Yesterday, a State of Emergency was declared in Victoria. These are unique circumstances and interesting times. None of us have lived through a pandemic before, one whose fierce virality means that we’re resorting to plague-era epidemiology.

While we can’t guess exactly what will ensue in the days and weeks to come, one thing is for sure: the coronavirus epidemic will pass. Self-isolation will one day be a story we share with our kids. The challenge is how to keep ourselves, our communities, our businesses and our economy functioning while we negotiate our way through this risk. We can’t afford to throw our hands up in the air and put coronavirus management in the ‘too hard’ basket, ignoring the issue by continuing with our everyday as if nothing is happening. This is a serious issue; we need to collectively take measures to keep ourselves healthy.

Equally, business owners cannot afford to catastrophise and shut up shop. Self-isolation does not mean a stop to productivity, innovation or commerce. In many ways, coronavirus is a kick in the pants to businesses that are relying on old-world methodologies. This pandemic will prove that working remotely is no true barrier to deliverables, culture or client satisfaction. I hope it will put a stop to the bullshit rationale that encourages women and disabled people to swap role flexibility for crap wages, as if their physical presence is the most important aspect of their contribution.

Those businesses who have failed to embrace flexibility, remote work, and technologies that enhance team collaboration while away from a communal workspace (such as Slack, Asana, Trello, Skype, Zoom etc.) will have a very tough time during the coronavirus pandemic. There will be no systems or practices in place, no decisions made, no training done. Those service-based businesses who have been nimble and open to change have a headstart when it comes to maintaining profitability and culture. Fortunately, Ruby Assembly are well-equipped to work remotely. We will be self-isolating as a team – at a minimum – for two weeks. In some cases, our client meetings will take place over Skype, or they’ll be postponed for a month or so. We’re also postponing workshops for the time being; I’ve tentatively put a circle around late May for rescheduling.

Collectively, it’s clear that businesses will have more time on their hands. This is an ideal time to tackle items – particularly around communication – that may have been left in the ‘too complex’ basket. For many service-based businesses (brokers, lawyers, estate agents, accountants, developers, franchise owners and trades), social media marketing has been neglected. Excuses I regularly hear for a lack of social media presence, or a poverty of quality material are:

  • “We don’t get any business from social media, ours is all referral.”
  • “Our customers don’t use social media, they are all older?”
  • “There’s no ROI on social media so I don’t do it. I like to letterbox drop instead.”
  • “The bosses’ brother/wife/girlfriend does it when he/she has time.”

These reasons for not prioritising customer communication – which is in truth customer care – are not robust. They all fail at the slightest interrogation. They rely on old ways of doing business, on the purely transactional. If coronavirus is here to teach us anything, it’s that the old ways are over. Of chaining people to desks, of being opaque in our dealings, of workplace discrimination, of failing to share open-handedly with our clients, of relentless egocentrism. The time for caring, communication and transparency are here. Social media is a space in which your business can show positive leadership at this time, which is why I’ve prepared a short video – Coronavirus and Your Business – that will give you concrete steps to take in the coming weeks in an effort to change things up.

There remain many reasons to smile during this coronavirus pandemic. Please know that you’re doing well. Keep going and keep looking outward with the help of these hopeful links.