We have been discussing with our clients some of the unforeseen circumstances and situations businesses are currently finding themselves in surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. What we have also been observing and inspired by is the adaptation and resiliency of our industry leaders. We recently connected with Chris Chivers, President and founder of Identity Ink, a YYC based industry leader in architectural graphics and films. In addition, we found his thoughts and insights around operating a business in these challenging times to be, well...in a word, bloggable. Read more from our conversation with Chris below.
What has been the most significant impact Identity Ink has experienced since COVID-19 began?
Chris: “The measurable impacts we have seen have been directly to our finance and production departments, but ultimately it is the community amongst our team members that is being most impacted. Lay-offs are something a leader never wishes to face, let alone lay-offs rooted in market-based changes and not an individual’s specific performance. Facing my staff members, looking them in the eye and making the difficult decision to lay them off has sat heavy on my heart since COVID-19 has begun.”
What was interesting to note from our chat with Chris, was that these team members still chose to wake up and attend their 8am, now virtual, team huddle, a testament to the community they have built and created at Identity Ink. Not unlike the culture we have fostered at TWT Group and an area we have been eager to integrate with Fully Managed in. When the call came for companies to make the necessary move to a work from home model, all of Fully Managed simply picked up our laptops, maybe an additional monitor (or 2), and set ourselves up at home. This seamless transition allowed our team to hit the keyboards running and support our clients in their transition.
So what now? Where will you shift your focus during this time?
Chris: “Communication. Communication. And Over-communication. This is truly the way I can support my team right now. It is time to invest in the things that will stabilize Identity Ink during this pandemic and thrust us forward when this is all over. We are metaphorically sitting in that awkward time between Christmas and New Years, where no one knows what day it is and having a drink at noon is acceptable... But in all seriousness, my team is ready “to go to war” in a sense, investing our time and resources in the things that during regular operation would have been impossible. We are implementing a new software that would have typically taken us over 8 months to do, we have been able to streamline this into an 8-week project that ultimately betters our company in the long run. Identity Ink will stick to our status quo, we believe we have a niche market and we are not about to change what we are good at to adapt to the times.”
I have to ask, what tech or software do you believe bettered Identity Ink, in general and through this crisis?
Chris: “We have implemented a few tools at the suggestion of Fully Managed and we are really glad we did. Migrating our team to the Office 365 platform has made a significant difference. Microsoft Teams, has elevated our interactions and has allowed our team to meet safe and securely. In addition, we have really enjoyed the “Slack” platform for inter-company communication. All of the changes we have made over the years, having TWT Group, now Fully Managed, as our IT provider, have really given us a leg up in this global pandemic. We were able to continue operating as usual, with only slight changes to our processes.”
This attention to company culture and dedication to one’s team, displayed in Chris, is a common trend amongst our leaders of today. An element of compassion and empathy should be at the forefront of all operations, both internal and external. However, we have seen more often, when more attention is given to the internal- it radiates outwardly, as it encourages your team to become radical fans for your business, ultimately impacting the external. A moral responsibility to do what is right over simply surviving is the difference we can all have on today’s global climate.