One of the silver linings of being CEO of The Chamber during a pandemic is having a front-row seat to innovation. The conversations I’ve had with hundreds of businesses over the past year have been amazing.
You can hear many of these great stories for yourself as part of our Chamber Chat vodcasts. We have an entire series on Pivot Pilots — businesses that found ways to be successful by adapting to new rules and behaviours.
We also talk about the Recovery Runway — it’s a positive visual that expresses where our economy is at as we near the end of the pandemic. Our economy will takeoff as restrictions ease and people regain confidence to get out and celebrate their lives in public.
Here are a few highlights from what I’ve learned from my conversation with Pivot Pilots.
• Small retail outlets that were able to quickly shift to appointment shopping have been successful. The unexpected benefits include no lineups of customers waiting for service, and a more engaged shopping experience as clients come in looking to make a purchase.
• Many retail operations ramped up their online presence and, by offering to deliver products, most businesses were able to stay competitive against established digital goliaths such as Amazon.
• Some businesses were so successful with their adaptions that they actually expanded. Furniture and home décor outlets were popular as they catered to people working from home and spending more time around the house. Many restaurants expanded take-out and delivery models. Some, such as Big Wheel Burger, even opened new locations to meet demand.
• Early in the pandemic, Starfish Medical switched its focus at the request of the federal government, helping with a made-in-Canada solution to supply 7,000 ventilators.
• Camosun Innovation Centre developed capacity to manufacture custom trays that made it easier to ship vaccine vials.
Remote Work Realities
• Working from home requires creative use of living space. You might be surprised that the most important consideration — even more than your desk or lighting — is your chair. If you’re not comfortable, you’ll be less productive.
• Care-home operators faced tremendous pressure throughout the pandemic, and they understood early how important it was to support staff. That translated into better support for residents and a stronger, safer community for everyone.
• Many non-profit organizations have had to adapt their service delivery, especially those that rely on volunteers. Staff have had to wear even more hats than usual to keep their organization’s mission alive.
• A ban on travel led to an increase in virtual experiences as people enjoyed armchair travel or used the technology as a cool way to plan future vacations.
• With local sports leagues shut down, CHEK created a new program for fans called The Upside. It’s become one of the most successful features in the station’s history.
• Streaming events helped arts groups compensate for the loss of live music and theatre, offering their patrons entertainment and raising revenue for musicians.
To hear these stories and many more yourself, go to VictoriaChamber.ca/chamberchats.
Bruce Williams is CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce