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Adapting with Optimism

by Amber Yoder

By all accounts, 2020 has been a disruptive year – to say the least. It’s easy to see the glass as half empty. But, as with any moment of significant change, there can be good mixed in with the bad.

So – what is there to celebrate about 2020 so far? What we can learn from and carry forward as positive, lasting change in the right direction?

Hiker conducted an informal, anonymous survey of marketers, creatives, and nonprofits to uncover changes in these sectors that they’re excited to see last beyond 2020. Here are just a few of the positive adaptations emerging from this extraordinary year.

Ability to work from home

If there’s one positive thing to come out of 2020, increased ability to work from home is at the top of the list. Working from home has also led many companies to embrace new technologies. Companies and orgs that were reluctant to adapt to video platforms and teleconferencing have quickly jumped aboard.

We are a national ministry and COVID has made it easier for people to accept working on a video platform.

As another survey respondent points out, working from home can also lead to increased honesty and vulnerability among colleagues. With our families and homes literally being more visible in our work world, it can lead to more open acknowledgment of family needs. So, don’t apologize for your crying child, we understand.

Expanded virtual events

There has been so much innovation and exploration around events in 2020, it’s hard to believe we won’t carry some of this innovation forward. From asynchronous event scheduling, to easier access to celebrities, and multi-screen engagement elements, we’re learning what it means to have events without a physical space.

Virtual conferences in many ways are better than traditional gatherings. They’re less expensive, they impact the environment less, they allow for a stronger work/life balance.

Another thing our respondents look forward to? More unique gift boxes and swag bags. Yes please!

Greater focus on race and class

The events of 2020 have thrown race and equity into the spotlight – and that’s a good thing. There’s a push to elevate black and brown voices in the media, and a renewed examination of internal biases in corporate hiring practices. Though these may be uncomfortable conversations to have, they’re necessary to build a better, more equitable world. Let’s mark 2020 as the year we do the work and carry it forward.

Meaningful corporate social change

One of our survey respondents is excited to see “a shifting priority from ads to meaningful comms programs.” This can be seen everywhere in 2020 marketing – from big brands to small startups. So many brands are using their platforms and voice to not just sell, but to take a stand on values. When done right, brand activism and corporate social change can have a real impact. Let’s keep this momentum going.

Online learning and blended education

2020 was the year that the world took a crash course in online learning. Distance learning presents so many opportunities to innovate and improve how we approach education. Looking towards the fall, many universities are leaning in to blended education – which combines online learning with place-based classrooms.

Online and blended learning are here to stay. We’ve got a lot to solve, but there’s a lot of innovation happening in education right now.

Direct to consumer services and options

From curbside pickups and take-out booze, to feature films premiering on the small screen – everything is going direct. There’s been a surge in apps and startups that cater to the demand for DTC products and services. The convenience and safety of having products and services delivered is something that many consumers will probably hold on to well beyond 2020.

Increased access to telehealth options

Before the pandemic, getting access to telehealth could be very difficult for many patients. But now, the options for telehealth are greatly increased and access to these options continues to expand. We hope this trend in telehealth sticks around beyond 2020. The benefits of telehealth are especially important for senior citizens, or others who are vulnerable to infection. As one survey respondent put it:

I’m thrilled that the pandemic has brought more seniors into video conferencing. It’s safer, easier, and super intimate.

Greater focus on sustainability

Shortages in paper products have made many consumers painfully aware of their own wasteful habits. We’ve seen a renewed interest in sustainability this year – the surge in “victory gardens” is just one trend that will likely last longer than a season. Companies are thinking more about their supply chains, with a greater focus on local, sustainable production.

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