For BTI, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was a mixed bag of emotions. Back in March 2020, all we knew was that it was serious and we weren’t allowed to go to the office anymore. Over the following weeks and months, our journey evolved from an agency operating at full capacity, with a revolving door of in-person visitors, meetings, and events, to our calendar being completely clear for the foreseeable future.
While we were promised “2 weeks to flatten the curve” by the government, our industry had to adapt and adapt very quickly. This was the reality for BTI and thousands of businesses in Ontario – new ways of operating had to be accepted, and at an accelerated pace:
Home and Hybrid Models — Accepting remote work as a reality
The initial move to an exclusively online agency was simple in that we already had the technology in place to physically work from home. Getting used to the idea of working from home and understanding the full impact on our work was the longer-term project. While many resisted the working from home model initially, we are at the point now where it must be accepted. We hope that we can return to the office in some capacity soon, but whether we like it or not, a mix of virtual and from-home working is likely to be the future for all non-essential organizations.
Gaps in Projects — Staying focused as client partners hit pause
Like many agencies in Ontario, projects dropped off one after the other in the initial panic of what this pandemic really meant for our economy. Filling the gaps in projects and avoiding layoffs suddenly became our number one priority. While things were slower than we were accustomed to at BTI, we didn’t hesitate to do what we do best – dream up another exciting project, but this time, one just for us. As a result, BTI’s Connected Together was born. The purpose was simple, to provide a communication platform to focus on the positive and motivate people to do great things. This project not only kept us focused, but it also kept us connected, challenged us, and in the end, provided an amazing resource that was enjoyed all across Canada.
Crisis Evolution — Meeting customers where they are
Full-service agencies and other professional services were not the only sectors to feel the pinch from the pandemic. Restaurants, entertainment, travel, wellness spaces, personal care services, and in-person focused shopping experiences all suffered and continue to suffer enormously because of COVID-19. As a result, we have seen some remarkable creativity as these small businesses attempt to make it through to the other side of the pandemic still standing. Some examples include restaurants offering meal and cocktail kits, in-person classes transitioning to online or parking lot classes where allowed, and so much more. The moral of the story being, businesses must adapt to demand by creating new products, offering new services, and meeting their clients where they are in any given phase of the pandemic.
Navigating the COVID-19 situation has not been easy for anyone. We share our story in an effort to inspire and spark conversations with others about the evolution of business in Canada and the different ways we are all experiencing it.
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