New behaviors to thrive in the new normal

This is a guest post from Sharad Mehrotra, CEO of dtac.

These are confusing times. No one knows exactly when lockdowns will be fully lifted or how long the economy will take to recover. Rather than attempt to divine or control the unknowable, I believe now is a good time to focus on what is within our control: our own behaviors.

dtac just introduced four new behaviors to guide us in the new normal. They perfectly respond to the uncertainty and rapid pace of change that the COVID-19 outbreak has thrust upon us. This is not a time to retreat, to stop innovating or to work in isolation. On the contrary, we believe now is the time to always explore, create together, keep promises and be respectful.


What we see: After the declaration of emergency, dtac saw immediate changes in the usage patterns of our customers. Productivity apps like Zoom and Microsoft Office grew by triple digits. And high-traffic areas for internet usage shifted from office centers in central Bangkok to residential zones further afield. While some emergency measures are now being relaxed, we expect remote work and a more rapid adoption of digital channels to stay. In fact, we’ve seen 5x growth for the redemption of dtac reward deals related to online shopping in the dtac app.

Our belief: When change happens with such speed and intensity, learning, curiosity and daring are more important than ever. Constant, data-driven exploration will be critical to spot passing trends and lasting changes. This is the time to test, fail fast and pivot. More than ever, we must dare to challenge the status quo and always explore.


What we see: Social distancing is affecting the way we socialize, work and shop. In dtac’s digital channels, app usage grew 26 percent and the web is up by 46 percent. dtac has also taken a pioneering role in Thailand with our flexible work arrangements. In a survey we conducted, over 80 percent of our employees reported that they feel positive about their ability to remain productive while away from the office.

Our belief: We must also keep a careful eye on the long-term effects of isolation both on our productivity and individuals mental stress. With social distancing, it can also be harder to find different perspectives, share, involve and help each other succeed. Our “create together” behavior is a reminder to us that we must not let social distancing harm our ability to bring diverse teams together and hear every voice in our organization. This why we will seek new productivity tools and new ways of connecting with our colleagues in a digital environment, ensure we find a balance that works for all.


What we see: The COVID-19 outbreak has caused widespread confusion and anxiety. Criminals immediately seized this opportunity, with phishing attacks increasing dramatically. It’s also a time of rumors, fake news and speculation, which fill the gaps in our knowledge.

Our belief: Challenging and unpredictable situations may arise and we must be willing to tackle them in a way that builds and strengthens trust with our customers. It’s more important than ever that organizations and governments speak with a single, clear message—and keep the promises they make. We must also keep our data safe, and help our customers avoid online threats. In short, we must be honest, an essential value of the dtac brand.


What we see: dtac sales are negatively affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. And many of our customers are in difficult situations. The Thai economy is expected to contract in 2020 by 5-6 percent (Bank of Thailand, K-Research). The number of foreign tourists may plunge by almost two-thirds (60-65%, K-Research, Tourism Authority of Thailand), the lowest level since 2006.

Our belief: It is at the core of dtac’s brand values to be human. And it is in times of crisis that companies show their true colors and live up to their purpose. We are here to empower Thai society, and that means understanding what our customers are going through, seeing them, and showing our respect. We also believe that connectivity can support our customers at this difficult time. dtac will continue to build on everything we accomplished during the crisis by supporting our customers and employees.

It’s very difficult to know what the future will bring. But we believe the new dtac behaviors will remain true in the short- and long-term future, guiding our actions as we strive to empower Thai society and connecting our customers to what matters most.