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Unprecedented times (at least for us)

Article by Adam Rabinowitz (CEO of Imagin8)

I had a completely different newsletter planned before Sunday, March 15th when everything turned red, and then again yesterday as the nation prepares for the most uncertain period in its history.

Before all this broke, I’d send out an upbeat and useful newsletter that would help you grow your business. That was before Sunday 15th March and the further announcement on the 22nd. Now it’s more about survival in apocalyptic times.

Life in quarantine, business in lockdown…

Imagin8 has completely changed since the last time you opened one of these newsletters. From its humble beginnings in my living room, Imagin8 has undergone some rapid growth, and has now been split up into two separate companies. This newsletter was going to be about how to gear your business for growth based on the learnings from my own experience, but in light the impending lockdown I’m going to give you a leader’s perspective on surviving the global COVID-19 pandemic.

If your business hasn’t yet developed a Disaster Recovery Plan, or a Business Continuity Plan, then this event should rocket you into action. Let me share my thoughts on how to carry your business through what lies ahead.

1. Working from home requires strong leadership

One thing to take very seriously is the fact that allowing your staff to work from home guarantees only one thing. The “home” part. The “work” part has to be tightly managed. Twenty-one days (if not more, we still don’t know) away from the office can do a lot for people’s attitudes towards work.  Here’s how we’re dealing with this at Imagin8.

As the CEO, I check in every morning with my team leaders. We set the worklist for the day. I check in again every afternoon to see what progress we’ve made on the day’s deliverables.  Team leaders, in turn, do the same with their teams. They do this before my check in. This gives them a chance to set their own daily work lists with their teams and give me the team’s feedback.

If you don’t make an effort to drive effective communication with your staff during this time, you’re in danger of falling behind as staff lose the momentum created by being around colleagues and fall into their own rhythm of taking time away from work.

2. Gear your operations for mobility

Several years ago, I realized the tenuous thread on which some of my business operations depended. We relied on data and applications that were running on a local server which was kept at our office. One thought kept me awake at night. What happens if that server disappears?  Also, the applications we used at the time ran on that server, and you could only access them if you were on the same network. What if you needed access and you weren’t in the office.  We embarked on a complete mobility plan four years ago.  In that time, we redeveloped al our applications and moved everything to a secure cloud-based platform. This included a revamp of all our internal operational systems. Believe it or not, we’ve been through two iterations of our internal operational systems since this initiative began.  Now we’re able to run core functions from any location, and on any hardware. This was one key initiative that allowed Imagin8 to be completely mobile.

If your business isn’t geared for mobility, start developing your plan now.  Imagin8 can help you with your technical platform if you need it. Get in touch if you need help.

3. Remove location dependence

We decided to standardize on laptops from the outset, especially with the consistent power outages courtesy of Eskom. Actually, Eskom’s unreliability was one of the reasons for the decision to remove dependence on the local server too.  Every time Eskom flipped the switch, we had to fire up the generator and reboot the server. We wasted so much time and lost a lot of productivity every time there was load shedding. Anyway, with dependence removed from our local server, and everyone equipped with laptops, it meant that if need be, we could pack up the office, move to a remote location, and resume work at any time, which we did on several occasions.  Those days of preparation paid off now that we’re able to do what we’ve done so many times in the face of a real disaster.

I hope this has been helpful.  Share this with other business leaders and SME owners. It is crucial to keep small businesses ticking over while this pandemic crisis dictates everything around us for the months to come.

…and coffee

Now it’s time for coffee. I happened to be in Melrose Arch on a lazy Sunday and found a small coffee shop and roastery on the lower level called Tikki Tonga and although I didn’t stop to have a coffee, I bought  bag of their Number 2 “Heavy Hitter” beans, and OMG, it was the best thing I ever did. I’ve got a domestic Breville espresso machine, and I make my coffee in a certain size cup, and until I bought these beans, the coffee was always nice, but not amazeballs. This is without a doubt one of my top ten.

Till next time.

Imagin8 is a proud Member of the NSBC