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Being human; how the Covid-19 crisis may have changed business for the better

Clive Armitage

April 09, 2020

If there is one small benefit that comes out of the dreadful situation we have endured with Covid-19, let’s hope it teaches us to be more human in business.  

I’ve written two blogs so far about the way that Agent3 is handling the current Covid-19 crisis. The first, four weeks ago now, focused on how we were going to put our people first and move to an immediate work from home policy.  The second, two weeks ago, looked at how we were adapting as a team to the ‘New Normal’ (surprisingly well, like many others I suspect!).  And now, while we are still very much in the grip of the pandemic, my thoughts are turning more to what life will look like when we emerge from the current crisis. 

There’s already been lots of conjecture about how work styles will change, the way that marketing as a function operates, and which businesses will use this current crisis as a launchpad to ever greater growth (Zoom anyone?).  One thing that has struck me though through the last few weeks is that Covid-19 has touched everyone, regardless of age, gender, race or wealth; this is not a disease that discriminates and none of us are immune from having to cope with its impact.  This has meant that many accepted ways of operating in business have changed dramatically. For example, remember the days when the site of someone on a video call having his child appear in the background was so funny that the footage went viral?  In today’s environment, it’s a rare day if I don’t see someone’s family member wander into the background, during a conference call!  But now we accept it, and are relaxed about it, knowing that we are all just trying to make the best of this current situation and manage our way through it.  

Another example of change comes from the world of executive comms.  Traditionally, messages from the C suite were finely managed; carefully crafted messaging and flawless communications mediums created slick, polished narratives.  Today we are much more likely to see a CEO communicate corporate messaging using his or her iPhone from their personal study. The result feels more authentic, more human somehow.  And much more engaging as a result. Also, how can you not feel more affinity with people you are doing business with when you now have a direct view into their own homes, as you join yet another video call?  Trust me I’m not being judgemental in the slightest about the home decor of some of the people I have spoken to recently, but I certainly feel like I understand them more as human beings when I see the choice of colour palette in their study!

For me, this is the big change we’ve seen over the last few weeks; Covid-19 has democratised us by forcing us all to be stuck in our homes, trying to communicate and conduct business in the best way we can.  And I think we’re better for it because it’s forced us to remove many of the traditionally formal layers of business and engage with each other on a more human and authentic level. I’ve really appreciated this development and truly hope that it continues in the future.  I have a suspicion that it will do and, in turn, it will have an impact on marketing; we’ll need to engage with stakeholders authentically, displaying our personality and humanity whenever possible. So, if there is one small benefit that comes out of the dreadful situation we have endured with Covid-19, let’s hope it teaches us to be more human in business.  

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