The new normals in a post covid-19 world include one major shift in the way business will be conducted, and that is working from home. Multiple MNCs have already announced their work from home policy even after Covid-19 is defeated.
In a world post-lockdown, where the rules of the game are set to change, or rather have already changed, the way forward for co-working spaces in the country is certainly an unknown road.
The nation-wide lockdown is slowly being lifted across orange and green zones and life is slowly crawling back to a new-normalcy. Businesses and brands are now are making their way back into the business; planning their communication plans for a new world post the covid-19 lockdown.
Well Covid-19 is not over yet, but it’s definitely the start of good. It’s time for Back to Business…
Vineet Singh, Head – Brand and Marketing in India for WeWork shared insights of how they have been dealing with the pandemic while highlighting their post-lockdown plans.
How are you coping up with the impact of Covid-19 on WeWork India? How effectively have you used the lockdown period?
The current scenario is difficult for all sectors and COVID-19 has brought its fair share of challenges for workspace providers. Old ways of marketing have taken a backseat, and brands are increasingly realizing the need to change the marketing playbook. The changing times have offered brands the opportunity to create solutions that foster social interactions online, and combat these challenging times while reaching out to their audiences. We too, are focusing on reaching out to our audience through digital campaigns during this ongoing crisis and knit our communities together. For example, recently we used a video to showcase how our offices are empty without our community, and how we are looking forward to getting the workforce back while making sure that their spaces are safe for them.
As a brand we are in this together with our members and our communities and are doing all efforts to keep them connected to their space. We have also closed certain partnerships with the likes of upGrad, Lark, Practo for our members and employees; these partnerships offer exclusive benefits to our members and employees as they continue working remotely. For example, Practo is providing free online consultations for our members and employees.
The quest for a solution to a particular crisis helps invent new business opportunities and sometimes leads to a revision of existing business models … What sort of innovation has or will the Covid-19 pandemic bring to WeWork India?
Increased usage of digital tools is something everyone is looking at. As a brand, we have continuously engaged with our members through events, but in light of the recent changes with COVID-19, we have taken the entire experience online. We have created an ecosystem where members can have that same experience and will feel the same connection as they did on ground. I would also like to tell you about a small step that we have taken in some cities, where the front desks now support screens that have a community member on it virtually all the time. This is to make sure that our members still feel the same connection with the community when they enter the space while all safety and social distancing measures are also followed. This step limits human interaction physically and is aimed at providing the same member experience that WeWork is known for.
While some parts of the country have become Covid-19 free, cities like Mumbai and Delhi are still in a lockdown situation. How are you planning to resume business across cities that are not in the Red?
From an operations perspective, our teams have been working tirelessly putting into place a stringent set of measures to ensure that that all safety and health protocols are in place before the offices are allowed to open. As a responsible organization, we are abiding all government rules and will open our spaces as per the directives by the government.
While cities like Mumbai and Delhi have stringent lockdown restrictions, Bangalore has eased up certain restrictions in a controlled gradual manner. We are keeping a watch on all updates from the central and state governments and are planning the phased approach accordingly.
What will be your communication strategy post the opening of the lockdown? With many companies opting a work from home policy even after the lockdown ends… What will be the objective of the communication/marketing strategy?
Our communication strategy post lockdown would be focused on the new needs and concerns of our members. We understand that more than ever, safety and security would now be the prime concern in everyone’s mind as they prepare themselves to venture out again.
We plan to market the message of reassurance not only around the health and safety of all our members but also about how we as an organization are prepared to support the businesses that are seeing a shift in their model. With companies looking to cut back on their fixed assets and looking at office spaces as a variable cost, along with changes in their team strengths and rostered schedules being implemented, we would like to communicate our offerings that are flexible and can be customized as per the needs of our clients.
The need of the hour is to support all sized businesses that are affected across sectors and WeWork is well equipped to ensure the office space requirement is well taken care of, keeping health and safety at the forefront.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? On a personal note, what kept you positive?
For us at WeWork, our members and employees hold utmost importance and are at the forefront of everything we do. We understand that there has been a massive shift in working environments and for us, keeping in constant touch with all our community was imperative throughout.
We ensured that there was a constant line of communication with our members and employees and they felt connected virtually as well. We have been hosting virtual events and campaigns online to be connected with our community. We have also invested in professional development through workshops, training and other modules. We recently had sessions like The Art of Mindful Eating with Sarah Edwards, CEO of Copper and Cloves and Sweat at Home with Nike training coach Swetha Subbiah, which were interactive sessions around how to keep your mind and body fit. We are also taking constant feedback and check-ins with members and employees on how we can help them deal with this new normal a little better.
We engage in various activities to keep up the employee morale with different fun sessions like virtual classes on baking where employees can join the classes as well as catch up with each other. We still host our TGIM – ‘thank God it’s Monday’ but now virtually where the team joins to catch up as well as discuss what’s happening in the company and plans for the coming months.
For example, for my team, we went ahead and tweaked our tea breaks to fit the current situation. Normally we would take a short break or step out of office with colleagues but now these are also done virtually in groups making it a fun ‘chai session’.
Personally for me, I think just engaging with my team has been very helpful. Staying connected with them through regular group and one-on-one sessions helps me stay positive. I have also read a lot about the way brands have previously dealt with crises, for example the 2008 recessions. It keeps me optimistic because this is not the first time brands have had to deal with an unprecedented crisis, in fact many brands have come out of crisis like these better.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring the business back on track or at least get it in the right direction and also create demand for yourself by encouraging newer business to come setup their workspaces at WeWork India?
The pandemic has led to enterprises relooking at the feasibility of their business model. The need to integrate a variable model and added changes in the team structure coupled with the prioritization of health and safety would lead to them seeking office space solutions that offer flexibility. This is an opportunity for us as WeWork’s space as a service model offers customization along with flexibility. This shift in the future of work will be well supported by our spaces as we offer office space solutions as well as access to an enterprising and diverse community. The need to be a part of a community after a long period of working remotely would also be seen amongst members. Leveraging innovative digital tools keeping health and safety in mind, members would be welcomed back warmly by their community.