Reasons to be cheerful: Jack Mason, CEO, Laundrapp

As the coronavirus pandemic has quickly become the new normal, NDA wants to celebrate the positives of our current situation.

We spoke to Jack Mason, CEO at Laundrapp to find out what was keeping him cheerful.

What, if any, positive long-term impact on the digital industry will coronavirus have?

Digital-based businesses were early adopters of remote working and social collaboration tools, so we have found it easier than most to shift into lockdown working – some people wouldn’t really notice a difference.

All businesses will now be looking to the digital industry for guidance on how to run a modern office or workplace. The innovation period for digital transformation has been massively truncated. What may have previously been a five-year plan has had to be implemented in a matter of weeks or risk going under.

A massive innovation chain has been kick-started and digital businesses are perfectly positioned to make the most of this through showcasing their own best practice and understanding and implementing necessary change across everything from communication to customer experience to distribution and marketing.

The digital industry has thrived since lockdown, and now I feel other non-digital companies will think: ‘how can my company operate like them?’

What positive impacts on long term consumer behaviour shifts will it have?

People’s lives have physically shrunk and yet at the same time the world is digitally at their fingertips.

Deprived of their high street shopping fixes, people have been turning to online retail in a bid to have an affordable bit of luxury. Doorstep delight is the new retail experience and this will revolutionise customer expectations from packaging to product to delivery.

D2C will continue to be big news and slapdash deliveries which take an unspecified amount of time will become extinct.

People have also rediscovered the importance of local, so national retailers and brands will need to tap into the importance of local messaging for national brands. Data-driven insight will help them tailor their goods and services to better meet customers’ demands.

And health and wellness will continue to be growing areas of consumer focus as people look to protect their health in the future or get back to pre-lockdown fitness.

What positive impacts have you seen on how your business operates?

As a fledgling business, we have been cementing our values and team spirit but being forced into lockdown has rapidly accelerated the process.

We have fast-tracked to seamless companywide collaboration and people who didn’t know each other just a few months ago are jumping on a Zoom and helping each other out as if they had been working together for years.

Previously we didn’t have a formal regular centralised team meeting, it didn’t feel necessary, but now the morning team Zoom is an essential part of the day for sharing information and for engendering an ‘all in it together’ ethos.

I’m sure we’ll be keeping it as a permanent fixture.

Inc&Co is also in a sweet spot of having digital businesses and a property portfolio, so we are working on how we reimagine the workplace of the future. So many businesses can now see that they don’t need the big expensive skyscrapers in the heart of London and that there are flexible, digitally-enabled alternatives.

What have you been most heartened about in how your staff, partners, customers or clients have reacted to the new normal?

I am very humbled to say that we have all given up a bit of our private life to make this business work during the pandemic. We now have a window into the lives of our teams through the webcam. More important than location, you get pets, partners or delivery drivers on camera, as well as kids ‘trying to help’!

The curtain has dropped on workplace facades because we all must make the best we can of the situation and it’s actually been really nice getting to know people holistically and not just as colleagues.

Everyone is recognising that we must be flexible and is willingly going the extra mile. Doing the right thing now will be good for us all in the future.

What technologies have you been most impressed with during this new situation?

Of course, Zoom and Slack have absolutely come into their own, but I’ve been resorting to the ‘old school’ technology of my mobile phone. I’ve found that sometimes I start to type a message on Slack and think, actually, let me call them on their phone.

People are craving human interaction and speaking rather than typing allows a much more personal and nuanced conversation. You can riff off each other’s ideas and get to far more elegant solutions than you can through endless email chains, Slack threads and schedules Zoom calls.

Which is why you may see a rise in more audio-based social chat apps like Clubhouse – that lets you listen in to groups of co-workers chatting on a topic in a bid to recapture some of the IRL spontaneity.

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