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Business Lessons Learnt from Lockdown Due to The Global Pandemic

We pride ourselves on having a positive mindset, I for one, always believe there’s something to be learned from every situation, especially unfavorable ones. After all, those are the ones that compel us to find creative solutions.

Although we have a very traditional approach to business in Nigeria, this disruption to normal operations is an opportunity for us to evolve our business practices and increase productivity all together.

It’s times like these that make or break us. The way we choose to view situations shapes our reality.
We challenge everyone to view this change as an opportunity for improvement and motivation.

Anyone who has worked in our dear country would have come across the countless jokes about our ‘Meeting Culture’ which leaves many of us thinking “This meeting could have been a phone call” or “I just survived another meeting that could have been an e-mail.”
Jokes aside, I have come to realize that to a large degree, closing a deal successfully here requires a sometimes extended ‘courting process.’

Having almost become accustomed to the rush from our office to clients’ offices, navigating our way through traffic to try and make all the meetings we have set out for that day. We initially met the situation with surprise, the ease at which we were able to transition to working collaboratively on Google docs, having digital meetings through Skype, Zoom and more.

These tools have always been readily available to us.
Yet, although we as a company had initially attempted to adopt them as part of our regular business dealings, we found that less than 20% of the enterprises we dealt with were comfortable with these practices.

To date, traditionalists will say it is still considered only appropriate for younger companies to operate these digital solutions.

Nevertheless, after our initial disbelief, We then questioned our own understanding of our business culture.

After all, let’s face it, if history has taught us anything, it’s that Nigerians are resilient! The entrepreneurs here are some of the most enterprising people we have ever met, adapting to all kinds of challenging situations.

Therefore, this truly seamless transition should not come as a complete shock.

Upon consulting with some of our associates, we met with great joy the news that most of them are planning on adopting these modern procedures moving forward.

That’s when we had our epiphany.
This is it!
This is the remedy that this situation has provided us with the ‘panadol’ to one of our largest headaches.

Clearly what significantly causes doing business in Lagos to be so stressful. The Lagos Traffic!

This is the reason our meetings barely ever start on time… it adds to the constant stress we live under in our attempts to micromanage employees, suppliers, third-party contractors, etc.

On a larger scale, it can be considered as a sub-branch of the infamous phenomenon known to us as ‘African Time’.

This reminded us of an interesting article we read by Business Day in 2018 which estimated that:
“Lagos commuters lose 75% of weekly working hours to traffic!”

Furthermore, CNN covered the subject again in 2019 in an article which cited: “Lagosians spend an average of 30 hours in traffic each week — or 1,560 annually — while drivers in Los Angeles and Moscow traffic spent only 128 and 210 hours respectively in the whole of 2018.”

And went on to mention a tweet by a disgruntled commuter Yinka Ogunnubi : “Left my house by 5:30 a.m., got to work at 9:10 a.m. This is no longer work, it is suffer-head. Dear Boss, Can I work from home?”

That question has been ringing in our ears ever since. Why can’t employees just work from home?

Time management is a crucial skill in operating a business successfully and living an overall productive life.

As mentioned in a 2011 study by global journals: By reducing worker productivity, traffic hits both people and firms.
This way, it also reduces overall economic output. Understanding this, the Lagos State Governor suggests that traffic jams cost the city ₦42 billion each year (in 2016) and this figure continues to grow till date.

If companies are able to integrate these digital methods of doing business into their operations. It will help them manage their time more efficiently, increase their productivity, reduce waste, and lower their running costs.

We at Siza have vowed to be part of the solution. We are excited to be able to offer companies of all sizes the support they need to shift to the digital management of their business operations.

The success of any organisation is based on their ability to adapt and evolve to changing times. This is the future of all businesses and Siza is ready help to guide companies to the next level in a new economic environment.

Article by Isabella Davanzo
CEO and founder of SIZA Creative Consulting LTD. A digital advertising agency with global operations based in Lagos, NIGERIA.

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