Success requires positioning, and in the words of Albert Einstein, “In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity.” But when the COVID-19 crisis struck, the opportunity was as visible as a pin dropped in a haystack. The world was knocked off-balance. The health sector has certainly been the most affected, but the crisis has gone on to shock even the strongest economies. People we know have been laid off, some forced into unpaid leaves and the lucky ones got 50% salary cuts. At Thellesi, we were not to be spared as we were also thrown into disarray.
Closure of Office, and Mindset.
When on March 13th 2020 the Cabinet Secretary for health announced the 1st positively confirmed case of the virus in the country, we did not wait for a second warning. People’s health matters in no less ways than they matter themselves. We understood the risks we would be exposing our team to had we allowed them to continue commuting to work and going about their lives normally – as if the virus would decide to disregard them. So we advised them not to come to the office effective immediately as we monitored the situation. We also quickly sent out emails to all our clients informing them that we would be suspending business operations for 14 days, after which we would give them an update. Since Monday 16th March 2020, our office doors have remained closed.
For well over 3 weeks, our capability to operate efficiently was severely impeded. We were not closing new clients. The capacity of our company to continue fully paying its team now that no new business was coming in was diminishing. Even our ability to see a way out of these tough times was clouded. The disruption of routines we had developed over years caused us to recede into a lot of confusion and uncertainty. And understandably so.
As the pandemic worsened and a return to ‘normalcy’ seemingly fading in the distance, dissolving away with it was team morale. It is our CEO who breathed new life into us. He reminded us that boredom inspires creativity. After about 3 weeks of staying home doing the same things in the same places with the same people, we began to wonder, “Could there be an opportunity for us to continue doing business even as the world was grinding into a near halt?” Our CEO inspired us to think critically about the choices we were making now. He insisted that we should allow that question to bother us, because if we found an answer, we would have unlocked new possibilities.
They say the speed at which a person runs depends on what is chasing after them. Taking salary cuts, unpaid leaves or being laid off were not options we wanted to consider. No one wants to consider such options. So, we agreed that it was important for us to resume work, albeit at home. We began to implement a few things that have gone a long way into restoring our morale and productiveness: –
- Every team member was advised to create a workspace at home where they will operate from. The space is to be treated with the respect a workstation deserves.
- With a workspace set, we started doing daily team meetings at 8AM. Everyone is expected to attend these meetings either in official or casual wear as one may please. Pajamas are highly discouraged as they do not represent the decency of a workstation.
- We reactivated activities we had put on hold and found ways of working on them even while staying home.
- It was also important for us to identify opportunities for our clients and write proposals. We are glad that many of these have gone through – meaning we continue to be in business.
- We reinforced our discipline in the use of project management tools like Asana for self reporting and project tracking.
Success requires positioning. Had we not decided to snap out of worry for things we have no control of, we would not be as busy as we are now, and we probably would have been pushed to close business. We are happy that our team is still intact, our full salaries are still intact and our office is still intact. It takes getting bored of the status quo to challenge it. Do not allow yourself to wait for the pandemic to end, it might take a long while. Evolve. Ask yourself: if this went on for 18 more months, would you still have your salary to meet my needs.