The home is the hub
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - August 2, 2020 - 12:00am

After the virtual applause, after the long list of questions from the chatbox were answered, after the reading of the virtual plaque or certificate is over, I would look at the camera, smile, and say my final words of the webinar: “Ok. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for having me. Have a blessed day and don’t go anywhere!” And they would always laugh.

What the lockdown has done is to train all of us to stay home longer. One person says: “The more I work from home and stay home, the more “homeless” I find my appearance. Unshaven, messy hair. Sweat pants and the same pair of clothes that have not been washed and laundered for days.” Imagine the implication on the sales of toiletries like deodorant, cologne, etc. and not to mention shoes, clothes, and formal wear. The longer the virus stays and spikes, the longer the people will stay at home.

Working from home will not become the norm, it already is, and we may want to learn how to do it more effectively. There is no place like home, even when the office is there too. Ever since the lockdown in March, I have not had a single invitation to speak or do training in person, but I have received many inquiries and many requests to do the same online.

WFH (work from home) or remote work today will put us in a position to ask delicate but pertinent questions:

1. What is an “office,” and what is its purpose?

2. Who are the people who could produce and deliver work even outside the office?

3. What are the cost-benefits of WFH in terms of productivity?

Would it still be practical that business owners will have to pay additional rent for added office space so they can comply with all the physical distancing rules? Highly unlikely. I read an article wherein a building expert computed the time to board all the regular employees in their company elevators while practicing physical distancing rules. The result was that it would take all of two hours to complete. Would this be practical? I doubt it. According to McKinsey research, “80 percent of people surveyed enjoy working from home. 41 percent say that they are more productive than they had been before and 28 percent that they are as productive. Many employees who are liberated from commutes, traffic, and travel have found more productive ways to spend that time and enjoyed greater flexibility in balancing their personal and professional lives. Many organizations think they can access new pools of talent with fewer locational constraints, adopt innovative processes to boost productivity, create an even stronger culture, and significantly reduce real-estate costs.”

Trust me. WFH is here to stay. And this is why my team led by my daughter-boss Rachel has already invested in a lot of professional equipment like lights, sound systems, cameras, and of course, upgrade of internet plans and providers. COVID-19 has made the home a hub. The home is now THE place where people live, work, learn, shop, and play. Reports show that groceries and household supplies have increased in sales and consumption, at-home entertainment is the only category that remains resilient during the crisis.

Which makes me wonder if marketing people are now taking this into serious consideration? You bet. There are many smart marketing people. They have seen the signs and are capitalizing on it. There was a time when almost all of my invitations would come from HR people. A large number of them still do today. But amazingly, I see an increase in the number of invitations for me coming from marketing chiefs today as they engage me to provide inspirational and business talks for their dealers and distributors. Others organize online activities for prospecting, and on one occasion, I was so impressed as more than 500 people were in the Zoom attendance.

McKinsey and Co. call this “Navigating homebody economy” to integrate the marketing efforts into the proliferating service and products anchored in the home. Home indeed is now the hub, and it will stay this way for a longer time than we would have ever expected.

I am still very productive today. I do Zoom, Belive, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, StreamYard, Cisco Webex with different clienteles, and I am reaching out to a lot more people today than ever. I am having fun and enjoying working from home. When the day comes when quarantine is lifted, I will keep it a secret so others would not know and continue my work from home. Yes. Home is the hub, and there is no place like home.

(Connect with Francis Kong at www.facebook.com/franciskong2. Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 DZFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)

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