uncertain times.
4. Update your website
Now is an ideal time to make updates or refresh your website with news, blogs or case studies etc. People may not be able to attend tradeshows or physical stores, but your website is the next best thing to getting yourself in front of clients.
5. Keep internal lines of communication open
It’s vital that you keep talking to colleagues throughout this period. You may be physically apart but keeping communication channels open and continuing to share vital information ensures everyone stays on top of changes and how they’ll affect business plans going forward.
6. Be open and flexible
New ways of working present their own set of challenges and can mean unforeseen eventualities. However, try to encourage people to stay open and flexible to these changes as they’re happening. By trusting them you’ll stand a better chance of navigating the changing landscape and engaging people along the way.
7. Offer help and assistance but don’t be afraid to ask for help
We’re all in this together so look for ways to support clients, colleagues and peers. Being isolated doesn’t mean that we’re alone in this situation. Let people know you’re there for them if they’re struggling or need help. Equally, don’t be afraid to call on colleagues and peers for help and advice yourself.
8. Try to stay positive
It’s easy to allow yourself to get bogged down in negativity, especially with so much news focusing on doom and gloom. Try not to believe everything you read especially online. Continue to check official and impartial sources of information, and look for more positive, upbeat news stories or those that offer help and advice.
9. Get in touch with clients
Clients are feeling the effects of this crisis too. Make sure you’re continuing to communicate with them. Let them know that you’re still there for them and have their best interests at heart. Look for ways to demonstrate your value to them that might not be about selling more products or services.
10. Keep calm and carry on
We’ve all seen the posters promoting calmness and the need to persevere in the face of adversity. This more than ever is the approach we need right now. We’re facing adversity but united together we can do this!
10 years ago, Emberson set out with the ambition to disrupt the agency model. To provide an alternative approach to the inefficiencies and collective challenges we’d seen and experienced in our agency careers.
Being distributed (without a central office) from day one allowed us the freedom, flexibility and agility to operate in a way that provided a completely different approach. In the beginning it felt unfamiliar and scary. As time passed and the wheels started to turn, we found new patterns emerging, time became our ally again. But it’s not a hobby business or ‘virtual agency’: in 2019 Emberson was honoured with a Queen’s Award for Industry after growing our export output 3 years in succession.
As a group our mental well-being improved as did our physical health as many of us took up running, yoga and cycling. And importantly we did this at times that suited us, rather at the crack of dawn, an hour squeezed in over lunch or last thing at night! We spent time with our families, friends and pets (albeit virtually sometimes)! Our new schedules shifted to better suit individual working patterns – and we’ve never missed a deadline!
Go easy on yourselves, take it one day at a time. Be strong, stay positive and connected, you’ve totally got this! If you need any advice or want to talk things through, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org