In lieu of social distancing a large majority of the workforce has transitioned to working remotely. As stay at home orders continued throughout the majority of 2020 we did what humans naturally do - adapt. What we quickly began to realize was that the line became easily blurred between “working from home” and “living at work”. Adjusting to this new routine proved to be challenging in different ways; while some individuals felt it difficult to get motivated while surrounded by an abundance of distractions, others felt they were struggling to maintain a work-life balance due to the fact that bringing their work home gave them the excuse to always be “plugged-in”. Through the many adjustments that needed to be made in order to create efficient work environments remotely or at home one thing was consistent - a sense of community and camaraderie was missing amongst employees.
From a corporate culture standpoint brands and organizations needed to adapt in order to compensate for the decreased face-to-face interactions that typically reinforce company culture. In order to promote engagement and culture, the use of swag kits and shipping branded merchandise straight to individuals’ homes has skyrocketed. This rode on the coattails of seamless delivery services such as Amazon Prime and others, which have conditioned consumers to expect convenience. Swag kits combine culture, engagement and convenience by making recipients feel appreciated and connected through the experience of receiving something tailored specifically to them. These can be used for a multiple number of use cases including but not limited to: employee onboarding, prospecting new clients, appreciation/gifting, virtual conferences, referral/influencer programs and new product launches. In order to promote engagement you must deliver an experience; swag is the best medium of delivering experience in a remote world.
We’ve seen through this period of remote work that corporate culture is highly valued by the majority of professionals. In an ongoing analysis of 1.4 million employee-written reviews on Glassdoor, researchers found that in the months between April and August 2020 (which saw the most widespread lockdowns, layoffs, and shifts to remote work in the early pandemic) corporate culture and value ratings were higher than ever before. In a keyword analysis of these same reviews, it was proven that employees of Culture 500 companies gave their corporate leaders higher ratings in terms of honest communication and transparency in the first six months of the pandemic compared against the preceding year. The takeaway from this study is that what people value most is honest connection and engagement with their employers, organizations they work for, and brands they interact with. Branded merchandise and personalized products are a great way to drive engagement and strengthen connection through experience.
In a post-pandemic world, we do not anticipate the new work behaviors or methods of conducting business that we have adopted will simply go away. Conducting meetings in a virtual manner or working remotely are new convenient realities of the new modern workforce. That does not change the fact that in-person experiences are the best way to build an emotional connection; therefore, swag and tangible branded merchandise play a vital role in bridging that virtual gap. Connection driven by experience leads to more positivity, trust and loyalty, which consequently translates into more effective working relationships. Whether it be promoting corporate culture or receiving buy-in from potential clients, connection is a central pillar in propelling our economy this year and in the years to come. It’s time we view swag as the key to this world of possibility.