This article will not follow the generic pattern of what most companies have been publishing in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and how they were not prepared for it. Instead, I want to say that Quantum Mob has been quite observant about news circulating around COVID-19 since January and has been gradually making preparations. We have been speaking with our advisors since 2019 to begin planning for a possible recession in 2020. Despite this, we couldn't have fully anticipated the rate at which COVID-19 would affect businesses. This article will aim to hone in on the challenges we will be facing in the coming months and possibly the remainder of the year. We will discuss our solutions to those problems, and how they will allow us to exit the year with the same positive momentum that we entered it with.
By now we’ve all seen that businesses are reluctant to spend amidst this economic uncertainty. There are rumours of companies in the Toronto tech ecosystem being negatively affected. It appears that the entire industry could be reshaped, where some companies will be decimated, some will survive, but only the most resilient will thrive.
Leaders are either slowing down the hiring or laying off members of their teams. Combined with game-time decisions around product direction, these abrupt changes in priorities are leaving delivery teams with a bit too much on their plates. They are adapting and looking to pull levers around flexible augmentation to complete spurts of work and hit deadlines. A culture of experimentation will be crucial for navigating to success.
Remote Working Challenges
Some of the obstacles I’ve seen in the tech community have to do with a lack of experience with effective remote work or a lack of procedures to maintain a happy and healthy remote working body. If remote work is new to you or your team, I suggest popping over to GitLab's article, "Resources for companies embracing remote work". Remote working has been a part of the culture at Quantum Mob ever since we introduced a work from home policy which allowed our people to start working from home up to 2 days per week. This week, the team has been more responsive on our communication channels, jumping on video calls and over-communicating as necessary. Spirits are high and everyone is approaching this as an exciting challenge.
The short term hurdles may be related to learning how to empower an entirely remote team, but the long term challenge will be wellness and morale. Leaders will need to learn to be highly attuned to the mental states of the individuals on their team while actively encouraging a work-life balance.
Outside of Tech
Some of my fellow entrepreneurs in non-tech industries are facing a completely different set of challenges from those in the software world. My friends applauded the tech community for running such forward-thinking companies, and rather than reciprocating their sentiments, I thought how easy it was for us to pretend to be progressive about our COVID response if all we needed was a laptop and the cloud to run a business. Cloud migration has allowed tech companies to scale so effortlessly we forget to reflect on the days of maintaining physical infrastructure and appreciate the operational enablement. I think about my friends, and how earlier, more proactive digitization of their businesses could have influenced their response this year and how it may have affected their culture.
The great "remote work experiment of 2020" is going to be a massive challenge for the majority of us. For others, this will be an exploration of their path to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation and Enablement
Digital transformation is no longer a flavour of the month idea, rather a necessary overhaul for most industries. In times like these, those who have successfully completed initiatives of digital transformation are undoubtedly a lot more comfortable than their competitors. As we are witnessing during this outbreak, companies are expressing curiosity in digitization to keep going and rethinking their business model by fast-tracking digital transformation to be future-proof.
Quantum Mob has undergone massive growth while remaining bootstrapped over the life of the company by focussing on quality and client experience, and consistently improving every aspect of our company. A focus on culture will enable our delivery and a focus on experimentation will help us optimize.