Technology grants us the ability to develop and expand our business in many ways. Whether it is hardware supporting engineers, software advancing sales or the customer communication tools we build, technology helps us to grow. But in a pandemic, things can be very different, and our technological dependence can become an obstacle to overcome.
In the second week of March, the first cases of COVID-19 began to appear in Kenya. As cases increased, measures were implemented to keep citizens safe such as the closing of public and non-essential facilities. Particularly challenging was the immediate implementation of these lockdown measures alongside a 7PM curfew without any time to prepare. As in other parts of the world, these changes impacted how companies operated and how their employees worked.
For Mantrac’s team of Internal Sales Reps in the area there were several challenges to overcome if they were to work remotely.
Firstly, their computers were not self-contained laptops, but desktop units with separate monitors, mice and keyboards. Secondly, the commercial internet connection in the office was superior in terms of speed, reliability and security compared to those found in residential areas. Finally, the office has a stable and consistent UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), so that in the case of a grid power failure, it allows the office to continue working.
Each day, each member of the ISR team has a target to make 25 calls to customers, these are conducted using internet calling software, or VOIP as it is also known. In the switch to a home working setup, they would need to undertake this same level of work, with the same level of security.
Making it work
To make this happen the IT team needed to move swiftly and efficiently.
The first step was to get company desktop computers from the office to the homes of the ISR team and purchase Wi-Fi adaptors for each machine. Additionally, the team would need a crash course in setting up a computer and adjusting it for usage within a home setting. The sales team managers assisted by allowing sales vehicles to be used to transport the computers to each home.
Once this was done, the main challenges were unstable power and internet connection in the domestic settings. The IT team ended up troubleshooting issues which were not within their usual scope, which required using their own resources.