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Like most Australian businesses operating in an ever-changing landscape, IM is actively developing strategies to cope with disasters. For the first time, the agenda for our office team meeting this week included a discussion on COVID-19. While we’re not trying to submit to hysteria (toilet paper anyone?), we do believe that we have a responsibility to be prepared. We are not a large multinational, we are a very small business that literally has NO room to wear a significant drop in productivity. 

I thought it would be useful to share some of the things we’ve been doing over the past twelve months to be prepared for an external environment that continues to be challenging. 

1. Getting organised

Over the past twelve months IM has been developing a much more meaningful project management system. As IM has grown and branched out, developing a system that captures the type of data we need to stay organised and productive has been vital. 

While it might seem like a ‘no brainer’ to some, the organic growth of IM has meant that there has been lots of moving parts, not always clearly defined. “Getting stuff out of my head” and into proper processes and systems has been challenging but rewarding. It’s also going to give us more efficiency and better clients and customers experiences. 

While we’re still ironing out the kinks developing this system has meant that our small but growing team understands where they are at every point inside a project. If one team member falls ill, we are now able to provide them with back-up to ensure projects can keep going.  

2. Cloud-first strategy

One of the most difficult things in transforming from a one person in charge operation into a leadership team of three has been access to information. Using our new organisation system, we’re gradually transitioning to solely using Google Drive for all company files. IM has used the Google Suite since its foundation, but we’ve also used a physical server, Dropbox, USBs, hard drives, etc. 

By having all our data in one place, and all accessible no matter the location, we are able to prevent information being locked up in quarantine areas and limiting downtime. It also allows people who may not yet but sick but required to be quarantined to continue to work from whatever location they find themselves, even if they were in another state or country.

3. Working from home

In our first COVID-19 meeting we discussed what we will do in the event that our team will be required to work from home for an extended period. We are working to ensure that all team members have access to the cloud, and with all our software cloud-based already, our downtime should be minimised in the event of an emergency. 

The tools we use on a daily basis include: the full Google Suite, Trello, Invoice Ninja, Slack, Clockify, and Zoom.

4. Communication 

With the plethora of communication tools available to us, we quickly fell into some bad habits. We found ourselves communicating via SMS, Facebook Messenger, Signal, Instagram DMs, Twitter DMs. It was confusing and unproductive. With discipline we’re gradually forcing ourselves to keep all work communications in Slack and/or Trello. 

By streamlining our internal communications, this means if one of our team falls ill, we can simply add new people to relevant Slack threads and/or Trello boards and cards. 

We take our role as directors and employers seriously. Our role is to work in the best interest of the company and our team. None of our new systems are working completely perfectly yet. We’re still developing them. But both the bushfires and COVID-19 has prompted us to get serious about how we’re organising our work, where we’re storing our data and other assets, and understanding how we can maintain productivity when other parts of society are under pressure.