Managing Teams Through COVID Disruption and Adjusting to ‘New Norms’ with David Prichard
About The Nile
Derek Gallimore talks with David Prichard, country manager of The Nile Group. An established company for over 15 years, The Nile is one of Australia and New Zealand’s leading e-commerce enterprise. David has also been a guest in previous episodes of the Outsource Accelerator podcast.
The online retail industry has seen its boom in the past 12 months when the worldwide lockdowns started. Though it had its share of challenges and hardships faced during these times.
In this episode, Derek and David will discuss how the pandemic affected the online retail industry, from the increased demand to the bouts of running an operation. David will also highlight the advantages and downsides of running a remote operation.
The online retail industry amid pandemic
The Nile is a Business to Consumer website that primarily sells books, as well as toys and baby accessories. It is an Australian firm that is focused on consumer retail. It branched out to the Philippines, where they have their in-house operation for back office tasks (like customer support) for The Nile.
Due to the lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, David said that they “tend to see our fortunes rise and fall with the degree of lockdown in Australia.” For example, when Victoria went into lockdown, they saw a spike in sales as people are stuck at home taking orders.
The online retail industry greatly benefited from the lockdowns. David said, “the entire online [retail] industry saw an extraordinary surge as the effect of the pandemic.” It is “terrible” that some people have had pandemic-caused hardships. However, the lockdowns “brought the online retail industry forward by several years, which literally kind of doubled the market.”
There are some logistical challenges, sure, but David noted that they “do not have anything really to complain about how the last 12 months have gone.”
Pros and cons of working from home
The work from home arrangement is bound to create various impacts on a company’s operations. As country manager for The Nile, David enumerated the following pros and cons of employees working from home:
Pros of working from home
- There’s an additional labor capacity, as employees don’t have a commute to worry about.
- Better psychological state for employees, as they get extra hours of sleep “because they didn’t have the stress of that commute.”
- Improved work-life balance.
Downsides of working from home
- David said that there’s negative psychological aspects of working from home as well, due to anxieties regarding COVID-19, plus other health concerns.
- Additional responsibilities for employees as they balance work and life challenges.
- Morale issues and natural decline in productivity.
David said that while employees “like the benefits of work from home, they do miss, the clear delineation, the barrier between work and home life.”
Building new teams and processes in a remote work environment
Building new teams and processes amid the pandemic can also be quite an experience. According to David, one great benefit, which he discovered is being able to record demonstrations, which they didn’t generally do when they were training people in the office.
However, the challenge is being unable to have an effective “side by sides.” Training is “much harder to do if you’re not in the same room and looking over somebody’s shoulder. It just isn’t quite the same when you’re looking at screen sharing,” said David. While the company can compensate regarding this process for now, he said it’s “just not quite the same when you’re watching someone remotely.”
For now though, The Nile is innovating and trying to replicate the office experience. They have lockdown lunches, where “everyone would have lunch at the same time [while in] a great big video call. And then they would have trivia like the various trivia games you can do.”
Post-pandemic, the The Nile country manager said, “One thing that’s for sure is that we don’t really anticipate ever going back to the way it was before and having everybody in one office working nine to five. We’ll move on to a different phase.”
For those who’d like to get in touch with David, feel free to reach out via LinkedIn.
Facebook: David Prichard