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.
In continued efforts to empower young students across Botswana through the Digital Schools Programme, Orange Botswana through the Orange Foundation don handed over digital equipment worth P53, 731.50 to Thankane Primary School, located in Jwaneng.
“We are excited to be in Jwaneng and to see yet another milestone for impact being delivered. This relationship began with a view towards working together – inclusively and sustainably – give children greater access to quality education. This is, after all, a key goal within our Vision 2036 and even of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is also core to our values and beliefs system at Orange Botswana. Our Digital Schools initiative is a true testament to the Orange Botswana Foundation’s unwavering commitment, loyalty, and support towards the youth of Botswana,” said Benson Lenong from Orange Botswana.
Donated equipment includes but is not limited to:
50 tablets loaded with local syllabus content
1 Video projector
1 Raspberry servers
1 JBL Speaker
1 Case (to contain the package)
The Orange Botswana Foundation, in partnership with the Government of the Republic Botswana, embarked on a quest to empower and educate the youth of the country through giving them better access to technology through Government’s Education & Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP). Orange Botswana signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Basic Education and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in 2017, to kickstart a pilot of the Digital Schools Programme in 2018. The programme has seen 16,225 students benefiting from deployed schools, with 102 teachers trained in using digital kits as a mode of teaching. Thankane Primary is the 52nd school being engaged as part of the nationwide initiative.
The Orange Digital Schools Project is all about utilisation and integration of ICTs in learning, while at the same time addressing issues of digital inclusion and digital literacy. The Programme aims to bridge the digital gap by leveraging technology to improve access to education in primary schools such as Thankane.
Thankane Primary School was established in 1989 with 324 learners enrolled from Jwaneng and surrounding communities. The school continues to perform well in the Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE), and consistently works to ensure children learn vital life lessons both inside and outside the classroom. As one of the highest-ranked academic schools in the South region, Thankane Primary boasts excellent academics, leadership, sports, and culture.
The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) last week held it 7th graduation since its inception with the theme ‘Building a University of industry through a well-rounded ecosystem of economic transformation and innovative entrepreneurship’. 297 students graduated from the class of 2022 compared to the 58 from their first graduation as an institution.
The Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development, Aubrey Lesaso commended the University as the strides made in the midst of the difficult conditions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic with potentially devastating impact on the learning of students were thrilling. “Some of the challenges experienced during this period include having to change the learning spaces the school was accustomed to, study remotely without adequate preparations and with limited resources,” said Lesaso.
He acknowledged that the Government through his Ministry is committed to ensuring that they provide quality education to the citizens of Botswana, which is in line with one of the aspirations of Vision 2036 that addresses the need for Development of Human Capital.
“I wish to call upon the BIUST leadership and all stakeholders involved, to remain dedicated to driving the BIUST mission and vision and contribute to achieving the targets outlined in the Vision 2036 National Transformation Agenda,” added Lesaso.
The Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Bulb World (PTY) Ltd, Ketshephaone Jacob noted that for decades entrepreneurs have been identified as the critical change agents in socio-economic development, and some countries have been a lot more intentional and successful in promoting enterprising. “It’s only in the last decade that our Government has put in concrete measures towards the citizen enterprising and this is where BIUST plays an integral role, not only in terms of provision of much needed manpower but also as a provider and stimulant of innovative solutions needed for today’s smart manufacturing,” said Jacob.
In addition to this, the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo noted that BIUST has embraced innovative entrepreneurship as part of its core mandate. “Innovation is our focus in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, to not only encourage more innovations in the University, but to encourage innovations that bring sustainable development,” he added.
The University has not only embraced innovative entrepreneurship but has enshrined it as its vision which states, ‘to produce world class research and innovation in science, engineering and technology contributing to industry growth and development and advancement of a diversified knowledge-based economy.
It is said that challenging times bring to life the resilience of the human spirit and some of the most important innovations. The advent of COVID-19 brought tremendous challenges to the global economy, and the tourism sector was not spared.
It is during this period, that the Tourism Business Coaching & Mentorship Programme was born. Ms. Tshepiso Mganga upon realising the need for tourism operators to get back on track after the slump leveraged her network to assemble a team of professionals across the various disciplines that are critical for the operation of a tourism enterprise. The programme has to date mentored and coached over 70 tourism and hospitality enterprises in Botswana. The programme imparts practical skills to aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to venture into the tourism and hospitality industry, as well as tourism businesses that are already in operation including but not limited to hotels, lodges, guest houses, mobile safari operators, travel agents, tour operators, and travel photographers. In addition, the benefits to start-ups include the enhancement of awareness on issues such as product development and branding, while existing businesses can use insights to reposition their brands and offerings in the market. The programme covers topics such as understanding the tourism value chain, what is takes to operate lodge in remote area, importance of belonging to an association, moving from idea to action, defining target markets, business planning, financial planning, developing digital marketing strategy, branding tourism business, business insurance, customer service excellence, design & guest experiences, travel show readiness.
The bi-weekly sessions are delivered virtually by several experts and professionals within the tourism industry, with the hope that there will be more in-person sessions in the future. The 3-month programme concluded with educational tours to Chobe Game Lodge. The tour brought practical elements to the programme learning, specifically on running a sustainable facility in a remote area. The tour demonstrated the value of environmental sustainability, with the participants being sensitised on level of investment that goes into developing and running an ecotourism product, including encapsulating aspects of reduce, re-use, and recycle in relation to all inputs of running the business. The participants also got to appreciate the return on investment of ecotourism in terms of reduction of costs of operations, enhanced profitability, as well as conservation of the ecosystem. The tour was sponsored by Desert & Delta Safaris, who have been a valuable partner of the programme.
The Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) is another valuable partner, and this year (2022), sponsored thirteen (13) participants to be part of the programme.
The programme is sponsored by City & Safari International, a Destination Management Company (DMC) established in 2017. City & Safari International specialises in Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions, as well as luxury safari planning & bookings covering Botswana and extending to Cape Town, Livingstone, Victoria, and Namibia.
The next cohort is scheduled for 13 May to 30 July 2023. Further information will be shared on Tourism Business Coaching & Mentorship Programme Facebook and Instagram pages.