It has been more than 100 days since India went under lockdown. The country is slowly opening up now. The recent outbreak of the COVID – 19 has caused a tectonic shift in most people’s lives.
WFH is the new norm now, many companies are now willing to extend this facility even after the lockdown is lifted. In our endeavour of bringing our readers views from a wide variety of stakeholders in the industry Medianews4u spoke to Sudish Balan, Chief Business Officer, Tonic Worldwide
As WFH is the new culture which will be adopted by many companies, how have you positioned yourself?
WFH is not a new concept for an agency like ours. As a policy we have WFH provisions for our employees. Yes, this WFH has been different for all of us because it has been for ‘all of us’, wherein the whole organization is remotely working. Our experience in collaborative work with our offices in Bangalore,Delhi and Dubai was an advantage for us. We just replicated those systems and tools across the organization for remote functioning. It has worked out well for us though the teams had initial hiccups, but it was smoothened within the first 10 days of Lockdown. In the new normal and even after things get normal, we are comfortable to continue the WFH way of working as much as possible.
Innovations in the Digital Industry?
Brands have definitely changed the way they communicated. Most brands have also rushed in to comment on the current situation and it’s led to virtue signaling for some. It is a tight rope to walk between focusing on commerce and being useful to consumers during times like these.
What kind of communication tools have been developed to help clients?
Tools change from brand to brand. The way every brand communicates during this period is vastly different. Our endeavour has been to craft a specific communication strategy and plug tools based on the strategy we want to implement.
Communication Strategy post lockdown for clients and self?
Post Lockdown, business might be usual, but the way business will be done might completely change. Peoples need will change and so will their spending habits. Due to resource crunch customers will buy value products instead of splurging on Luxuries. Brands will have to take heed of this customer requirement and offer an exhaustive essential product segment.
Social distancing might still be the norm for a long time hence customers will not be keen to visit stores and would prefer to purchase online. Brands will need to have a strong digital presence along with convenient fulfilment channels. Customers will also want to experience the product digitally, so it’s imperative for brands to have ample video content to showcase their products. Augmented reality and Virtual reality experiences will be the way brands will help customers experience their products and services.
As a Communication and strategy expert, what are your thoughts on this unprecedented pandemic?
My thoughts are no different from everybody on this planet, it is a pandemic and maybe it could not have chosen a better time to hit us. Global economy was already under strain due to various reasons. But as I believe these are times where a Brand can impress upon its customers that we are in this together and we will get through this. Brands will need to consistently engage with its audiences. Optimism and confidence of Longevity will have to be the brands attitude.
It is a slump and as per predictions we will be hit by the worst recession ever. But its times like these new businesses come into existence. Our needs and our priorities are changing, and Brands need to understand this psyche of its consumers. Some brands will have to pivot and readjust product offerings. We will have to understand the changed needs of the consumers and talk to them how we can fulfil it.
Positivity during the crisis
As digital was the best way to go for brands, the lockdown got us busier than before. Increase in quantum of work along with remote functioning did take its toll on the team. But we have been constantly in touch with our team members. We also ensured that we were keeping our team in good spirits by regularly hosting events. Every Friday evening, we have been conducting events like live concerts to games. It is our way of showing that we are still connected even though we are divided by distance.
One of the most important measure we have taken at this juncture is to introduce a time sheet system. We were always averse to having time sheet in our organization as we never felt the need to keep a watch on our people. We had to do it now for a different reason altogether… to limit the number of hours people are working! Working from home comes with a pitfall that there are no working hours. Our team members don’t realize the number of hours they are putting in as they are in the comfort of their homes and work long hours as per the needs of the managers. We needed to control this and ensure that there is work life balance maintained just like we maintain it in our office.
A learning and a message to the young millennials.
Business wise I am an optimist and I look at the brighter side of things. Someone rightly said, ‘Never waste a good crisis’. I believe in it because its times like these that we are pushed to do our best to find solutions, so it should be looked as an opportunity. The last financial crisis was in 2008 which led to the great recession. Behemoth brands like UBER, Whatsapp and Instagram were created in this period. So, consider this as an opportunity to pivot or look at things differently.