There's now overwhelming evidence that the United Kingdom and indeed the world could meaningfully slow the spread of the coronavirus if all of us, whether healthy or sick, started wearing face masks in public. As a business owner you can save lives by sending this message to all your employees and in fact as ever in business adopt them yourself.
We believe that Face Masks will become the new face of your brands and businesses. As such it's an opportunity whether that's replacing the smiles of your staff with a smiley mask or just using your branding to deliver that message as we all try to recover from this global pandemic to show your customers the new you in the new normal.
Until this week, the official word from the Centers for Disease Control and most research organisations was that masks should only be worn by health care professionals (and supplies should be saved for them). The argument was that lay people didn't know how to wear masks properly, that disposable masks needed to be replaced frequently, and that they are more protection for the people around you than they are for you. That last thing is true, but it's a really good reason to start wearing a mask because none of us can ever know whether or when we might be a coronavirus carrier. Not only does the virus incubate for up to two weeks without causing symptoms, research now tells us that one in four people infected with it never have symptoms at all.
But there's a problem with wearing a face mask, particularly outside of Asia, where it became common practice during the SARS epidemic and where many people still wore them even before Covid-19. That problem is embarrassment. Today, if you wear a mask in public in the United Kingdom, you may worry that people will think you are a) already sick; b) paranoid; or c) paranoidand hoarding masks, which is a very bad thing to do.
You can change that. If you're a business owner or business leader, if you have employees, or a popular blog, if you're a consultant or speaker, or you have a healthy social-media following--or even a lot of friends who listen to your advice--you have the power to save lives by getting the word out that wearing a mask isn't embarrassing or paranoid or a sign of sickness, but simply a very smart thing to do.
1. ENCOURAGE YOUR EMPLOYEES TO WEAR MASKS WHEN AWAY FROM HOME.
If yours is an essential business and you have employees out in public doing things like making deliveries or fulfilling other functions, you can and should ensure that they wear masks while they're out there. If you have employees working on-site, you can encourage or mandate that masks be worn at your facility or office. And even if everyone is working remotely, you can get the word out and encourage people to wear masks when they go out, and you can acknowledge people who show up to video meetings with masks on.
(Please make clear that wearing a mask is no substitute for social distancing. Masks only provide partial protection, so staying home and away from other people remains our best weapon against Covid-19.)
2. CORPORATE FACE MASKS HAVE MULTIPLE BENEFITS.
It's absolutely true that there there has been a bad shortage of masks, both worldwide and in the UK. We understand that PPE protection for health care frontliners is crucial however there is a belief generally that the government and the wider healthcase community now have sufficient supplies. Therefore NOW is the time for us all to adapt and as businesses show a willingness to adapt to the current climate.
Getting some corporate face masks not only gives you a branding opportunity but also shows your customers that you are taking their health and interests seriously as we try to get back to normal and ally people's fears after lockdown.
3. WEAR ONE YOURSELF.
This is a time when leading by example takes on added meaning and importance. There's nothing you can do that will speak louder to your employees, friends, and your circle of influence than if you model the behavior you're advising.
We all need to take the current scenario seriously and making yourself a leader by example and showing your customers and staff members alike that you care about their health and welfare will put you on the front foot against the competition as people will reset in many areas as they make new choices, new plans on where to go and how to spend their money. The ones who lead will grow.
3. THE NEW NORMAL.
This is the new normal. For customer facing businesses such as hairdressers, cafes, restaurants, car dealers, beauty salons, retail stores and alike it is vital you step up and show your customers that you care. Preparing for the slow release of lockdown is crucial and if you don't then you will inevitably turn people off your business and your brand.