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Thoughts on Re-opening your Business by Alba Manaj

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Alba Manaj, Founder, Albaslist

Alba Manaj started her first business as Chartered Accountant in her native country Albania in 2000. 80% of the clients were construction companies.

In 2005 she and her family immigrated to Canada.

In 2010 she took over the construction business left to her by her husband who had died which she continued for the next several years. During that time she experienced firsthand many of the problems that other construction contractors, investors, and homeowners were faced.


1. How can businesses smooth the transition of reopening again in the coming weeks or months?  

There is a point where we will reopen. The way we work will differ. We have to educate ourselves to get used to the new rules. Using digital technology will help in getting things done in a safer way.

The infrastructure already exists. Employees can work remotely by using VPN and other tools. Most of the documents can be saved in clouds, Google drive, etc. Employees can work from every location, once they have internet access and computer or other hardware. Face to face discussion can be replaced by communication through Skype, Zoom, and conference calls. Screen sharing is also a useful tool to convey information.

Much more needs to be done to respond to the new changes. We have to invest in software to respond to market changes. For example, The two parties that Albaslist connects used to meet more in person before, now they do not.  We have to customize the software to accommodate clients’ new needs.

The most important aspect is mentally adapting. We have to convince ourselves that we have to change the way we work. 

Some of the other rules would be;

  • Reduce density, by having fewer people working at the same space.
  • Be flexible with working schedules, not everybody has to work, traditional 9-5; have some afternoon and evening shifts.
  • Evaluate employees by performance rather than by the number of hours they spent.  Everybody will be encouraged to bring their best, in their own way.
  • Communicate more often, encourage everybody to participate; they will not feel isolated and ignored.

In our economy approximately:

  • 30% of the workforce can work from home
  • 70% of the workforce has jobs that can’t be done from home.

There are other rules that apply to 70% such as keeping distance, washing hands, wearing masks, etc. 

2. What are the differences between business operations pre and post-COVID and what is our advice to small businesses adapting to the new normal?

Pre-COVID                                                                      

  • Meeting in person had no limitations.
  • There was no need to wear gloves, masks, sanitize, etc.
  • We were more effective before, when we went shopping, at banks  etc, we got in promptly.
  • Many businesses in the entertainment industry operated normally.

Post-COVID 

  • Use of digital technology to communicate, instead of meeting in person.
  • We have to wear gloves, masks, sanitize more often, etc.
  • Plan to spend more time, when we go shopping, at the bank, other places, keep  distance, wait inline
  • Unfortunately, we have to give up some of our leisure activities.

My advice in adapting to the new normal is:

  • Change our minds regarding the way we work.
  • Waiting and doing nothing has finished, we have to act, and work as per the new rules.
  • Invest in businesses by implementing new technologies to respond to market needs.

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