Boost business relationship manager Gill Millington ponders over what may become the new normal for businesses and how we may communicate and work together in the future.
So the past normal was often characterised by us all working in our own bubbles, often happy with the fruits of our labour and seeing our businesses grow.
The present being only a proportion of us still being able to work, hampered by health or economic issues, and due to a vile disease that shows no discrimination.
We hear some wonderful stories of people sacrificing, of businesses donating, and of people adapting and doing very different jobs to help keep life going.
The present is where we have a digital culture that is still working, whilst retail and leisure are trying to work out how to adapt and stay visible and present.
I live down a quiet country lane which leads to a river, and I would rarely see people walking down it. Now, after working, I will sit out in my front garden on a bench, getting some air (it’s OK, I am still able to social distance) and see a constant trickle of people walking.
The biggest difference I notice – apart from the obvious increase in footfall – is that most choose to engage, and we often speak, wave etc. I am of an age that I remember that this used to happen – so is this all part of the present normal and can we carry that element forward?
So then, the new normal will be what?
So whilst acknowledging the challenging environment within which we will all be working for the foreseeable future, I thought I would take time out to consider if we can take parts of the present normal and work it into the future normal.
Can we keep building this wonderful human side to our lives, where maybe it has been lacking? When we put down our gadgets and pay attention to others, can we continue to be aware more of our surroundings, pay greater attention to the various communities we are in and give back, both in our personal lives and also as part of our businesses?
How then can we carry this forward in our plans and work out how to continue giving whilst still earning a crust?
Can our digital business community work with those that need support and offer them a little something?
So for instance, hold webinars and give away some of your secrets, work with local businesses helping them adapt. How about using peer networking to work through issues, forming partnerships to pass business between each other? We are already seeing some fantastic examples of this within Lancashire.
All this of course can done via digital means – using technology. After all, we have managed to lessen our air pollution, so surely this must be part of our new normal?
What is the role of digital technology?
I was chatting to various retail businesses that can’t trade at the moment and asked the question is this where Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality comes in? Offering tours of premises that are full of unused stock; a virtual tour perhaps so goods can be offered online.
Someone then pointed out, isn’t this called ecommerce? Of course this is, but in the new normal is this something that needs looking at? To have only online stores and gain traction in it, businesses may need to spend a lot of money getting the attention they need. Will this translate into only those who are cash rich doing well?
Events businesses have been hit hard – but can they adapt and use digital again to offer a new concept? We are seeing lots of celebrity events now appear on YouTube. Hopefully this concept will become more mainstream/inclusive when this all ends.
Are loyalty schemes worth thinking about?
Your business helped/did something different in the present, and people remember and want to use those people, just as they will remember those who were hard hearted. It’s the whole, paying forward thing, is this something we need to get on board with?
There’s lots to think about and more to come.
We’re all in this together and we are here to help Lancashire businesses plan, adapt and succeed. We have done it in the Past, Present and will continue to do it in the Soon to be New Normal.
Gill is an experienced marketer and digital geek, having spent the last twelve years growing and learning as the digital industry has grown.
She started out working for multi-nationals and then started up her own business involved in commercial finance, before changing to digital, where she deals with SEO, social media and reputation management.