Welcome back to another Ask Me Anything, a weekly series where we talk to our friends, our viewers, and our community about all of their pressing needs, questions, wants, and desires.
Let’s take a look at the mailbag to see which questions are burning this week:
As we enter yet another year dominated by COVID-19, here in New England it seems people have lost their appetite for following health and safety rules. With cases once again on the rise, and no enforceable mandates for business establishments in terms of mandatory masks, vaccination records, or social distancing, it’s impossible for my clients to know who is and isn’t vaccinated. I know people are eager to get back to some semblance of normal, but what’s the best way for businesses to approach this? How are you advising your clients?
Treat COVID Decisions Like a Crisis
I find it fascinating that there is so much disparity from city to city; county to county; state to state. Here in Chicago. You cannot go indoors anywhere without proof of vaccination in and without a mask on your face (covering both your nose and your mouth). We’ve also always had a mask mandate—in fact, people wear them outside here. Of course, it’s also really cold, so that could be part of it. But we’ve always worn masks indoors. And, as of January 3rd, you have to show proof of vaccination to go inside anywhere.
So the fact that other places are not this strict is astonishing. It also makes the client conversations weird, especially depending on where they live, about what to do with this new variant.
Rather than make it about what we believe as individuals, we treat it like a crisis. In December, we spent nearly the entire two weeks before Christmas doing scenario planning to figure out risks versus rewards.
Because of that work, and because of how we positioned it (crisis versus politics or personal beliefs), most of our clients canceled all business travel for January and anyone who was planning a return to the office has postponed it (again).
We’ve seen all of the big companies do this, too—Apple, Google, Amazon…they’re all staying remote for the time being.
And, because Omicron is so contagious, almost everyone has decided the liability of having their teams together in person or putting them on the road is not worth the potential reward.
We all definitely want to get back to some sort of normalcy, but our job as communicators is to make sure we help our clients or executives look at everything through a crisis lens. Take out the polarization and the politicalness and make it about crisis planning. Do scenario planning. Write out all of the risks and the cons—and then compare them to the rewards and pros.
If you all get to a position that the pros outweigh the cons, so be it. But if they don’t, just like in any other crisis planning, our job is to help communicate the decision.
I think we can all agree it sucks that we’re still here two years later, but it’s our job to stay on top of what’s happening in the world so we can protect our organizations and the people inside them.
Have a Question?
And, if there is a topic you’d like us to cover, industry trends you’ve heard about but don’t understand, or a question you are embarrassed to ask but know we will be happy to answer let us know!
You can also stop by my house with a bottle of wine, but we can’t sit out on the porch and drink. It’s too cold. You’ll have to wait for that part until spring.