Rethinking the new normal for individuals, teams, organizations and systems in the era of pandemics
With COVID-19 being designated a pandemic by the World Health Organization, we are reminded of how transitory our lives are both at home and at work. As such, we are seeing both the private and public sectors leaning into their unique strengths, working vigorously to address this unprecedented public health challenge.
For organizations, this is the beginning of a new normal. A time when agility, adaptability, flexibility and collaboration are critical to business continuity and human health. It is certainly a time to reflect on and adhere to our mission and purpose to guide decisions.
At W2O – “making the world a healthier place through marketing communications” – is at the heart of our purpose. Given the information we know right now, we’re erring on the side of caution and safety for our employees while maintaining expectations for what we deliver to our clients. We’re leveraging technology to make it easier to work virtually with our colleagues and our clients. And we’re making sure people are well informed and kept up to date on the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health authorities.
The goal right now is to flatten the curve, as stated by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. By flattening the curve, fewer people will be infected. All of us in positions of influence, specifically communications, can support the dissemination of data and information that would help achieve this goal, which aligns with our mission. It starts with us.
Our policy at W2O consists of:
- The closing of our U.S. offices effective end of day Friday, March 13, for one week, implementing a work from home model for all staff – operating based on a “long hallway” approach, meaning we work without boundaries or barriers. In a digital world, this is actually a given. Our intention is to reassess each week and determine the right next step. To facilitate all of this, we have rapidly established an internal digital emergency hub and specialized client counsel and solutions task force with tech-enabled tools to support ongoing and up-to-date communications and continued execution of business as this situation continues to evolve.
- All managers are requested to conduct regular communication with their teams including morning and evening check-ins to ensure clarity and information sharing.
- All teams will be engaged with clients as usual, respecting their protocols.
- Knowledge is power and erring on the side of caution is prudent, particularly while more testing and information is being conducted and gathered.
- Compassion and empathy will guide our decisions.
Having spent a good deal of time earlier in my career working in the HIV/AIDS space, I learned the importance of avoiding the temptation to jump to conclusions and taking a fact-based approach. We’re never 100% safe but we’re safer with information. As I often say, leadership is communications.
We will get through this just like with other crises we’ve dealt with, including hurricanes, fires, floods, terrorism and financial market instability. Let’s stay in touch, albeit at a distance, and be disciplined, smart, cautious and focused.
By staying connected, adhering to the guidelines provided, and becoming adept at adapting, we can do our part to flatten the curve.
W2O’s additional COVID-19 coverage