Spring is in the air, the sun has been gloriously shining and – for the first time in a long time – it feels like the glimmers of hope we’ve all been waiting for are finally here to stay.
The last year has been a rollercoaster. Our lives and worlds were all turned upside down. The lines between ‘work life’ and ‘personal life’ became increasingly blurred. Bedrooms became offices. Kitchens became classrooms. People walked more miles than they ever dreamt possible. Zooms became a staple diet. Online shopping hit the stratosphere. Words like pivot and diversify were dished out left, right and centre. At different times we all flourished – and then we all floundered.
And now, if you whisper it quietly, it looks like something vaguely resembling a world we once knew is starting to appear out of the COVID-induced fog.
Slowly, society is starting to reopen. But it would be a travesty if we simply returned to what we remember as normal – for the past year has changed everything. This reopening isn’t just a chance to return to the status quo. It’s an opportunity for all of us to reopen better – to take the lessons the past 12 months have taught us and use them to shape a better, richer and fuller future.
Here’s why I believe business is going to bounce back better:
Many businesses were forced to adapt and change as a result of the pandemic. Now is the chance to refine this change. From remote, flexible working and the widespread adoption of video conferencing through to the explosion of app culture and changing business models, the business mindset has shifted. It’s no longer a question of what should we do but rather, what can we do.
For example, a year ago many restaurants and bars would have seen an app as something that would be nice to have – now having one has become essential to meet consumer expectations. Innovation and ingenuity have been commonplace. Instead of being defined by problems, we’ve chased after solutions. Many businesses, Jarrang included, have launched new products, honed their offerings and doubled-down on putting the customer first.
Businesses have listened to the market and given people what they want – whether that’s a cook-at-home meal kit from a high end restaurant or big movie studios releasing the latest blockbusters straight to streaming services. This shift in mindset is here to stay and will only grow stronger, rewarding those who have the courage to follow it.
Business and working operations have advanced 10 years in the past 12 months, redefining the way we work. People have embraced working from home and flexible working – many realising that (despite widespread popular beliefs) that it actually improves productivity and morale. The way we work – and our relationship to work – will never be the same again.
For years, the way we use technology in our business lives has lagged behind the way we use tech in our day-to-day personal lives. This gap has been significantly reduced with many businesses turning to different technology solutions to drive efficiency forward and eliminate labour-intensive tasks (think HR admin) which for years had been simply accepted as the way things are done.
What’s more, industries like retail have been forced to accelerate their use of digital technology to facilitate everything from curbside pickup to unifying their physical and online stores – with those businesses who failed to do so swiftly being left behind by the competition.
Of course, things like AI, automation and the widespread use of tech will bring with them new problems we haven’t foreseen but the past year has given us a glimpse of the potential the future holds.
Shifting mindsets, innovation and the use of tech have all been great to see. But they don’t come close to the renewed importance that’s been put on relationships. And the businesses who have truly shined have been those who’ve taken a ‘humanity-first’ approach – whether that’s in the relationship they have with their customers, their suppliers or their employees. When (fingers crossed) the pandemic becomes a distant memory, people will remember the businesses who were there for them when times were toughest.
They’ll remember the hotels who sent email marketing campaigns with ideas of how to create a ‘at home’ spa day or videos of how to recreate recipes from their kitchen. They’ll remember the gyms and personal trainers who were there everyday with different ideas to keep active. And they’ll remember the businesses who put empathy and compassion first.
Building these kinds of relationships is the most important aspect when it comes to building long term customer value. It’s something that shouldn’t stop with reopening – instead, it should take on an even greater importance. There will still be fear out there (mingled with the excitement of reopening) and now is not the time to try and make a quick profit. Now is the time to carry on putting people first.
To everyone out there who has just reopened or are gearing up to reopen – good luck from all of us here at Jarrang. We’re looking forward with positivity to what the rest of 2021 holds and we believe the bouncing back for better has only just begun.