Agility in the Face of COVID-19

Updated: Apr 19

On 13 March the Government of Kenya received confirmation of the first case of Coronavirus. Globally, the impact of the virus is still unfolding. The government, among other measures, asked that government offices, businesses and companies allow employees that provide non-essential services, to work remotely.

This has been seen by many as a set of early yet increasingly tight measures to control the spread of the coronavirus. The jury is still out regarding what disruption to businesses is likely to happen. From the experience in other markets such as China and Italy, the disruption to life and work is likely going to be far-reaching. Equity markets in many countries have already responded, with massive erosions of investor value being reported. The Nairobi Securities Exchange has not been spared the brunt of similar erosions.

An important learning from the corona virus pandemic (and other crises before it) is that businesses must play a leading role in mitigating rapid change. This requires agility and resilience in responding to unpredictable events.

In times like these, successful companies have been those that adopt an agile and flexible culture. To build agility and flexibility, companies must re-evaluate their systems, processes, and infrastructure. Crisis time is a difficult time for many employees and other people that interact with your company. Common questions at such times include: Who are the relevant people I need to work with? Where is the information I need to do my work? What tools do I have at my disposal? Can I still contribute to my team?

In this period and going forward, work will change from being a place to be a mind-set. From something done during a fixed period to something done almost all the time. From something physical to something that is about information creation, and utilization.

Much of this agility requires a change in the style, place and time of working. While working remotely assures an element of productivity during this period, it has been found to cause workers to become disconnected and isolated. Successful workers in these times will be those that use virtual collaboration tools to connect with others in a remote, agile ecosystem. And to continue making contributions to their organizations.

Companies will be compelled to provide tools that foster virtual collaboration. It not only means providing mobile computing devices, but also aligning software tools with a project-centric model. These tools provide a cloud-based, central location to access relevant project data and information, while also supporting the community of workers and stakeholders. Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Monday and Slack, for instance, are based on channels that frequently focus on a specific topic, project or thread and help consolidate contextual information.

Virtual work and collaboration immediately require new skills and methods for working. Being agile requires a holistic approach to learning. Good technology is that which makes learning a natural part of everyday tasks. This will reduce the time employees are physically or cognitively separate from work.

Clever and agile companies will be those that deliver a seamless process from the minute a meeting is booked to its post-meeting notes. Integration also means that all meeting participants can benefit from this seamless experience, regardless of their location. This seamless engagement helps people share information and feel part of a community. Good collaboration tools must be simple to use and relevant to a particular task – otherwise, there will be barriers to adoption by the intended users. Teleconferencing tools like Skype, Zoom, and others can be a starting point for this.

But do not forget the security of your data and information. This must become the concern of everyone that accesses your organization’s data and systems. Good IT security, data security, and systems management must become a central concern of users at all levels. As a minimum, any organization that is looking to develop an agile workforce should plan for tools for replicating, vaulting, backing up, and archiving data.

This article was written by our ICT Solution & Strategy Expert Charles who leads Cygnite a business transformation and technology consulting firm that helps business transform their ICT infrastructure.

If you have any feedback or inquiries write to him via this link >> Email Chalres