Professional Development during Covid-19
Given COVID-19, Farmanco (like everyone) has had to evolve how we work and think and how we continue to offer support and advice to all our clients.
Farmanco closed all of our offices in March, with consultants working from home (we have since relaxed that with eased restrictions). Given that we operate over 11 offices and our consultants are spread out across regional WA and NSW, in many respects we’ve always operated as a ‘virtual company’. That is, much of our communication is over the phone and we meet altogether in person only a couple of times a year.
With the requirement to stay at home as much as possible, we are now used to using new communication technologies more extensively.
Over April 2020, our agronomy and management teams had several days of professional development. This is always an opportunity for our teams to get together and share new techniques and developments, often bringing in external speakers to talk about new products and services.
Of course, over Covid-19, we decided that meeting in-person was not a responsible course of action, and we looked at alternatives; even before the more stringent social distancing requirements were bought in.
For several years, we’ve used video conferencing for a lot of adhoc meetings, both within Farmanco and with partners in other states and other countries and we have used various platforms: Zoom, Skype, TeamViewer, BlueJeans etc.
With the move to a phone system that lets us operate the business from anywhere, we now use Microsoft Teams for video conferencing and document collaboration.
Teams has worked well in smaller groups. However, 2020 has been the year to use it to connect the entire company; 31 people, including one of our Philippines developers and external presenters. Despite the fact that we had people on NBN, mobile, and satellite connections, it all worked surprisingly well.
This year, we discussed how we could better support all our clients through the COVID-19 situation, and had external presenters talk to us about data protection and security, as well as looking at making improvements to Farmanco Facts.
After the ‘all of company’ meeting, teams were able to break off into smaller, separate ‘rooms’ for other discussions and talks from external contributors.
These team meetings were able to collaborate on a single document, and access external presenters, from both technology companies and chemical and fertiliser companies.
We probably got as much accomplished (if not more) during this ‘virtual PD’ than we normally achieve in-person. We were able to record most meetings. Therefore, if anyone missed out they can watch / listen at a later date.
The management team even managed an after-PD round of drinks!
While video collaboration and document-sharing technology doesn’t beat face-to-face meetings with our clients, after a short while you do forget about the tech.
In the environment of COVID-19 and isolation, we now use video collaboration and document sharing technology with our clients, for one-on-one meetings – management reviews and agronomy plans.
While COVID-19 has forced us to do things differently, that hasn’t necessarily mean’t a step backward. The situation forced people to innovate. Farmanco will try to ensure we keep you and your businesses at the forefront.
If the choice is between hunkering down and just trying to get through this – or to innovate and try different things – Farmanco intends to be in the latter group!
Stay safe all!