Crisis and Chance

INFLUENCER: Serviceplan China's Chong Kin on what businesses can learn from the Covid-19 pandemic

It was a totally a new experience for most of the ad people in China over the last two months. Since the Chinese New Year holiday, everyone here had to follow the policy given by Chinese authorities, which was to quarantine themselves at home, and keep social distance. It was not easy for anyone to be in this situation.

Consequently, from 23rd January to 10th February, you seldom saw a car running on roads, excluding some motorcycling couriers. Beijing was practically empty. Despite the macro-environment, our colleagues were keeping their own personal engines on, working inside their homes, during which was a busier CNY than ever before.

Some of our ambitious clients, including Lotus, Geely Lynk & Co, 999 and TMall, had already taken the lead to work online from mid CNY holiday. At the same time, we had to roll up our sleeves to invent and try a new model of working from home, brainstorming and presenting through online apps. After we tried different online meeting apps, now I can confidently tell you which one is the best among Zoom, Dingtalk and Polycom - as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

During the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus around all provinces, business of e-commerce platforms like JD.com and Freshippo have grown rapidly and the growth is still continuing. There are always two sides of a coin. When there is a crisis, there is a chance - a chance to assist, a chance to learn something brand new, a chance to modify our business style and a chance to reform our teams. 

Our Serviceplan Beijing office and Serviceplan Shanghai office partly reopened on 7th February, however most of our colleagues still had to work from home. To keep our business running, we had to set guidelines for working from home. For instance, 9:30AM was briefing session, 3:00PM was brainstorming and 9:00PM was for review or rehearsal, with these new rules to be followed strictly. Working at home and taking care of family simultaneously was the normal situation most of the Chinese were trying to manage. Honestly, when working from home it is undoubtedly easy to be distracted. However, it seems to be a challenging test for self-discipline and time management.

Fortunately, by following these new guidelines, our teams have finished five different new business pitches within these two months and some of them are running positive. We are expecting our clients’ final announcement. Fingers crossed.

On 2nd March, both of our offices officially fully reopened. It is extremely sad to see that many other countries are also suffering the Covid-19 virus outbreak. It is a challenging time for everyone but we can stay safe by doing our best to protect our families and at the same time build business. Give a pen, a piece of paper, a notebook and a network to the creative people, and they can create something to change the world. 

Let’s fight and turn the crisis into chances.

Chong Kin is chief creative officer, Greater China at Serviceplan Group