Karen Wheller, Chief Operations Officer, Enbaya Prepaid Meters
What have you enjoyed the most about working from home?
Working from home is far more productive (far less distractions) a full working day tasks and more can be accomplished in half the time. Even interactions with staff, customers, suppliers have become more productive. Above work productivity, the real bonus is changing eating habits to better and healthier eating such as home-cooked and fresh food (not takeaways, drive-by and fast foods).
How did you build camaraderie and stay connected during lockdown?
Our company is highly tech-oriented and we have established telecommunication means to work from remote a long time ago. The difference now is that these are being used to the fullest. From Hangouts messaging and meetings to Google drive collaboration on documents, sheets, presentations, CRM that can be accessed from anywhere and a lot more, were always available. Now team members and manager are getting together more online in meetings and communications than ever before. This basically means that the same meetings and the same interactions continued as usual. The only difference is now that it is fully done online while previously only 60% or less of daily interactions.
What do you envision as the new normal for construction professionals?
The new normal is extensive use of technology for productivity and the reduction is waste (wasted time on the roads, logistics, materials, wasted time in meetings that are mostly habitual only, etc), and all-around waste that was present simply due to old habits. These habits were established and necessary before the advances in technologies that we have today. In many cases from what we see all around; the lockdown did nothing more than make many businesses aware of the many other efficient ways to work which have been around for quite a while now.
This trend will grow in the future and will stretch continually the efficiency and “new normal” as well as the new way businesses look at work in general and this will continue for many years ahead. In essence, the “new normal” is “continuous change”. This is just the beginning.
Top 3 tips for staying resilient in the face of current situation.
1. Technology to save costs and bring balance. Adopt the best technology for your business for remote working for resilience (research and evaluate everything possible, that includes especially open source to reduce costs). For example if 70% or more of the technology used in a business is open source, the savings are enormous. These savings can be re-appropriated to create further resilience in other areas of the business. Consider making use of SaaS (software as a service) technology where open source is not available, this means you can scale up and down at will and will be adaptable to change in a moments notice.
2. Building a culture of remote working is now of curial importance and now is the right time to achieve it fairly quickly with the right management and leadership. Achieving such culture will bring about new improved moral and a new way of working that can be appreciated by everyone. Productivity will go up if done correctly. Responsibility and accountability is going to take a new meaning and a new level of understanding. This goes together with creating telecommuting manuals for staff, adaptable and efficient KPIs, new efficient measurement tools for productivity, training from remote, and a strong management support structure to back it all up.
3. Last but not least, re-think the business, question everything you ever known to be the “right way of doing things”. This means continually evaluate “waste”, or “outdated ways” of doing things, old ways of thinking that in a global connected business environment are out of date. Every business is different and this will mean different things to different businesses, but essentially businesses that cannot grow and adapt quickly now, as well as in life post lockdown and post COVID-19, are not likely to survive in the medium and long term. This is because adaptable businesses will dominate the markets quickly and customer expectations are totally going to change in the long term. This is scary for a lot of people, but after you get over the “scary part” you can see the opportunities.
How do you cope?
We are an adaptable agile business backed by extensive technology, we are not in the “coping” mode (none of us are) we are in the “business as usual” mode and we are so glad to see that other businesses now getting the hang of it also. This is not to say that we have not been affected by the lockdown, this is to say that for us it is an excellent opportunity to learn more where we can improve, stretch to new limits and learn new things that we can do every day to make our lives faster and easier as well as our customers lives.
Our mission right now is to find ways to deliver more costs effective services and bring savings to our customers post lockdown and permanently, while retaining and improving our quality of service as well as innovation. That is not an easy feat, but we believe it can be done and it is sustainable for future growth.
Lockdown and viruses are just another event in life because we have no control over it, but how we react to it, what we learn and apply will determine all our futures.
The longer the lockdown or the restrictions, the bigger the opportunities to grow and think out of the box.
I wish every single business no matter how bad or bleak things seem right now will take the opportunity to turn this around and start looking and thinking out of the box to have limitless growth in the long term future.