As the economy deals with the effects of the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, decisive strategies are required to gear up businesses for the future and make them agile enough to survive the challenging times.
Companies have suffered from retrenchments, revenue losses and cash flow declines which have forced them to revisit their strategies and prioritise business resilience more than ever. Both the local and global uncertain economic conditions will still persist long after the pandemic is over; however, it’s the businesses and sectors that respond swiftly and in a sustainable manner that will come out strong on the other side.
The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we do things. The little things we took for granted, such as chats in the common areas and the last-minute brainstorms to solve a crisis had to be limited and to some extent were completely absent. As the world continues to deal with the spread of the virus, stringent regulations will remain for the short-term, resulting in restricted movement even within the workplace. Given where we find ourselves at the moment, industries have been initiating conversations on what the future of the workplace will look like in the short to medium-term.
Changing the way we do business as a sector is, therefore, not only an opportunity but an inevitable necessity. Companies are recognising the increasing importance of workplace innovation as the shape and form of the prescribed workplace are starting to change. The Pandemic has demonstrated that work can occur anywhere, as long as employees are capacitated with the appropriate equipment, infrastructure and support. Business leaders who do not adapt to this change will find themselves out of the loop as workplace culture rapidly changes course. But this change will require a paradigm shift in terms of workplace dynamics while prioritising the wellbeing of employees.
As businesses figure out what the new workplace will be, it is vital for them to strive for a balance of seeking optimal outcomes from their employees as they work from home while remaining human in a technologically driven work environment. During the last few months, businesses discovered that technological advancements are not the enemy but rather the biggest barrier is the difficulty of integrating employees with these technologies. As such, human capital departments will find themselves evaluating how people adapt, behave and work within these newly formed ecosystems while ensuring meaningful, connected interactions still occur in the workplace.
In order to successfully and efficiently implement remote workplace strategies, all businesses from the smallest to the largest corporates would have to consider several challenges:
As working remotely has not been a normal concept for many people, structural changes may have to take place. Setting up a home workstation and ensuring stable connection is now paramount.
Organisations need to assess if all employees are able to create a conducive environment, especially where employees are living with extended family and may encounter various distractions.
Leaders will need to adjust to a new way of managing employees that does not require monitoring. This is an opportunity for growth of employees as businesses foster more independence.
With independence comes great responsibility. Employees will have to discipline themselves to avoid temptations inherent to working remotely, such as waking up and getting ready to ensure productivity rather than lounging in pyjamas all day.
Communication is now more important than ever. Employees and managers need to adjust their expectations and communicate them efficiently. Providing clear, frequent communication and is also crucial to keep up morale.
Clear Human Capital guidelines have to be put in place, adapting to remote working practices. It is important for employees to understand that working remotely is still working and should be treated as such.
Working during a global pandemic is a new experience for everyone, and it has added an extra layer of stress for most people. As industries continue to invest money, time and efforts to ensure the equipment and infrastructure are efficient, what remains critical is how they show up to for their people; therefore, one cannot overlook the need for empathy, especially during the tough times. While employees continue to play their part in ensuring the success of the business, management needs to extend themselves and create an environment where employees are able to communicate any challenges they may be facing and know that they will be afforded the necessary opportunity to deal with off-duty obligations, as well as get sufficient rest and recovery. Businesses need to be clear and deliberate in their approach to promoting employee well-being, as the health and well-being of their people are and will always be crucial to the success of the business.
The Coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact and shape how we see the workplace in the future, be it working remotely, flexible working hours or integrating more virtual engagements instead of face-face. Due to the current market condition, it’s imperative for business leaders to evaluate their organisation’s operations and strategic goals in order to determine how they adapt to the changes that have been brought about by the pandemic but also, how they continue to thrive and achieve long-term sustainability.
‘BancABC took the time to understand our business. They recognised the potential in us.’
“Our story as business owners begins when we founded SignXpert together in 2013,’ begins Kefilwe Ruwona. I wasn’t always an entrepreneur.
In the years before we formed the business I would help my husband with his signage operation on a part-time basis. I loved to keep myself busy on evenings, weekends and holiday with mostly administrative tasks he didn’t have time for. That’s my strength.”
She continues: “He was working very hard and I could see there was potential in this industry. After a couple of years, I made the big decision to resign from my job, and join him full time to help grow the company. In the beginning, we were very small: a tiny premises with three staff members. But we had everything we needed to make this company a real success, a strong work ethic, good understanding of the industry and a handful of happy customers who were giving us repeat business.”
“However, there was one key ingredient we were missing. The only way to unlock the next level of growth was to upgrade our machinery. We needed top-of-the-line new printers so that we could expand and diversify. But we didn’t have that kind of money, and that’s when we started having a meaningful dialogue with BancABC. They took the time to understand our business and seeing the potential in us, offered us a loan to acquire the machinery we needed to grow — and grow we did,” she smiles.
“The new machines enabled us do a lot of new things that stimulated the business. I estimate that we grew tenfold in a short space of time,’ explains Jackson Ruwona — who currently divides his duties between being the co-owner and front-line operations manager of the business.
‘We have been able to transition into a full-service signage and branding business. Very few citizen-owned SMEs in this industry are able to make that leap,’ he adds, it is the financial backing we have received from BancABC has given us the confidence to scale up. We have qualified for additional funding over time because we always honor our loan agreements. Never missed a payment!”
Ruwona reflects on the COVID-19 shutdowns and the impact they have had on the family business. “During the Lockdowns, our factory was running at full capacity because many of our clients needed us as they responded to the pandemic. We were printing labels for hand sanitizer bottles and new signs for all kinds of workplaces.
We also make branded buffs which are a great alternative to face-masks. We have stayed relevant to the changing needs of our customers. Our marriage gives the business its stability and foundation as we are united in our vision for what this can one day become, we share the workload, the ideas, the setbacks, and the credit — everything is equal.”
GABORONE-BTC’s dynamic infrastructure was recently put to the test when the Company held its first ever virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) drawing participation from its broad base of shareholders from across the vast geographical reach and directors from outside the country.
The telco-giant leveraged its vast reliable network to seamlessly deliver its first ever virtual AGM ensuring that the two-hour long meeting was without glitches and delivering a superior experience.
“We successfully held out first ever virtual AGM this year. Given the restrictions on gatherings and travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as implemented by the Government of Botswana which restrictions are anticipated to prevail in the immediate future and during the rest of the year 2020, this year’s AGM was held virtually through electronic communication where all shareholders participating in the meeting were able to simultaneously hear each other throughout the meeting. It was critical for us to protect lives whilst still providing vital feedback and updates to our valued shareholders,” says Anthony Masunga, the BTC Managing Director.
Celebrating 40 years of progress this year, BTC has the largest shareholder base in the country following its listing in the Botswana Stock Exchange in 2016, which was a watershed moment in economic inclusion.
Independent experts have commended BTC’s infrastructure and its international strategic partnerships as a national strategic asset which can be the base point of national digitilisation. The Corporation recently joined the Microsoft Partner Network as a registered value-added reseller, launching a wide range of services that enable customers to unlock immense value whilst driving the National economy. To showcase this capability, BTC hosted a virtual AGM and successfully demonstrated its capability to deliver a seamless digital event.
BTC now sells and supports some household brand name solutions such as Microsoft Office 365, including Microsoft Teams utilised by businesses across the economic spectrum. Also, by leveraging the Microsoft public cloud platform, Microsoft Azure, BTC is able to bring hyperscale cloud computing power to Botswana. The home-bred Telco continues to innovate and reaffirm its position as a pioneer in the local technology space.
GABORONE – In their continued efforts to further drive the Youth Employability and Entrepreneurship agenda, Stanbic Bank Botswana AcceleR8 and Statistics Botswana have today, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The partnership is in line with the Bank’s strategic outlook to provide support and thought leadership that contributes towards increased usage of statistics for planning and decision making. Furthermore, it will allow both entities to enhance the effectiveness of their National development efforts in areas of common interest, particularly with regard to changing the Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship narrative.
Speaking at the event, which was held at the Bank’s Acceler8, Stanbic Bank Botswana’s Chief Executive, Mr. Samuel Minta said, “We are excited to partner with Statistics Botswana on this new and exciting initiative. As a Bank, we firmly believe in the formation of Private Public Partnerships as a means to drive Botswana’s socio-economic growth. This is how we are able to create sustainable solutions that have a real impact in our communities, turning dreams into reality and creating legacies. The Bank has the strategic platform to provide support and thought leadership expertise to contribute towards increased usage of statistics for planning and decision making. Furthermore, through the AcceleR8, we are able to foster an environment which provides solutions in terms of employability and entrepreneurship”.
For his part, the Statistician General, Dr Burton Mguni said that as part of its mandate to strengthen the engagement of the private sector in the leveraging of information technology platforms to be used to inform strategic decisions, Statistics Botswana is proud to partner with Stanbic Bank Botswana. He highlighted that with a key focus on data exchange platforms to facilitate sharing of data for purposes of generating official statistics, the partnership will go a long way in bringing this mandate to fruition.
As such, we intend to cooperate by:
Promoting knowledge and information dissemination by unpacking the; Quarterly Multi-Topic Survey (QMTS) & International Merchandise Trade Statistics (IMTS) and other related statistical information;
Strengthening the capacity of end users of statistics
Promoting and influencing employment creation through the use of statistical data such as international merchandise trade statistics; and
Hold at minimum quarterly or as may be opportune, thought leadership sessions through which to inform and disseminate useful information that can be used for opportunity creation including; venture creation, public policy guidance and ultimately, employment creation.He further said, “As Statistics Botswana, we recognise the important role which Stanbic Bank Botswana plays as a private financial institution duly incorporated under the laws of Botswana and committed to serving the interests of organisations and individuals. Recalling that Statistics Botswana undertakes periodic Business Surveys, private sector partnerships are highly attractive. Business surveys produce statistics which are critical for national policy formulation, planning and decision making across all sectors of the economy, there is heightened need for strategic collaborations with the business community to significantly improve the quality of the data produced through these surveys. Just to mention but a few, Statistics Botswana conducts monthly and quarterly business surveys to produce Statistics on Formal Employment, National Accounts (Gross Domestic Product), Prices (Consumer Price Index) Industrial production and ICT usage.”
Statistics Botswana is a body corporate established by and under the Statistics Act of 2009. It is the pre-eminent National agency responsible for the development and management of official statistics; and the official source and custodian of official statistics and, the primary agency of the National Statistical System (NSS).
“We are confident that this partnership will continue to grow from strength to strength as we partner to drive Botswana’s growth. I cannot overemphasise how excited we are for this new partnership. As a bank we are truly dedicated to improving lives and this is yet another step in the right direction,” concluded Minta.