When we first started hearing about Covid-19 on our televisions, Twitter feeds and computer screens, who could have anticipated the last 18 months that we’ve had?
There’s no doubt that coronavirus has been a terrible event in society. I’ve seen firsthand the impact it has had on businesses of all sectors. People have lost loved ones far too soon. And we’ve all had to quite drastically reflect on our lives and what’s important to us - at work and at home.
We cannot change what’s happened. But we can try and learn and grow from this shared experience. It’s not my intention to invalidate anyones’ negative experiences, but I would like to spend some time reflecting on the good things that have come out of coronavirus for our industry, and shed some light on the positives rather than the constant barrage of negativity we’re seeing in the news.
So here are, in my view, some of the positives to come out of the coronavirus pandemic - for market research as an industry and for us all individually, too.
1. It’s allowed us to work in a more flexible way
Before coronavirus, remote working was something that a lot of businesses offered, but not many actually implemented. After all, if you’re paying for an office it makes sense to have most of your staff in a place where they can easily speak to each other - though occasionally people can work from home.
So when the pandemic hit, we went from occasional home working (which is great for mental health and for juggling things like family life) to working entirely remotely.
This is something that a lot of market research companies probably couldn’t have fathomed pre-pandemic. To go from having staff and offices one second, to not being allowed to leave your house except for essential journeys the next.
I really feel like this tested a lot of businesses and their ability to be reactive and adapt to a situation that none of us could have imagined. At Omnisis, we’re lucky that each of us can do the entirety of our jobs online, so as a business we were somewhat unaffected - though of course, it took some time to get used to.
As a business owner, it gave me a unique opportunity to look at our business structure and see what’s working and what we need to do to improve the way we work. Realistically, I realised that everyone can work from home and the cogs will keep on turning.
Although you’ll never be able to beat a nice cuppa and a conversation in person, things like Slack and Zoom make remote working so easy. Even now that the future of office work has changed irrevocably, I feel confident knowing that the team can handle whatever is thrown at them - even a global pandemic.
2. It helped us to gain perspective
I don’t know about you but before the pandemic, I felt constantly overwhelmed with the sheer volume of “things to do” - both at work and in my personal life, too. The never-ending to-do list of life was something I had resigned myself to, despite the constant anxiety it gave me and feelings that I could always “do more”.
I hate to use the phrase “uncertain times” but when the pandemic first hit, that’s exactly what it was. Nobody knew what the future would hold - and even now we still don’t. But that brought with it a certain sense of calm - we cannot predict the future, so why try to? All we could do was live in and appreciate the present and hope things will improve in time.
Though living and working through a pandemic has brought with it its own challenges, one thing I can say is that it’s helped me to slow down and gather some well-needed perspective on things.
When millions of people are losing jobs, loved ones, and businesses it helps you to appreciate what’s really important in life. Since this all started, I’ve made quite a big change and moved to the countryside.
Coronavirus helped to give me a new perspective, appreciate the little things, and take a step back from the hectic life I was leading prior to the pandemic. I’m sure that many of us can relate to this.
3. It’s forced our industry to be agile
For many market researchers, a huge part of what they do requires meeting people in person for research, interviews, and focus groups. However, coronavirus made this kind of work grind to a literal standstill.
As a result, the industry had to respond and come up with agile solutions - such as how do you turn engaging, in-person research digital without losing its power?
One great example of this is some work we did with market research agency One Minute To Midnight. For years, they had been doing something called their “values game” in face-to-face research for commercial insight.
The game consists of ten simple cards. Each card has a statement, imagery and crucially, it represents a human value. Participants have chips that they can ‘spend’ on their top values.
Having physical cards is a really key part of this as participants enjoy the fun, interactive element of a game and they are also a physical reminder to use the framework and language throughout the interview.
The agency wanted a way to bring the values game online in an interactive, engaging way so we worked with them to create an engaging online game that reflected the look, feel and personality of their brand.
Coronavirus forced thousands of market researchers and agencies to come up with creative solutions for their clients that we probably wouldn’t have considered before. I personally see this as a big “win” for the market research industry and a testament to the hard work of its employees. As an industry, we faced incredibly tough times. But we have worked together to grow and prosper and that’s really what matters.
So there we have it, my top three positive outcomes thanks to Covid-19. Have I missed anything out? If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the pandemic has affected all of us in a totally unique way. I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below.
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