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Navigating A Global Pandemic

September 17, 2020

In a year of tragedy and change, this fall has been marked by even more uncertainty trying to figure out the impact that back-to-school, colder weather, and shorter days will bring as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The Martin Group has been operating 100% remote since March when the pandemic began. After receiving interest from our staff and feedback from clients, we made the decision to open up the office to those who are interested after Labor Day.

As we head into the next phase of this pandemic, we tapped Chief Operating Officer Lisa Strock for some insight into our decision-making, lessons learned from this year, and what we’re focusing on as we head toward 2021. 

1. What is The Martin Group’s position on COVID-19 post-Labor Day and how did we come up with this policy?

We continue to take our planning in stride knowing things may need to change at the drop of a hat. Post-Labor Day, we’ve re-reopened our offices to associates who would like the option to come in. It’s not mandatory, but an employee survey told us there were folks who would like to be in the office, and we felt we could safely accommodate inviting people back in.  Our planning has been primarily informed by our associates, client feedback to ensure we’re continuing to service our partners at the highest level, and keeping our finger on the pulse of our local business community. And, of course, we’re taking the state mandates and best practices very seriously and putting those practices into place.  

2. What have you learned since the initial phases of quarantine?

First, that things can seem impossible until they’re done. Second, it’s wise to find opportunities for growth and positive change even during challenging times. And thirdly, a company’s true character really comes out in times like this and it takes a village to help, support, and learn from one another.  

3. Some positive changes have come about since COVID hit: which ones would you like to see remain?

I believe we’re a stronger company today, but that hasn’t been without a lot of hard work and hard decisions on everyone’s part. We are more integrated than ever before, not in just how we work with one another, but how we connect and truly engage with each other – and our associates, clients, and the communities we serve directly benefit from this kind of thinking. 

4. What has been TMG’s approach to working from home during the pandemic and what have we learned about what works to keep associates happy, supportive, productive, and connected?

Our approach at the onset and even now is being as transparent and empathetic as possible. We have a theme, “The Difference is Making One,” and our management team and all associates have really come together to be there not only for our client partners but for one another. It’s been six months and you can imagine how many things have changed for our team, not just in their work setting but in their home lives, too.  So we’ve had to change as well, but that’s always been a hallmark of ours – a culture of individuals who embrace change. 

5. What has been most helpful in navigating the complications COVID-19 has brought to small businesses?

I found it extremely helpful when our regional advertising community came together to discuss our shared challenges and brainstorm and exchange ideas and solutions throughout this crisis. As a matter of fact, we decided that we should continue meeting on a regular basis regardless of COVID as our industry will be stronger for it. 

6. What are you most proud of how TMG has navigated COVID-19?

I’m always most proud of our entire agency team. They’ve remained steadfast in their leadership, engagement, and commitment to one another and our clients. They’ve taken on new challenges and continue to make a difference in what they do each and every day. It’s extremely impressive! 

7. What would be your advice for other companies as we head into the fall/winter with no clear end in sight for COVID-19?

Don’t get complacent. Stay informed. Pay attention to the infection rate in your area or areas you do business in as this is going to be a key indicator of any shifts our communities need to make.  Have a general understanding of the mandates and how they’re evolving. Talk to other people around you and learn how their organizations are responding to the same issues. 

But hands down, I think the most important thing you can do is keep checking in and talking with your associates and sharing updates as regularly as possible. Remember that they’re being impacted by this in varying ways and being a good listener can make all the difference for someone.  

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