The world as we know it will look different when this pandemic is over. What matters to businesses (and the world) today looks very different than even a month ago.
- Cleaner air policies may be put in place to help reduce pollution, which has aided the spread of COVID-19 by harming our respiratory systems over years over exposure.
- Organizations that allow employees to work remotely may no longer be seen as the unicorns of employment. Instead, organizations may shift to work from home and remote work options for the long-haul, saving on rent and increasing employee productivity as has been cited by Zapier, Basecamp, Automattic, and Github – all profitable companies that have been remote since their inception.
- The future of supply chains may look a lot more like vertical – with more organizations owning every single part of their business, from production to marketing, allowing them to be more nimble in the face of Black Swan challenges. This also helps to bring back blue collar jobs to the United States, and potentially help to rebuild a shrinking middle class.
Of course, we first have to get through this pandemic, and it remains unclear right now which companies will be able to survive.
- Brands that were darlings in the industry merely a month ago are furloughing and laying off employees.
- Brands that were widely considered to have cornered an entire market and industry are showing their weak spots, and opening vast opportunities for others to swoop in with new, more powerful solutions.
Grief, anxiety, fear: Brands are offering an antidote
It is a time of uncertainty for us all. That uncertainty breeds anxiety and grief, to which one of the stronger antidotes in gratitude, and finding renewed faith in humanity.
Perhaps the businesses that will come out on the other side of this pandemic stronger than ever before are those that are helping people today, right now.
- Those that are shifting their supply chains.
- Those that are taking financial hits to keep employees on board.
- Those that are freeing up their software for worldwide use.
- Those that are proving that servant leadership is the best way to inspire your company, your consumers, and the wider world.
These are the brands that will lead us forward after this pandemic. Here are a few ways brands are helping – and ideas your brand might be able to build on.
Mental health support: 7500+ businesses turn to employee sentiment tool
These are challenging times. We aren’t just working from home. We are trying to get work done at home during a global pandemic.
The differences are stark. Grief, anxiety, and depression are on the rise.
“Mental health is something that has to be on the minds of companies today because making sure your employees are healthy and that they have what they need is going to be critical to anything before they can be productive,” said SAP co-CEO Jennifer Morgan.
SAP has offered their employee sentiment analysis tool for free to organizations since the onset of the pandemic, and have had more than 7,500 jump on board.
A virtual world shift is challenging for managers, leadership, and HR to adjust to quickly – especially as they try to help employees navigate the changing waters. A tool like this puts more power in their hands.
Physical health assessment
Or, you see organizations like Ro offering free tele-health assessment services for, well, anyone.
“The free assessment tool is the right thing to do, and that’s a sensible way to be able to talk to people about it, because diagnosis is a key part in helping to curb this,” says Alexis Ohanian, investor, Reddit cofounder, and Ro board member. “If we aren’t doing that well, we’re all worse off for much longer.”
Protecting essential service workers and customers
The popular grocery chain, HEB, based in Texas is a cult favorite. The organization is known for its ability and willingness to help in disasters of all kinds, and this pandemic has been no different.
Their stores remain open across the state, with stickers on the floor demarking 6 feet apart measurements so customers can social distance while getting necessary supplies. They also have plastic barriers between cask register clerks and customers, provide hand wipes to every customer who walks in, and has hand sanitizer stationed throughout the store.
But, HEB is doing much more. They have:
- Donated more than 75,000 meals to healthcare workers across the state.
- Expanded their delivery services particularly for seniors to get food delivery across Texas.
- Worked with local restaurant chains to sell their pre-made meals in the grocery store to help keep these businesses alive.
“We have been working on our pandemic and influenza plan for quite a while now, since 2005, when we had the threat of H5N1 overseas in China. That’s when we first developed what our plan looked like, [as well as] some of our requirements and business implications,” Justen Noakes, director of emergency preparedness, HEB told Texas Monthly.
“In 2009, we actually used that plan in response to H1N1, when the swine flu came to fruition in Cibolo, and refined it, made it more of an influenza plan. We’ve continued to revise it, and it’s been a part of our preparedness plan at H-E-B ever since.”
Helping provide for our last line of defenders
There is one group of people our culture doesn’t often talk about, but who serve an incredibly important role: Funeral Directors.
Funeral homes right now are our last line of defense against COVID-19. These organizations help us to honor your loved ones, but they also handle bodies and bodily fluid, and we don’t know yet how long the virus stays with the deceased.
These organizations, too, need PPE supplies as well as additional hands on help. Organizations like the National Funeral Directors Association are asking state governments to allow funeral directors to quickly access various state licenses so directors from texas might be able to go to New York or New Jersey to help out.
Others are forming a coalition, like Eterneva, CANA (Cremation Association of North America), and the Funeral Service Foundation to raise $200,000 for 50,000 N95 masks to go to directors most in need to protect them, their staff and their families while they provide critical services.
What matters to businesses tomorrow: Doing good today
Businesses around the world are changing how they function in order to help out. After all, organizations are made up of people – all of whom are experiencing this challenging time. We might not be able to shake hands or hug right now. But we can inspire one another, and help to end this pandemic.
What businesses do now to help will shape what the future of our world and our societies looks like. It will shape, too, which businesses make it to the other side – and set a new standard for how organizations can help in times of crisis.