By now Corona Virus or COVID-19 has spreaded all around the world and have been doing severe damages mostly in Italy, United States Spain and so on, recording 900 + deaths per day. Sadly this will continue spreading for a while. The only possible thing anyone can do is to stay home and manage social distances, and hygiene practices.
As a digital agency business we are not immune to this, thought we can work from home and have flexible working hours etc, we feel the economical impacts as any other business.
I thought of sharing what we are planning on for the next 6 - 12 months to stay in business and manage our teams.
Health & Safety is number one
Health & Safety is the most important thing at this moment. Do everything you can to keep away from social gatherings. The biggest thing you can do here is to let everyone work from home. But imagine things like essential supplies, medicine, etc. You just cant lock the doors and stay in. Try and get as much as the supplies via delivery services, limit down visiting the shops, and make lists before you go out to be as quick as possible. Think of making maximum use of what you have got at home. Reduce the food waste, try making use of the gardens if you have any.
Being Asians we pretty much can grow many fruits and vegetables in a small garden. Do that, it helps you to engage with kids, if you are depressed it helps looking at how plans grow, also some exercise and fresh air.
Team is the most important asset
For a digital agency like us the team is the most important thing, all our projects are possible because of what every member in the team brings in. If we lose the teams or lose confidence in teams when things picks up we wont be able to bounce back in. However the teams has a cost too. Finding the right balance between the costs and managing the team is important. I made a few decisions to help us manage our team.
Reduce the costs spent on managing the office
Cut down a lot of non essential bills
Decide on how we can all survive this disaster
Find the ideas we have been always thinking about which never got time to really work on and work with the team to fill in the free developer hours
As a leader speak all the good things
Be open and share your insights with the teams and build confidence in them we have a plan to bounce back in. Basically don't keep them in the dark and make assumptions on the future of the business.
Think of new opportunities
In our case we have been making destination websites, booking systems, ticketing systems and theatre websites a lot. None of these businesses function now, which means no cashflow. However we saw an opportunity of people seeking for essential online delivery providers, the search volumes for food, medicines / pharmacies has rocketed up, and we made a database quickly enough to have these listings. After this crisis settles down we will have a lot of potential customers / leads in that area.
One thing to believe is that when people get used to something it is natural for them to keep using it, if that makes their lives easy. This is one of the good times where you can quickly find and idea and build systems which can then go to the markets.
Speak to friends, old work mates etc (over the phone for sure)
Its one good time to catch up with things, make use of that time to connect with friends, previous employees, past clients etc. Just casual chats with these people. Most importantly you'd realise that is not only you are facing this crisis, but everyone else. If you are depressed over it will sure help you to come out of it. Sometimes these can also lead to new opportunities.
Spend time with your family
Spend more time with your kids, wife, parents and so on. Imagine the amount of time where we haven't had enough time to discuss things about life with them. This is the perfect time to catch up. There was a time I was reading books everyday with my 4 year old boy, and I got busy. Now I have started doing it again and also a lot of gardening with him. I can teach him things like how to plan a seed, how to get the ground ready to plan anything, etc. Play some music, I am keen guitarist, and I've been learning a lot of classical guitar solos during this time. It finally feels like I am human again.
Don't watch a lot of news
Well its sad but all the news is about how many people were positive today, and how many dead, or someone has been irresponsible and spread more virus. Do you want to hear these? Come on NO!!. If you are to stay positive just ignore them. You cant do anything by following these news.
The greatest thing
For me the greatest thing about business is that this is the time it lets me think of how tore-start. Make short term / long term plans, create plans to utilize the teams on how to achieve those. Build great software. Try to re-imagine your business, and double down on new opportunities.
I thought of writing this post as I know for sure there are other small scaled digital agencies like us who have similar problems. I wanted to share my two cents and what I do to get over with it, and to stay strong. We all hope these times will pass on soon.