Adapting to a new normal: what this pandemic has taught about our business Written by Edward Hewitt in Misc on May 06,2020 Uh oh…you’ve clicked on a link and you’ve found yourself on another piece of self-aggrandizing and congratulatory content. But, as someone who thinks that they (occasionally) write for a living, it was difficult to update you on our business and product without ever mentioning the elephant in the room. We’ve already covered the basics and let our users know that we are all working remotely and that our services shouldn’t be disrupted by the pandemic — but there’s more to this than just service updates. So, whilst I want to avoid seeming callous in seeing an opportunity for growth and learning out of a situation that has taken hundreds of thousands of lives (and rising), cost millions of people their jobs, and caused untold strife and difficulties; it is impossible to not to see the changes that have occurred in our industry and society and not think about how our business will react to it. What has changed so far We’re lucky. That’s the first point that we have to acknowledge. That isn’t to say that our business has been unaffected, but as a company provides a service that helps companies manage their content online we are in an excellent position to ride out this storm. We will be hit by some waves, but not of the size or magnitude that others will encounter. Like many other companies, we are offering our services for free to those looking to combat the virus. All Covid-19 related websites can receive 1-year plans from us, but we have hesitated when it comes to publicly speaking about this. Much like this article, the fear is that publicizing this fact may come across as opportunistic. Why? I’ve been one of those that has pushed back the most on this. This isn’t my first time working around a virus (and, no, I’m not going to make the easy joke about me using Napster in the early 2000s). In a past life, now long forgotten, I worked in the UN system and worked closely with the CDC, WHO, and other organizations on the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa in 2014. I saw far too many corporations see other’s suffering as a chance to make themselves look good. Rarely did they have any thought or intention to actually do good. Something is better than nothing, but, hopefully, this situation leads to a long-term commitment to good causes. So, here it is. Buried in an article. Many projects have already reached out and are benefitting from the offer, but if you do have a project in mind you should get in touch with us. If you do, you will, as always, get a friendly response from a Prismic team member who will be eager to help you out and point you in the best direction — even if that direction is not Prismic. But if you hop on a call with us, you will notice that the backdrop is not a busy office, but a home. And that brings us to our biggest change. Remote work Up until now, Prismic has not been a remote-friendly company. We have one or two employees who work from home occasionally because of family commitments or commutes, but the general rule is that everyone is in the office every day. That became impossible and we are now going on 2 months of having the entire company working remotely on a daily basis. It has not been without its challenges. Online communication has had to improve, but as a tech-savvy bunch we have been able to adapt. Some people refuse to use Slack threads. We’ve tried Zoom. We’ve tried Hangouts. If we lived close enough to each other we would probably try some tin cans and some string. We’ve tried just about everything and usually end up back where we have started. Some people refuse to use Slack threads. Overall, we’ve managed. It’s not that hard. It doesn’t make us unique. You may even argue that it has brought us into the 21st century. But, it has, without doubt, been our biggest change and challenge so far. Actually, our biggest challenge is probably Slack threads. From a personal point of view I have enjoyed the greater flexibility. I say flexibility. I’m not actually able to leave my home without filling in a form, but I do like the fact that I can work from home. It looks as though some restrictions may be lifted in the coming weeks and we may be able to return to our office at some point in the near future. It also seems that this experience has lead us to believe that we can continue with a more remote-friendly approach and onboard fully-remote team members. I think that’s a positive. Making work more flexible and adaptable to individual needs should always be a positive. If you’ve thought about applying to Prismic before and you’ve been put off by the thought of moving to Paris (I know it sounds awful). Then now is your chance. For Prismic users this might mean that we may eventually be able to offer support in time zones that simply weren’t feasible for us before. It’s something that might benefit everyone. Our employees may find a better work-life balance. We may be able to hire talented people in places that we never would have been able to before. And our community might find a product that is even better cared for. And that would lead me to my final thought about the real positives that I hope come out of this. Change that lasts I have already alluded to the fact that I hope that corporations see their interest in good causes as a long-term commitment rather than a convenient reaction to a problem that they couldn’t ignore. That probably won’t happen, but there are a few other things that I hope hang around. I won’t discuss larger societal issues, there are people far more informed than I am who are better placed to speak about them. Whilst it would undoubtedly improve my credibility to think that my time working with start-ups has entitled me to speak about just about everything, it is clearly high-time that we start listening to experts. Please listen to experts. This pandemic has exposed us to the human side of many of our users. We pride ourself on the fact that we provide personalized onboarding and a level of customer support and response that you don’t get elsewhere, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a different type of conversation. Maybe we can all see ourselves as something more than an item on a budget line going forward. But what I really hope that lasts? Kinder interactions. You may have noticed them on the street, or in a store. People generally seem a bit nicer. I hope that lasts. I’ve seen it on a small level with my own work. When we send out newsletters or communications I normally receive a mass of unsubscribe emails. No, not notifications. People actually ignore the unsubscribe button and instead yell at me. It usually looks something like this: Them: ‘UNSUBSCRIBE` Me: You can unsubscribe from our mailing lists through the link at the bottom of all our emails. Them: ‘JUST UNSUBSCRIBE ME’ Now, more recently, people actually said nice things. That happens sometimes, but I’m rarely thanked for updating them about their CMS. Maybe everyone is just so bored that any piece of content is better than staring at a wall. Maybe everyone that wants to unsubscribe has already done so (or at least figured out that they can just click on the link at the bottom of the email). Maybe it was a better piece of content. Who am I kidding? My articles are always amazing. So, I hope that it lasts. In the meantime, we will still be here making sure that your content is available on your website. If you've read this and you have no idea what Prismic does you should probably rethink your time management, but you can also take a look.