Man makes plans, and God laughs. That statement could define how every executive and business owner feels. 2020 was going to be a tough year regardless, but we had plans to navigate it, or so we thought.
The Covid-19 outbreak and resultant global shutdowns were not on anybody's radar in January. Even while faced with the reality in March, none of us could comprehend its impact on business and economies around the world.
Nashua Communications was just as stumped as everyone else. Fortunately, our business is built around distributed resources (staff, data, services) so our solutions made our clients and ourselves more resilient. Navigating the past few weeks have been challenging, but we survived it. Here's how we did it.
Our business is future-proof
Technology is something that many people find hard to grasp, especially when it is continuously changing. It may feel like tech companies are always trying to sell you something that sounds good on paper, but doesn't work on the ground. Nashua Communications is different, and it’s because we use our products.
The products we offer bring real benefits to users. The cloud solutions, collaboration platforms, conference facility equipment and the training all make our operations better. The technology we offer is also made to last; it is continuously updated and matches global standards.
The technology is secure, cost-effective and future-proof. That's why, before the pandemic, we had approximately 20% of our resources on the cloud. We used the cloud for productivity reasons and to support our remote staff. Before the pandemic, our remote team consisted mainly of technicians and sales personnel.
Before the lockdown, we prepared
Nashua Communications, like a lot of organisations out there, had plans for big 2020. We built new partnerships and were looking forward to expanding our products and services. Then we started hearing troubling news in Wuhan. We hoped the Coronavirus would remain contained, much like previous diseases like SARS and Ebola. Sadly, it didn't.
In March, the Coronavirus entered our formal discussions at the executive level. The virus was spreading and had forced cities and nations to shut down their economies. Although we hoped it wouldn't reach South Africa, we had to prepare for it.
Our resolution to stand
Nashua Communications' role in South Africa is essential. That's not a light statement. Our job is to keep organisations and their customers connected. Without communication, nothing can be coordinated, broadcasted or reported back. That can make effectively responding to a crisis difficult before you even get to the issue of managing it.
Understanding the role that we played in the communications industry, we worked on a medium-term solution for both our customers and ourselves. At the time, we were already discussing cloud solutions for more than a year with key customers and were in the planning stage.
How we prepared for the lockdown
When President Ramaphosa announced the initial lockdown, we were ready and prepared.
Our total workforce and operation were accessible from remote work two weeks before the lockdown was announced. Getting our team ready for remote work involved intensive online training and retraining of staff, including room training.
We understood that our customers would also need guidance and assistance to survive the lockdown. So we repurposed our marketing strategy to empower our customers with tools, information and ideas. We continue to send customers these care packages, including having meetings and demonstrations showing them new capabilities of the products we supply them.
Status through the lockdown and currently
Nashua Communications' planning and preparations worked, our services were 100% active and available through the different levels of the lockdown. All our staff is remote, and we are still able to provide full services, such as our engineers who do site visits to clients with problems and onboarding new clients for cloud, on-premise software, or hardware installations.
The solutions we use
Microsoft Teams is the primary collaboration platform that Nashua Communications uses. It forms about 80% of the solution, and the rest is the local DID / Telkom connection, which is supplied by our Cloud Voice solution that is linked to Teams.
All our departments (finance, operations, sales, customer service, etc.) were very active using conferencing and chat, as well as document sharing on the Teams application. Our third party software systems integrated easily with Teams, and we were able to coordinate them on the single Teams platform.
There is a psychological impact from the pandemic and the change it has brought. To keep our staff motivated, we created two chats within Teams for lighter or fun stuff, such as birthdays, to promote interaction among staff members. We also have at least one weekly chat with management and staff. This meeting is primarily held to make sure that everyone knows what is happening with the organisation. We also have Ask Nelson, an employee assistance programme, which helps with family issues.
Into the future
The pandemic has changed Nashua Communications fundamentally. It showed us the importance of remote working and the importance of flexibility so that our organisation can work at any time and anywhere. As restrictions are still in place, we will only go to our offices if it is necessary. Although the change was forced upon us by circumstances, we have confirmed that working remotely is better for some people in the organisation, so they probably will continue to do so.
We are not alone in this view; the pandemic has changed South African workplaces. We foresee organisations adopting technology more than before to help them stay connected and working.
We can help you to make sure that your company is equipped with the tools that it needs in this new remote society. Click on the button below and we’ll get in touch.