Working During Covid-19: Physical Distancing and Social Connection
We are all consumed in this current world of “social distancing”. But many out there have suggested we stop using this term. We of course must practice “physical distancing”, but we need to be as socially connected as ever not just in our personal lives, but also to continue to drive our businesses forward.
Like much of the rest of the world out there, we have been hunkered down in the past weeks, continuing to build our business day by day. We are a start-up in the 3D printing world. Version 1 of our technology is done, tested and has deployed to over 40 customers around the world. We opened our offices in Boston and Tokyo at the end of last year and launched our new website on February 11th. Just in time for the global pandemic.
We have an office in Shenzhen, China, so our global teams had a preview of what was coming. Our team in China shut down in late January (during Chinese New Year) and returned to work in full by early March. Our Boston and UK teams have been working from home since mid-March. Collectively, we have been able to support our existing customers and ship to new customers. We transitioned from a traditional marketing and sales mix which often includes a lot of face to face with prospects either at their office site or at conferences and trade shows. That has now all shifted online. A step in almost all sales processes for BMF is that the prospect would like to see their part printed on our systems, to be able to judge quality and fitness for use. That has proceeded unaffected. We get digital files. We print them in one of our locations and we are then mailing to the prospects’ home offices. We then pick up the phone and talk. Imagine that.
The coming months will be at best bumpy as industries return to work. Some will be badly hurt by the downturn. Some may even thrive as new priorities and market demand is created. Others will be largely unaffected. But if we are going to be successful as a new company we will need to be able to manage ourselves and be a team as we are physically distant and we will need to build social relationships with our customers in ways that we never did before. I expect we are not alone.