We are living through a situation that nobody predicted. An event of this magnitude, however, does come with certain advantages: it brings to light problems/opportunities that were previously hidden, and it also gives us time and space to pause and invest. So, why not take this opportunity to reinvent your company?
Make Your Information Digital
One of the main takeaways of this situation is recognizing the importance of the ability to operate everything in your company digitally. If you have not moved your information systems to the cloud, I would recommend you start working in that direction as soon as possible.
Now is the time to research how you can take advantage of the technology available today to be able to operate in this manner. Even if you have all your main information systems available on the cloud, there may be some transactions that are not fully digital yet.
In our case, we moved our systems to the cloud several years ago, but we left one major piece of our operations in the physical realm. Every Tuesday, we would deliver hundreds of payment checks to our suppliers in-person. We quickly realized that the sum of resources we were expending on this process was unnecessary and wasteful.
The need for change became evident, and we have chosen to migrate all of our payments online. When someone on the team brought up the idea, I could not believe I had missed this part, and I’m grateful we found something we can change, which will also improve our operations. In the short-term, we will significantly reduce contact with our suppliers, and in the long-term, it will save our suppliers and us valuable time and resources.
Develop Remote Working Protocols
In this situation, we must all learn to work remotely. Maintaining regular rhythms as much as possible will communicate a sense of normalcy. For instance, we hold cross-functional meetings, and we also have a company-wide meeting. These happen on set days on a weekly or monthly basis. We have sustained those on the days as we would have before, only they are now virtual.
We have also developed new tools, such as daily check-ins and more frequent company-wide meetings. We also set up a WhatsApp group for the entire company where we share pictures of our workspaces, pets, and snacks to keep connected. Yesterday, people shared their favorite delivery services. Because everybody is living this situation from a different perspective, the aggregate information was especially useful.
Allow Redundancy and Entangled Workflows
In this situation, not everyone will be able to perform their same functions as they did in the past. It may be necessary to move some people to different teams to ensure everybody has a full workload. Having redundancy in how you design and manage your company will help you make these types of transitions more easily.
One of the things that has been helpful is that everyone on our teams, despite their small sizes, has full process knowledge. Therefore, if one person is sick or goes on maternity leave, someone can step in with no downtime. There is no need to retrain because everyone on that team knows what to do from beginning to end.
Having proper communication channels is also essential. Teaching everyone in the organization how the company works and how it is organized will help build resilience. Company-wide meetings are great because everyone knows what is happening at any given moment. When people must move into a different position, they will be able to transition more quickly because they’ll already have the necessary baseline knowledge.
Something we have done only on a few occasions at Celaque but is still highly valuable is to rotate positions. This situation has happened with people who have been with us for many years and have worked in different roles. These past rotations are bearing their fruit now. One of our sales representatives started in the precursor of what is now our Properties team, which manages a property portfolio of sales and leases.
Because our sales team has had to transition into other areas within the company in the past several weeks, this sales representative is now supporting our Properties team, which needs all the help it can get. Our Properties team had a backlog of work and is also on the frontlines helping all our clients.
Use This Opportunity to Learn
This situation is a unique learning experience. I am viewing it as a tool to see where I can improve and where the company can become better. I am currently experimenting with many new communication tools to see how we can unify our teams more and how we can leverage our organizational knowledge.
This past week, we organized a creative team and planned to discuss new product ideas and how to improve our operations. This team is something we might have done in the future, but never with the amount of energy and vision that we can harness today.
We will come out of this better and more resilient. We have to, and I have faith that we all will.