There is no question that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years in recent memory. From COVID-19, learning how to work from home, a slow economy, and a contentious election, businesses had to deal with issues never seen before. Many companies have adapted at record speed to meet the challenging and changing needs of their customers and clients.
I’ve been intrigued as to what the next few years of business will hold for us. What have we collectively learned and what can we take away from this experience? Following are a few items for consideration:
Humans are resilient.
When our office began working from home based on our Governor’s Directive in March of 2020, I did not believe we would be able to adapt. Sure, it wasn’t all pretty and we had to overcome a few technology and communication challenges, but for the most part, our staff didn’t miss a beat. We were able to collaborate with our clients and truly create some beautiful design work. While we missed seeing each other, we adapted quickly to video technology, chatting and more phone calls. We were able to remain creative and keep our deadlines.
New times require new approaches.
One of the first things we did as a company following the Stay Home Order was discuss how we could provide value to our clients. Our clients were struggling with the same issues we were and many were unsure if and how to re-open their institutions. We decided to put together a webinar series which evolved to a Fireside Chat series in which we invited panelists which includes clients and friends to discuss pertinent topics. The series really took off and our attendees and panelists alike say they enjoy the series and have received value. It gave us an opportunity to continue to build brand awareness and connect with our clients in a helpful and meaningful way.
Social connections still matter.
One of the most difficult parts of dealing with the current pandemic is having less social interactions with colleagues. At our firm, we have noticed that the social connections that bind us together as an office have been the thing we miss most. We excel at getting the work done, but we long for days talking around the coffee machine, chance encounters in the break area, and the moments of spontaneity that just occur when people are together. Without those opportunities, it feels that creativity is a bit stifled and the office doesn’t seem complete. As humans, we need those social bonds.
Culture is critical.
Any workplace is only as good as its culture and how that culture embodies the values of the company. That is more true than ever today, although many of the things firms do to demonstrate and build their culture have been challenged during the pandemic. Even though your team is separated, look for ways to keep them connected to maintain the firm culture. It may take some creativity to get people to participate fully but the results will be worth it.
Experiences will define the next wave of the economy.
Experiences are more important than ever. A recent conversation with author B. Joseph Pine, who wrote the seminal work, “The Experience Economy,” reminds us that without The Experience Economy, we won’t have any economy at all. Even amid the pandemic, clients and customers seek more than just goods and services. They seek experiences. And as we emerge from COVID, the demand for experiences will be even greater. In fact, it will take great experiences to draw people from their homes.
The roller coaster ride of 2020 has changed us forever. The question is, where can we apply the lessons learned?
Craig S. Galati is a Principal and Shareholder of LGA. His strength lies in helping his team create memorable experiences through design. Through his passion for workshop facilitation and public outreach, Craig has provided invaluable clarity and direction to multiple public and private organizations. Craig is an accomplished speaker and has worked with many organizations on leadership and strategy.