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How to transition your team to remote work in times of crisis

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Remote work. Image credit microsoft

Although it is always preferable to establish clear remote-work policies and training in advance, in times of crisis or other rapidly changing circumstances, this level of preparation may not be feasible. Recent developments have left many employees and their managers working out of the office and separated from each other for the very first time.

Fortunately, there are specific, research-based steps that managers can take without great effort to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees, even when there is little time to prepare.

Before we dive into the 4 most important first steps to take to help transition your team to work remotely I quickly want to make mention of this. If you are running a business that is mostly operational or servicing clients offline, thinking these solutions can not be applied to your business – I recommend you start off by reading this article on how to re-position your offline business and digitize your offering. You may be surprised by how much is possible.

4 steps to remote work

Daily huddles

The first thing that is recommend managers do is to establish daily check ins or daily huddles. The morning huddle is a great way to get the team aligned on individual and company priorities for that day. The huddle is a really short meeting to share your number one or two priorities for that day, it is not a place to go over your to-do list. You will share your definition of done on those set priorities so that everyone understands exactly what you will be working on today and when this is considered to be done.

The huddle also functions as a way to recognise hurdles or bottlenecks that may get in the way of progress for that day – which then can easily be resolved on the spot by making use of the collective intelligence present – avoiding people getting stuck for hours trying to fix something all by themselves (which is killing for productivity). And I recommend doing this via a video conferencing tool always to keep that sense of human connection within the team.

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Communication tools

Secondly, provide several different communication options – because you will find that email alone is insufficient. When it’s time for deliberation, strategy sessions, team collaboration sessions or any type of meeting that will take on more than 10 minutes by rule of thumb – use a video conferencing tool. Being able to see the visual cues of meeting participants allows for increased mutual knowledge that can be tapped in to, and will help make meetings more effective.

Of course, there are other circumstances when quick collaboration is more important than visual detail. And for these situations, provide mobile-enabled individual messaging tools like Slack, which can be used for simpler conversations as well as time-sensitive communication. And then you can make use of project management and tracking tools such as Monday, Trello or Asana.

Also make sure to properly onboard team members on how to use these tools. For instance, by making quick instruction video’s on how you wish they engage with the different tools available by using Loom Video’s for instance.

Rules of engagement

It’s very important to set rules of engagement. Remote work becomes more efficient and satisfying when managers set expectations for the frequency, means, and ideal timing of communication for their teams. For example you can decide that, “We use videoconferencing for daily check-in meetings, but we use Instant messaging when something is urgent.” – make sure to communicate that clearly from the get go. But also things like a “video always on” policy for all video conferencing calls – if that is what you would like to see happen, make sure everyone has the opportunity to align with that by communicating this clearly.

Facility management

Last but not least is facility management – make sure to check in with each team member if they have access to the resources they need to work remotely. Aside from a PC or desktop, internet connection and mobile phone – you may find that you have one or two team members who are unable to create a space to work within their homes, and you’ll need to think of other ways to facilitate that.

As I mentioned before, while these are definitely 4 majorly important steps to take – this is not an exhaustive list. Inasmuch as I am more of a long term win kind of girl, I don’t believe that right now is the time to write up new 50 page policies on remote work. I do, strongly believe starting off with these steps will get your team going on the right track quickly and effectively – increasing the chances of us meeting again once we are able to flatten the curve of the corona crisis.

Article by: Kimberly Ofori: An Entrepreneur, Game changer, ScaleUp Consultant, Strategist and Managing Director at Ofori Inc.

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Mohamed Sekkina Digs Dip Into Quick Commerce at Consoleya

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Mohamed Sekkina, General Manager of leading quick commerce platform, talabat mart, hosted the latest “Business Meetup” session organized by Consoleya on “Understanding and Seizing Quick Commerce.” The event took place on Tuesday 26th of July at 6 pm.

“Our biggest pride is not only rooted in introducing quick commerce to the region, but that we are still innovating as the market leader. Leveraging the world-class tech of Delivery Hero and localizing it to fit our local market needs is what enables us to achieve such remarkable results and continue offering an ultra-convenient experience,” said Sekkina during the session.

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Having grown talabat mart’s footprint by 200% and increased profitability by 50% during the last six months, Sekkina shared his hands-on experience and deep knowledge of the market with over 70 attendees from the startup and tech ecosystem.

Mohamed Sekkina took the attendees on talabat mart’s inspiring journey and detailed how the leading platform is able to deliver thousands of orders per day through technology and customer-obsession. Stressing on the importance of being efficient, hyperlocal and adaptive as key to the journey of scaling up and reaching profitability.

The session also touched upon the operational reality of running a quick commerce platform, such as setting-up dark stores on an average of three weeks, innovating to earn consumers’ trust and steadily shifting mindsets in favor of online shopping.

He explored the factors that prepared quick commerce to skyrocket and drew parallels between traditional retail and quick commerce – highlighting that the business model brings businesses closer to customers in unprecedented ways. Which in turn, positions dark stores as sustainable on the business and environment front.  

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Shelter Afrique records US$1.04M in net profit for 2021

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Shelter Afrique Ag. Managing Director Kingsley Muwowo(left) and Shelter Afrique Company Secretary Mrs. Juliette Kavuruganda present a gift to the Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe General (Rtd.) Dr. Incumbent Chiwenga after he officially opened Shelter Afrique 41st AGM currently underway in Victoria Fall, Zimbabwe (Image supplied).

Pan African housing development financier Shelter Afrique has posted an operating profit of US$ 1.04 million up from operating loss of US$ 0.58 million the Company recorded in 2020, backed by impairment recoveries and effective cost control measures.

The Company contained its operating expenses at US$ 8.04 million in 2021 down from US$ 8.44 million in 2020, representing a 10% decline. It also reined in its operating expenses which dropped from US$ 8.35 million in 2020 to US$ 7.71 million in 2021. The Company’s gross income, however, declined slightly to US$12.09 in 2021, down from US$13.94 recorded in 2020.

Addressing Shareholders at the 41st Annual General Meeting held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Shelter Afrique Chairman Mr. Ephraim Bichetero said the transformational initiatives undertaken by the Company and its business’ resilience enabled the Company to weather the COVID storm.

“This profit continues to build on Shelter Afrique’s commitment to returning to full Financial Sustainability, one of the Company’s 3 Strategic Goals, along with Enhancing Shareholder Value & Development Impact and Organisational Sustainability. I wish to commend the board, management and staff for their continued efforts towards achieving the desired results ahead of time,” Mr. Bichetero said.

The AGM which kicked off on July 25 under the theme: Climate Change and the Built Environment, in reference to the Glasgow Conference of Parties (COP26), will close on July 30.

Financial Viability

In the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, the Company projected a return to financial viability by 2020 and overall financial sustainability and profitability by 2023, a feat that it achieved two years ahead of schedule.

“Our 2021 financial performance, despite the macroeconomic and socio-political environment, is an indication that the turnaround plan recommended by the board and approved by shareholders continues to be the north-star on our course to returning to financial stability and viability. As management, we are encouraged by this and look forward to the challenge of the coming years,” said Shelter Afrique Group Ag. Managing Director and Kingsley Muwowo.

During the year under review total assets declined by 5 per cent from US$ 176.68 million in 2020 to US$ 167.31 Million in 2021, attributed to the 100 per cent reduction in settlement of the total debt following the repayment of US$ 34.71 Million.

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Liquidity decreased by 33% per cent from US$ 47.41 million in 2020 to US$ 31.59 million in 2021, attributed to significant debt servicing payments on the CFA Bond and DRA debt amounting to US$ 35.87 million. However, the liquidity ratio still remained strong, closing at 19 per cent, which is 4 percent points above the minimum threshold of 15 per cent. Shareholder Funds increased by 19 percent from US$135.74Million in 2020 to US$ 161.60 Million in 2021 due to the new capital subscriptions of US$24.85 million and the profit of US$ 1.04 Million for the year. This increase brings the total paid-up capital by 15 per cent, from US$ 157.29 million in 2020 to US$ 182.14 million in 2021.

“We are grateful to our shareholders for their unwavering support through the continued capitalisation of the Company, with US$ 24 million received in 2021 against a target of US$ 17 million. The receipt of these funds was achieved amidst severe fiscal constraints, and we are conscious of this,” Mr. Muwowo said.

Mr. Muwowo added that the Company would continue to review various capital raising options, including new equity capital and debt options through the issuance of local currency bonds to develop and deepen Africa’s capital markets.

“We recently completed a debut ₦46 billion (US$110.7 million) Series 1 Fixed Rate Senior Unsecured Bond Issuance in Nigeria’s capital market under its ₦200 billion (US$481.3 million) bond issuance programme for housing and urban development in Nigeria.  We plan similar bond issuance in East African markets including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda,” Mr. Muwowo said.

New Managing Director

Meanwhile, Shelter Afrique shareholders have approved the appointment of Thierno-Habib Hann as the company’s new Managing Director. Mr. Hann will replace Mr. Andrew Chimphondah who left the company in February. Mr. Hann has extensive international experience in housing finance, capital markets and structured finance, set-up and management of investment funds with banking and multilateral institutions.  Currently, he is the Asia-Pacific Lead for housing finance & capital markets at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), based in Bangkok and previously in charge of Africa and the Middle East, based in Nairobi.

“The process was very competitive, and Mr. Hann was selected based on merit and competence. He is expected to strengthen governance, be an embodiment of our values and drive the investment strategy of the Company focused on delivering large-scale affordable housing,” Mr. Bichetero said.

Mr. Hann will join the organization once he completes his current contract with the International Finance Corporation. In the interim Mr. Muwowo will continue to serve as Acting Managing Director.

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Fitch revises ARC Limited’s Outlook to Positive; affirms IFS Rating at ‘BBB+’

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Fitch Ratings has revised African Risk Capacity (ARC) Limited’s Outlook to Positive from Stable and has also affirmed its Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) rating at ‘BBB+’ and Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘BBB’.

Announcing the news, the credit rating agency commented that this Outlook revision reflects ARC Limited’s “strong progress in meeting its development objectives, which if sustained, could support a stronger company profile assessment within the next two years”.

It added: “In Fitch’s view, the improvement in ARC’s premium base, risk pool and claim pay-outs enhances the company’s geographic diversification, franchise and operating scale. In addition, the improved reach of the company’s development activities is likely to further increase its importance to sponsors.”

Says Lesley Ndlovu, ARC Limited CEO: “We are delighted with this revision of our Outlook to Positive which reflects the work we have done to raise our company profile and improve portfolio diversification.

“We are confident that the support from our sponsors will only grow as we expand ARC Limited’s impact on the African continent in terms of our development activities and the number of parametric insurance pay-outs we have been making in 2022 to respond to cyclones and droughts.”

In addition to its strong growth in gross written premiums (GWP) in 2021, ARC Limited’s support from and oversight by the German development bank KfW through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) were cited as reasons for the revision.  

ARC Limited’s key strength, adds Fitch, is its capital position. “We regard the returnable capital provided by KfW/BMZ and the FCDO of USD70 million at end-2021 as fully loss-absorbing, and consequently treat it as equity capital when assessing capitalisation and leverage. On this basis, ARC scored ‘Extremely Strong’ on Fitch’s Prism Factor-Based Capital Model based on end-2021 figures, unchanged from 2020. Fitch expects that further capital support could be made available as ARC continues to achieve its development goals.

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ARC’s regulatory capitalisation is strong, with a Bermuda enhanced capital requirement ratio of 796% at end-2021 (2020: 1,628%),” it said.

“While our product portfolio is concentrated, dominated mainly by drought insurance, we are actively diversifying this. To that end, we introduced tropical cyclone cover in 2020 and are also expanding our offering to cover outbreak and epidemic, and flooding risks. In addition, we are expanding our insurance offering to non-sovereign entities and working to increase the number of African countries covered in our risk pool. Which we believe will help to elevate our standing in future Fitch ratings,” Ndlovu concludes.

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