2020: Out of Adversity Comes Opportunity
As Big Ben struck midnight and we toasted the new year, businesses held high hopes for 2020. Meanwhile, in China a strange new virus had begun to spread. As one countdown ended, the clock was quietly ticking to the time the world would be brought to a standstill. Fast-forward to March and the coronavirus alarm had awoken businesses to a new normal: lockdowns, supply chain blockages, homeworking and Zoom calls.
‘Business as usual’ has gone out the window this year, but there have been moments of inspiration amongst the uncertainty. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “Out of adversity comes opportunity”. So, rather than dwelling on the negative stuff, we’re celebrating 2020 by highlighting five examples of innovation under pressure – from businesses pivoting to survive to businesses diversifying to help society overcome the pandemic.
Supermarkets across the globe have been swamped by panic-buyers who strip the shelves of essential supplies as they prepare for the latest lockdown. In Australia, for example, this created a lucrative black market in toilet paper of all things – that’s right, loo rolls were being flogged for hundreds of dollars online. Radio stations even ran competitions giving listeners the chance to win packs of 3-ply rolls.
To help address this problem in the UK, Deliveroo – the online restaurant food delivery company – diversified in response to the pandemic. Already experts at delivering your favourite takeaway pizza or curry to your front door, they partnered with grocery giant Marks and Spencer to provide essential goods to households in selected areas – a free service for orders over £10 that aimed to deliver in less than 30 minutes.
The 3D printer revolution has seen them evolve from a cool piece of kit we watch in action on YouTube to a fundamental building block of the 4th industrial revolution – and now they’re a vital cog in the battle against COVID-19.
Formlabs – a 3D printing developer and manufacturer – was determined to address blockages in medical supply chains using their innovative technology.
To achieve this, they worked in partnership with healthcare providers and government agencies around the world to produce PPE and nasal swabs quickly and efficiently.
Many of us had a couple of beers to break the monotony of lockdown – usually during a Zoom quiz as we tried to recall the names of Henry VIII’s wives. The independent brewer BrewDog was able to help us in more ways than one after transforming its distillery amid shortages of hand sanitiser driven by coronavirus fears. This has enabled them to produce “punk sanitiser”, which the company is giving away for free to those that need it. BrewDog’s founder, James Watt announced on social media that: “We are determined to do everything we can to try and help as many people as possible stay safe”.
Cheeky Food Events
As lockdown restrictions gripped society, firms that relied on group gatherings immediately felt the pinch. For companies in the corporate events sphere, the impact was particularly heavy, as office doors were locked, and home working became the new normal. Cheeky Food Events – a corporate team-building provider-oriented around cooking – was one such business that found itself needing to rethink its strategy.
Aware that lockdown was igniting the nation’s interest in cooking, they quickly shifted to offering catering courses to remote workforces via a live webstream. Having delivered ingredients for a two-course gourmet meal to each attendee’s home, they can now deliver team bonding and building activities in a distributed work environment.
Sweet Farm wins the award for the most entertaining pivot during the pandemic. Deprived of paying visitors, the California-based animal sanctuary setup Goat2Meeting: a service that gives companies the opportunity to pay for a goat, llama or other farm animal to make an appearance in their Zoom call – bringing some much-needed fun to the homeworking experience.
Everyone from Fortune 500 companies to tech start-ups have paid for the pleasure of sharing their call with a furry friend. One forward-thinking law firm put a unique twist on ‘bring your child to work day’ by inviting its employees’ kids to a virtual happy hour to meet the animals.
Benjamin Franklin’s words are always at the forefront of our mind at TDM Group, ensuring we are well-placed to tackle adversity head-on as a team. This proactive approach has created opportunities to support our partners through this difficult period and for us to grow as a business – from facilitating their seamless transition to homeworking at scale overnight to fundraising for worthwhile charities.
Our team decided to get in the holiday spirit by supporting Christmas Jumper Day this year – a chance to have some fun by wearing a silly jumper while helping the charity Save the Children. We even invited a furry friend to join our Christmas jumper Zoom gathering courtesy of Goat2Meeting – opportunities like that don’t come along every day.