What have you discovered about your colleagues and clients during the last 50 days of the UK lockdown? How has this new information changed the way you feel about them?
I’ll share my findings.
1. I’ve had confirmation that Hayley’s house is as stylish as her personal presentation (enviable wallpaper, intriguing collection of mini plates hanging on the wall).
2. There’s no better ice breaker during a client call than the unexpected appearance of a pet or a child.
And what’s changed as a result? Primarily, this little peep into the “home” window of my colleagues and clients has resulted in me feeling closer and more strongly connected to them.
Who do we thank for this? Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and all the other video call platforms? The great levelling effect of the pandemic? The impact of enduring collective trauma? Or perhaps a heady combination of all these things, which has created a huge blurring of boundaries.
I think the biggest reminder we’ve had is that we are all human. I’m not suggesting that robots have been walking amongst us, other than those food delivery robots in Milton Keynes!
But I wonder whether those erratic, unfathomable days in March, which flipped our lives upside down and inside out, left us craving, on a primitive level, human connection, at the very same moment we were urged to literally step away from one another?
At the heart of all this came a big reminder that it’s not just that the technology that has brought us closer. It’s the fact that as humans, we take comfort from one another. Not because we want to, but because we need to.
What remains when the barriers come down?
In our pre-Covid lives, our society generally revolved around a set of unspoken, but very conventional boundaries. Home life and office life were separated quite neatly. It was very easy to control how you presented your preferred version of your “self”.
This ability to “mould and manufacture” applies to brands just as much as it does to people. Fake. Genuine. Filtered. Natural. Staged. Freestyle. Curated. Organic. This infinite flexibility came at a cost – it became really hard to tell whether something was authentic or not.
How can you trust something when it’s hard to see what really lies beneath all that polish and shine?
The silver lining hiding in plain sight
We’re all looking for silver-linings at the moment, and I think we’ve got one right in front of us at the moment.
The resurgence of authenticity.
This unique situation we’re in is truly awful, but I defy anyone who isn’t searching for positive outcomes. With these boundaries (temporarily) down, there’s a freedom to gain a new level of openness and honesty. If you haven’t done so already, I’d urge you to grab this opportunity. Connect with your colleagues, employees, customers and clients, and grow deeper bonds.
Just keep communicating
Communication is playing a huge role in this pandemic. From a marketing perspective, it’s been quite a journey so far, and there’s a long road ahead. But for now, my advice is to relish the opportunity to be authentic. Don’t worry about letting down some of those barriers, there is far more to gain than there is to lose. Take this golden opportunity to learn more about your customers, colleagues and clients – the better you know them, the better you can serve them.
Do I really have to reveal everything?
One last thing – I know there’s one thing playing on your mind. Yes, you are absolutely allowed to strategically angle your webcam so your dirty dishes/laundry/children/pets/secrets are hidden! Full exposure is never usually a good thing! Have a read of this great article about the “two yous” which can exist while you’re working from home.