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Rising to the Challenge

2020 was the year without end, but somehow we’re already halfway through the next one. 

As the financial year comes to a close and we continue to exist in a liminal space between hard lockdowns and a return to normal, it’s a time to pause. To evaluate if we took last year’s lessons on board. Has your company changed for the better? Or is it still stuck in old habits, despite a whole year of disruption?

Mental Health

In 2020, calls to mental health hotlines ticked up by 40% in Victoria. Our collective mental health took a dip (in particular, for women and the youth). And this isn’t going to just bounce back. To quote others, vaccination is “the end of the beginning”. 

What has your workplace done to help with this situation? Is there an open conversation? A clear line of support for employees who need help? A change in flexibility or resources? And outside of the office, has your company’s mission, message or initiatives changed to reflect an audience who’s experienced a collective trauma? Has it reinterpreted its services? 

Often, those who need help don’t speak up; proactivity is the responsibility of those in power.

Staying Home

With lockdowns and dips in travel, the radiuses around our homes have taken on more meaning: from convenience to our whole universe.

Has your company acknowledged this, in how they target audiences? In the services and products it offers? What we do and where we do it changed in the last year. Our communities became more local, and our habits became centered on “home”. Has your company’s habits changed as well? 

Where and When 

We’re working from home offices more now than ever. We’re also working more. With at-home offices, we’ve learned that logging off and on is blurrier. But some Managers still don’t trust their staff – they want them back in the office five days per week. For them, disruption has been an inconvenience: not an opportunity to explore possibilities. 

How does your work-life symmetry and satisfaction compare to life before COVID? Are you working remotely or working flexibly? Ideally, the answer would be both.

Blending work and home life together means it’s easier to get sidetracked, helping kids with homework or doing housework. With flexibility, not only do we choose “where” we work: we choose “when” it’s best for us.

Has your company shifted its policies, post its initial transition to remote work in early 2020?  Does it still make you feel recognised? Part of a culture? Has it introduced new tools to run things smoother? Explored new workflows? How?

We’re in the wild west of remote and flexible working. Companies should still be striving to explore what works best, learning how to merge the office’s benefits with remote work’s promise. 2020 should have been the beginning, not the standard. 

Branding and Purpose

COVID wasn’t the only upheaval in 2020. There were bushfires. There were protests. The pressure of aligning with social causes was (and is) higher than ever – globally. 

This means better conditions for workers inside companies. And it means altruism on the outside: messages that mean something more than the bottom line.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” (Simon Sinek) Does your company have a purpose beyond profit? Did this shift after last year? Has there been a push towards empathy? If not, why? 

Now, more than ever, is the time to ask more of your employer.

Online Shopping

We all visited fewer brick-and-mortar stores in the last year. We’ll likely continue to do so.

Take the weekly shop: last year, more consumers were introduced to buying groceries online. Many won’t go back

e-Commerce, in general, was forced into a huge period of growth. But has your online presence updated? It’s time to adapt or be left behind!

Has your workplace explored new tools to capture a content-saturated audience? Has it reinterpreted older tools? In today’s e-commerce market, influencers have more meaning and can influence your user experience, purchase and brand loyalty. When everything is digital, the online experience needs to be just that: an experience. 

Now that we’re quickly approaching the end of the financial year, it’s a great time to take stock of what’s still working and what needs to give way.

Data Privacy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in Ad Land, you’ll know that the cookie has crumbled. Third-party cookies are going, but concern over data isn’t. 

COVID isn’t responsible for this, but it has been a data focal point via contact tracing. With the entire world changing, it’s a good moment to examine our own company’s policies. How does it use data? What does it use it for? And is it contributing to a greater good? Consumers care.

The Environment

Last year’s pause on emissions was exciting. But it wasn’t the answer. Moving towards 2050, we have to examine our employer’s impact: while COVID forced emissions down, single-use plastic went up because of hygiene concerns. 

To reach the goals we need to keep global warming under wraps, companies have a huge portion of the responsibility in taking action. Did yours form worse habits during COVID? Better? 

Even if your company isn’t responsible for producing waste, does it support others who are? Consumers want companies to align with values, and the environment is on the top of that list

As we get closer to a post-COVID world, we also get farther away from our old lives. While many things will return to normal, some changes are here to stay. Halfway through this year, it’s a great time to pause and consider what those differences are, how we’ve responded to them and how we can keep taking on 2020’s lessons into the future. 


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