During the first weeks of lockdown, myself, together with a lot of talented writers, novelists, poets and spoken word performers presented ‘Words From A Distance’ - a virtual festival of the spoken word. Many surprised themselves, even more, enjoyed themselves, and we managed to raise some money for NHS Charities Together, along the way.
That in itself was a great result, but for me, the 'legacy' of the project was learning to navigate working totally at a distance. Even as creative techies, total lockdown made me and others dig deep to come up with innovative ways to share information and ideas, co-ordinate contributions, curate the festival and respond to publicity requests.
Every step involved a familiar activity having to be achieved in a slightly different way to the then, normal. And I know this project is just one example of the journeys of digital discovery that have been taken by many people and businesses throughout the land.
But as we lurch falteringly out of lockdown, back towards a life resembling what we’ve always known, some things will drop away while others will be here to stay.
We've done the hard part.
We've done the hard part, scaling near-vertical digital learning curves for many people working across many sectors. Working virtually is cheaper, greener, more flexible, more productive and here’s the real crux of the matter, far more efficient.
For businesses that have adapted their physical products and services to an online offering, again, necessity has been the mother of invention. This has forced the breakthrough for many businesses that were reluctant to embrace the online world in the past.
The downside of all this (apart from the tumbleweed riddled High Streets and Business Parks) is that already congested cyberspace has become an even busier, noisier, sharper and flightier place to try and make your mark.
I know a lot of businesses who have used lockdown not only to upskill, digitally, but also in digital marketing terms too. Websites that have had little attention for months if not years are being dusted down and spruced up and not a moment too soon! In digital marketing terms, the quality and relevance of content is everything. There are some scary thoughts about what qualifies a site to be ranked as being frequently updated (it’s at least three times a week if you’re interested?)
There is another catch in that cyberspace is evolving faster than we can keep up with it. Everything is expected to work faster, including the people we want answers from. Most people get jittery if they've not received a reply to an email within 24 hours with the most comfortable timeframe being 4-6 hours, max!
Facebook has a feature that tells users how quickly your company typically responds to messages and converts the time into yet another badge of triumph (or shame) on your profile. Twitter users are even more demanding; you’re expected to respond within the hour!
With more than 3.5 billion active daily users (around 45% of the global population) each estimated to spend an average of 3 hours online, there's no going back!
Remote working and virtual living have taken on new meaning and significance in the pandemic. It’s not going to suddenly go away, so don’t just get used to it, embrace it and make it work for you.
Help is out there, and also back here.
There’s an ocean of free help and training from reputable providers including government sources and the likes of the BBC and the Open University, so do your research and carry on in the name of progress.
I can chat for Britain about websites, social media, and digital technology, so get in touch, and if I can't help, I'll point you somewhere useful!
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