How can businesses adapt during the coronavirus?
Updated: Mar 23
Finding a rhythm
It’s funny how life changed so significantly in just a few short weeks. At the start of 2020 would anyone really believe the world could look so different - most public places and gatherings shut, flights grounded, shelves bare and the number one essential item for panicked shoppers to be toilet roll!
Life for us at Sharp Thinking has been busy, and hectic, but the pace has changed. No longer are we racing from one meeting to another, and for millions of us, we're no longer spending hours a week commuting, constantly rushing, always late. We're eating together and playing games together as a family and we’re all having to think on our feet and be creative.
As humans we are resilient, we adapt, and we find new ways of doing things – helped by the technical, highly connected age in which we live. Video conferencing has come into its own and online communities have become a lifeline for many.
This ability to adapt and to change has been seen in businesses in all different walks of life. Budding entrepreneurs who previously lacked the time and headspace to bring their seedling ideas to fruition have been given the perfect opportunity.
Businesses are thinking outside the box and changing the way they do things. So many have offered new services and developed new ways to reach their customers and even attract new ones. Everywhere you look there are examples of businesses that have pushed boundaries and now work differently to keep connected with their customers.
What stands out to us at Sharp Thinking are the inspiring and heart-warming examples of businesses converting their business or changing their focus to help the relief effort. There are so many examples from internationally to locally. And it is humbling and inspiring to witness.
So many of the big brands have done their bit too. Burberry repurposed its Yorkshire trench coat factory to make non-surgical gowns and masks for patients. Furthermore, so many have used their global supply chain to fast track delivery of PPE for NHS workers.
Leon, the restaurant chain was the mastermind behind ‘FeedNHS’. What started off as a few branches being kept open to help feed NHS staff and key workers, brought together other restaurants, food distributors and suppliers to deliver free daily hot meals to critical care staff. FeedNHS delivered 5,600 meals a day to 5 major London hospitals. As Leon ramped up its support of the NHS, the team realised there was another side of the foodservice equation in need of help – food growers and producers. Feed Britain was then born. This allowed us to buy online grocery boxes of fruit, veg, dairy and meals and with all profits donated to the NHS.
McCarthy & Stone, the biggest builder of retirement properties in the UK, offered over 300 newly completed apartments in unoccupied developments to house older people recovering from Covid-19 or NHS key workers.
Locally in Kent, we saw Salomans Estate become a Care Hotel for Hilton Nursing Partners and the NHS.
And let’s also not forget the daily PE sessions with Joe Wicks, providing much needed structure and exercise for us all. This has been a huge hit around the world and raised considerable revenue which has all been donated back to the NHS.
Generation Z have also played their vital part with coronavirustutoring as just one example of brilliant innovation. University students offered free online tutoring to pre GCSE and A-Level students to ensure those that can’t afford to access private tuition, could still get valuable support.
How businesses have behaved both to their customers and their staff over the last year will have a long-lasting impact on how they're perceived. It goes without saying that these examples of corporate philanthropy will reflect well on these brands now and in the future.
Doing our best
This period of time is a huge challenge for all of us, but it will pass. And just as the planet has done, business will regenerate and thrive again. There is no doubt there will be still be hard times ahead. But we must try to have faith, be flexible and adaptable.
We can all play our part. Let's push boundaries and find new ways of doing things. Whether that’s in our own homes, in our local community or running a business. And who knows what may be possible. Most importantly we must be kind to ourselves and each other and appreciate we're all functioning in a different way and that we're doing our best.