A Product Manager’s Guide to Navigating the Pandemic

Product Management
September 14, 2022
12 mins read

Product management demands a lot of empathy. And there has never been a time in history where this value of a product manager was put under so much pressure.

These are testing times for product managers and also an opportunity to give their empathy muscles some exercise.

Let’s accept it — being at the Captain’s seat of a product amidst a global pandemic is challenging and heroic at the same time.

At Zeda.io, we too embarked on a mission to build a SaaS platform for product managers that makes their lives easier. Although our journey has been full of ups and downs, we remain confident that we can make a positive difference in the world of product.

Having said that, we wanted to share some tips and learnings from our building journey that we genuinely believe will help product managers in steering the product forward.

The impact on product management

The pandemic has been tough on everyone, agreed. But there has never been a more challenging time for product managers.

Why? Because product managers have to be everywhere — Design, Development, Marketing, Customer experience — you name it.

They also:

  • Are responsible for the success of a team and product
  • Have various stakeholders to manage
  • Wear multiple hats
  • Must have a lot of empathy

These in themselves are enough reasons why product management is not for the faint of heart. However, with the pandemic forcing everyone to collaborate and work remotely, the challenging aspects of being a product manager are tri-folded.

With that, here are some tips to help you maintain your sanity while managing your product team during these difficult times.

Self — Stay Healthy

Before you can focus on your product, team and users, you must focus on yourself.

It’s only normal for product managers to feel exhausted — mentally and physically, given all the chaos around.

But there are ways to tackle the health toll:

1. Meditation

If you have control over your mind, you can control the whole world. Product managers can utilize the health benefits of meditation to not get overwhelmed by the stress they deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Actually, Meditation can be very beneficial for product management! Check out how Meditation can help you become a better product manager here.

And here are some apps that can keep your mind happy:

2. Work out

Being physically fit goes a long way when it comes to stress management. And with the level of stress that product managers are dealing with today, it is non-negotiable to keep your health in great condition. And we all know a healthy mind lives in a healthy body.

3. Disconnect, often

When working remotely, being connected all the time with the team is the norm. While this might seem like a good thing, there are some caveats. Not disconnecting once in a while can lead to burnout. It is important to set boundaries between work time and personal time to maintain your sanity and not go into complete burnout.

So, when it comes to your time, make sure to change your slack status to Away, your phone notifications turned off, or even better — leave your phone at home and take a walk.

While these might seem like repeat advice, they can have surprisingly positive effects on your productivity.

Team — Keep them happy

At the end of the day, successful product managers know that they should keep their users happy to sell their products. To keep users happy, they need a happy team building the products for their users. This brings us back to the empathy aspect of product management.

While product management has always been a job for empathetic people, they have to up their game now.

What do we mean by that?

A happy team always delivers the best work. There are ways to make sure your team is in good health.

This can be done by having off-topic conversations to understand what they’re going through inside and outside their work. This not only helps build a better bond with the team, but also eases the boredom from always talking about work.

Another great way to keep your team happy, motivated, and in high spirits is to have regular all-hands sessions. This helps foster transparency among the team and also enables the free flow of new ideas and feedback.

Users – Help them generously

Know your users are going through some tough times and come up with ways to help them. Change all your marketing messaging to show you care — this is not the time to sell, but to nurture.

Your users are going to remember how you treated them now — forever. Keep this in mind and make sure all your marketing messaging is in line with it.

But that’s only the beginning.

You should also find ways to make lives a bit easier for your users.

For example:

  • If you are a lending company, consider dropping the late charges on bill payments
  • If you are a rental business, extend the subscription validity for free
  • Increase the benefits of your loyalty program
  • Set up a concierge service for your customers
  • Give discounts if you can afford to

There are countless ways you can help your users now and in the process make a lasting impression in their minds as a brand that cares.

Here are some examples of popular brands doing it right:

  • Paytm allows users to find vaccination slots from within their app.
  • Google has made their video conferencing service, Hangouts Meet, available for all G-suite customers until July 1, 2020.
  • Loom made their Pro free for teachers and students at K-12 schools, universities, and educational institutions. They have also removed the recording limit on free plans and have cut the price for Loom Pro in half to help businesses and brands across the board.
  • CloudApp, a tool that lets you capture and share videos, images, and gifs, is offering their subscription at 50% off.
  • LinkedIn is opening up 16 of its learning courses for free.
  • Jamm — An audio-visual communication tool used by remote and distributed teams is offering it free of charge for the foreseeable future.

Here is a running list of brands getting the pandemic response right.

Product — Revisit the roadmap

If you’re still using a product roadmap created before the pandemic, you should stop. Things have drastically changed since the pandemic, and it’s high time you update your roadmap keeping the current market dynamics in mind.

Also, if you haven’t already, it’s time to embrace remote-first development. This will make the development process smoother and more efficient as your team works remotely.

Product managers have a lot on their plates and shouldering so much responsibility during a pandemic can be tough. However, these were some simple things you can do to help yourself, your users, and the team.

You have to stay healthy while also supporting them in this time of need. It may seem like there’s no way you can accomplish this in a time when everything seems uncertain but know that with careful planning and preparation, we’ll get through this together!


Jacob Koshy
Product Marketer at Zeda.io
A marketer in love with SaaS products. When away from work, I'm either spending time with my cats or adding miles on my motorcycle.
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