We sat down with entrepreneur Michele Romanow to get her expertise on the future of work and the changes Canadians can expect as we push forward post-pandemic.
How do you think entrepreneurship will change in a post-COVID-19 world?
I think that more and more people will turn to entrepreneurship as a career. 2M Canadians started a business in the last year! Today, anyone can set up an e-commerce store. If there was ever a silver lining from the tragedy that is COVID-19 it is that more and more people will be willing to take a chance to do something that they love.
Going forward, how can small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) maintain employee morale and foster employee growth?
Two things I’ve always valued are transparency and trust. When you treat people like responsible adults and give them access to the information they need, they can make really good decisions. At Clearbanc we practice “radical candor,” which lets you challenge someone directly by having uncomfortable conversations that ultimately benefit the employee and the company. It mitigates gossip and helps you move quickly as an organization.
How can businesses maintain synergy and communication between teams that are continuing to work remotely?
This is something I have been working on a lot. At Clearco we went from a company of 6 people in 2015 to surpassing 500 globally to-date. Clear and concise communication is vital for businesses that are scaling up. My biggest fear when we went into lockdowns was that we would lose the synergy and cohesion that comes with working as a team in person. You lose the random collisions and brainstorming sessions that come naturally when we are physically in an office. I have made it a priority to ensure that there is a level of organic experiences and open lines of communication as we continue to work remotely. As a leader, you have to take the extra time to make sure that your people are feeling motivated and part of a team.
As employees revise their skillsets to adapt to the new normal, what have you found particularly eye-opening?
One of the most eye-opening experiences I have had through this all is seeing how resilient our team is. COVID-19 has turned everyone’s world upside down, the level of isolation and fear over the last two years has been unprecedented. Seeing our teams be motivated and fighting for founders every single day shows me that every sacrifice and error that we made along the way was worth it. I don’t know if we will ever get back to a level of normalcy but what I do know is that you have to invest in your people.
What forms of technology do you think are going to be the most important for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) going into the future?
Everyone’s talking about e-commerce, but it’s really about digital commerce now. Everything’s online and businesses need to both minimize physical contact and optimize online interactions to replace the in-person experience. Software is a huge game-changer in all this. As we continue to shift toward a digital economy, software will be automating these tasks and helping SMEs achieve maximum productivity.