Although we’re all very well informed about the realities of the pandemic…. the risks, the restrictions, and its effect on our everyday lives, it has also been a time to learn new things.

Our transition from reps making regular visits to FTMA members, through to reps making pre-organised appointments, through to reps making phone calls and video calls has happened quickly, and like all things learned “on the run”, I’m sure we’ve made our fair share of mistakes.

Even with relaxed restrictions, COVID-19 remains in our communities, and has no vaccine.  If viruses were likened to athletics, COVID-19 is the Usain Bolt of viruses….it travels SO FAST, and only needs the slightest opportunity!  So, until there is an effective vaccine, hopefully 12 months away, should we be looking serious, professional social distancing with new communication methods in a more long-term way?

Customer/supplier meetings now feature a heavier use of video conferencing such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, and other web-based communications.  It is easy to think that as restrictions slowly ramp down in each of the Australian states, these different communications methods will become redundant, and all of the “regular” methods of interaction will quickly return.

But should they?

I have found my (novice) experience of video meetings to be pretty good.  The software is pretty easy, and free versions are available.  I have found Zoom to be the simplest (NO! I am not on commission from Zoom!!)  Video meetings are great to be able to see facial expressions, body language and to share humour, without the worry of room arranging, social distancing and safety.  If you haven’t yet tried a video meeting, I strongly recommend you give it a go.  You’ll be surprised at how easy it is.  If you are unsure, ask a colleague, customer, or supplier to set up a meeting (the harder bit) so you can just join in (the easy bit) and get used to it.  Video meetings that I have experienced tend to ensure the meeting has one speaker at a time (always a challenge), and they also tend to finish promptly.

You’ll also be able to learn how dishevelled you look, your office looks, your garden outside looks, your kids at home (if doing the home-schooling thing) look.  You may want to address some of these issues. 

I believe that all of the suppliers should be moving to video meetings – as a default – for the foreseeable future as a courtesy to the FTMA member – unless directed otherwise by the member.  I’m sure all supplier reps are happy to get out and about and make physical sales calls, but with the virus still lurking amongst the community for the foreseeable future, real efforts at social distancing still need to be continued.

Back in 2007-8, Australia dodged the Global Financial Crisis pretty well.  It’s easy to think we’ve dodged another bullet – but only if we all adopt practices that deal with the “New Normal”.

In closing, Kersten Gentle has volunteered to individually Zoom-meet every FTMA member.  Just drop her a line to tee up a meeting!!  J (editorial response……..I’m always happy to talk, just wear your pants please!)

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