For everything 2020 will be remembered for, pushing us to fully embrace technology is going to be one of its standout moments. Like a Marvel series, during lockdown this year, we were all forced to rethink our ways of working and swiftly propelled into the future. People who feared purchasing goods online had to quickly get over their fears; those who preferred walking into the bank, had to pivot to mobile payments and using banking apps and of course, a good majority of us had to start working from home, spending hours upon hours on Zoom and Microsoft teams – proving that working from home is just as productive as working from the office.
This preamble is the introduction to our future world of work series of articles which will look at the Readiness, Relevance and Reinvention of work, more conscious ways of doing business and more! These topics are important for us SMEs to be aware of so that we develop the right strategies, implement the best systems and processes that will “future-proof” our businesses.
Change is the only constant:
Never in my lifetime has this phrase been more relevant. Early 2019, I recall a meeting with a friend, where I was sharing some ideas that I wanted her to critique. She said something that has stuck with me since “Nokwazi – in order for you to be sustainable in the long run, you need to disrupt yourself.” It starts with us, the business leaders of micro, small and medium business. We need to first recognize that if we do not change, the chances of us surviving in the future are slim. This starts with us – we need to develop and more open-minded, growth mindset. We need to learn new skills and unlearn old habits and practices. We to explore new tools, business models, teams and ways of working. Some of us will be able to pivot and some of us will have to shut down and start new businesses.
Where We Work:
I am sure you have heard the phrase “anytime, anywhere”. I love to travel. Since starting my own business, the opportunity to travel reduced significantly for several reasons – work, affordability, time. At the beginning of lockdown, my business came to a standstill. Work was frozen as everyone was grappling with how to continue operating under lockdown. A few weeks in, clients started calling again and work slowly picked up. And for the last six months – bar two face-2-face brainstorm sessions and training for a group of women with no access to reliable technology and internet – all my work was done virtually. A silver lining for my future traveling plans. As much as I have heard of vagabonding and being a digital nomad – I struggled with pivoting my business to allow this to happen. Now, there is no excuse. I need a laptop, reliable internet, a vpn, access to Zoom, Teams and Hangouts, a reliable Virtual Assistant and trust from my clients that I can deliver from anywhere.
I recognise that this is only applicable to certain types of business. I acknowledge that many brick and mortar establishments cannot easily switch to the above. But times have been brutal and will continue to be and it is going to take a special kind of resilience for businesses to stay the course over the next few years. In fact, the one thing we know for sure about the future world of work is that we don’t know what it will look like.
Stay tuned for more Future World of Work insights.
Nokwazi Mzobe, Founder of Matoyana Media and Author of the Small Business Handbook