IIG News

Roots and Wings Mentor and Mentee Catch Up

Suren Kasil is a Director at  XINIX Insurance Brokers and is mentoring Tshepo Mokhoabane a Broker Servicing Consultant from Discovery Business Insure.

Suren shares what will change for him as we prepare to enter a new era of working:

Covid has had a catastrophic impact on all our lives. So, it is almost difficult to really understand the after effects that will follow suit for many years to come. One thing for sure, if Covid did not happen, the “forced” remote working would not have been possible. We have been talking about working from home for the last 20 years, if not longer. It remained a dream until the recent pandemic. We had to suddenly adapt without any notice to working, teaching, learning and schooling all from home.

One of the key factors that helped us get through this is the use of technology, whether it be the Zoom or MS Teams virtual meetings to webinars to spending good quality time with the family, this all kept us going strong. In the first few months in lockdown I seemed to have coped well, however by June (3 months into lockdown) I was getting restless in my home and routine. I then decided to get back to the office on the 1st of July where I currently find that having the flexibility of working from both home and work is more productive. Having all your systems, PBX in the cloud we are no longer confined to one place and can easily access our work documents, have virtual meetings on your cell phone or laptop anywhere in the world.

This hybrid version of working is where I hope we would move toward thus providing a better work and home balanced lifestyle.

 

 Tshepo shares how the “New Normal” has changed his working environment:

After the lockdown we’ve had to adapt to new ways of everything. For starters the constant run back to your desk for your mask, the never-ending sanitizing, social distancing and the wary gazes you get whenever you cough because of a tickle on your throat, which are all but reminders that the environment has changed and we also need to adapt. Luckily our work has been digital so most of our work was not severely affected aside from the occasional struggle for connection or the quality of service reducing due to not hearing your broker when they call. Which highlighted the value a risk management team that not only has foresight but also is able to conjure up plans of action in little to no time.

We really must be proud of the creative and innovative people who saw the silver lining in the midst of the storm when they came up with thermo detection cameras, different unmanned sanitizing stations, screening apps to name a few which really gave a lot more confidence for safety when we went back to the office. The new norm gave us something that most of us have never had before which was the privilege of having to work from home. Which was totally different to the old structured times and environment that in truth conducive for productivity. So as much as time was not wasted in commuting it also meant that we individually needed to discipline ourselves to be on time for everything and fighting the constant temptation either stop and watch soccer, take a nap, watch a movie midday, or really whatever we felt like doing which without systems or old fashioned self-discipline really affected the levels of productivity. With this though came a lot of fatigue as people basically worked from dawn till late at night to just keep up. Aside from all this, the experience has been an eye opener as the dual approach to working could actually work for the productivity of the company in instances of overtime and projects where the normal day to day productivity is still required.

 

The team shares how they are keeping themselves motivated while working remotely:

Suren: Spending quality time with my family and keeping them safe during this uncertain time really helped to keep me centred. My other motivation was developing an App to solve the Covid Symptom Screening process which was achieved in record time by using QR Codes. I also made it my key focus to learn a few new skills during this period, from learning to play PS4 FIFA games to making the best steaks and seafood dishes. A bit of an achievement for me who had little to no experience in the kitchen!!

Tshepo: Honestly, as soon as the news that virus has hit our shores got out there was a lot of panic and everything being painted in dreary picture. And yes, it was and seems bad but when we actually looks at the positive side of things…the lockdown offered us ample time to renew the bond with our families and close friends. Where we got back to reconnecting with our values and a chance to look back and reflect then plan on what we would like our future to look like taking into account the everchanging environment. So more than anything, I am thankful that the path looks a lot clearer and I have employed booked and meditation practices that ensures that I never drift from course, spiritually and development wise.


Justin Brice is a Technical Consultant from Discovery Insure and is mentoring
Monicca Mamashela a Broker Service Consultant from Discovery Insure.

 Justin shares what will change for him as we prepare to enter a new era of working:

We all believed that 2020 was the year for great things, WOW were we all wrong. Yes, 2020 was turned on its head for reasons we all know too well, in some cases over well. I believe there is always opportunity during tough times and if we don’t adapt we will die. We all pulled together as an industry and continued to operate as best we can. The massive lesson for me is that life goes on and we are still able to fulfil our daily responsibilities whether it is for business or home life.

Life for all of us has change and this is the new normal. As we close off a year that none of us could have ever anticipated and move into a new year (the new norm), I believe the key to our industries success will be in creating new relationships and strengthening our existing relationships. Mental and financial well-being is more important than ever before, so we all need to invest time, energy and effort into our staff and with our fellow colleagues. Our jobs as leaders and mentors has never be as crucial as now. It’s up to all of us to step up and collectively give back to this awesome, amazing industry.

 

Monica shares how the “New Normal” has changed her working environment:

At first the whole idea of working from home sounded like the perfect icing on the cake, no more traffic and early cold mornings and the best part of it all was that I got to spend more time with my family. The change from a typical office set-up with a comfortable chair to a makeshift office in the spare bedroom was an easy sacrifice. I was working well and because I was at home, I was able to get much more work done during the time where I would normally be en-route to and from work. My work was never negatively affected but it took a lot of focus to be able to sit down for about 7 hours and work given all the distractions at home.

The emotional effects of lockdown and the abrupt disconnect from the day to day/face to face interaction with the public started to take its toll, no matter how fun and cool working from home was it certainly had its own negative impacts but because I had a mentor that I could talk to and seek advice from the stress was lessened and I was able to still give my 150% and remain consistent.

One of the most helpful advises I got from my mentor was that whenever I started to feel overwhelmed, I should try to change my workspace, so I started doing that. One day I would sit on my couch for an hour or so when I’m doing administrative work and at times I would go sit in the garden while working. The team meetings were the most interesting especially since my four-year-old thought she could just demand that we go play outside at that specific time.

We all had to get used to the idea of kids playing in the background while we are trying to be professional over the phone with clients but in the end all seemed to be in order.

In conclusion working from home made me realize that I am most productive at certain times in the day which has now helped me structure my day much better since I am back at the office.

 

The team shares how they are keeping themselves motivated while working remotely:

 Justin: Motivation has been tough especially for me, who thrives on face to face conversations and interaction. So what’s kept me going is the MS teams, zoom and telephonic discussions and chats with colleagues, friends and family.

Monica: One of the things that I have started doing during lock-down to help keep me motivated is gardening. Gardening/planting has always been a passion of mine, but I would always delay that first step of buying the seeds and preparing the piece of land for plantation. Some of the emotional effects of lockdown was that I started feeling like there was no progress in my days, same routine day in day out and that made me very anxious, that’s when I decided to finally take the first step and start planting.

I started with some mint herbs, and then after a few weeks of good progress I decided to plant some spinach, potatoes, carrots as well as flowers. Seeing the plants grow naturally from the ground day by day made me realise that I had everything I needed to still continue living my normal life before Covid and that I was still in control with or without lockdown.

My first harvest of spinach was the most fulfilling because for the first time ever I single handedly took some seeds and turned them into a meal for my family, I’m not sure if this could have happened had there been no PANDEMIC.

 

Paula Bezuidenhout is a HR Business Partner at Bryte Insurance and is mentoring Evelyn Thabeng an Underwriting Administrator at HIC Underwriting Managers.

Paula shares what will change for her as we prepare to enter a new era of working:

Being a people’s person and working in Human Resources, 2020 has presented significant challenges to me. Gauging the cultural climate of a department previously was as quick as “walking the floors”, sensing the atmosphere, talking to a handful of people and simply reading facial expressions and body language. COVID-19 and working-from-home have stripped me of these tools, and I had to develop new strategies and “senses” to enable me to keep my finger on the people-pulse. Looking at the future, the HR discipline as a whole will need to continue to find creative ways to build, preserve and embed corporate culture. Successfully building and sustaining meaningful relationships in a predominantly virtual world will become a competitive advantage.

 

Evelyn shares how the “New Normal” has changed her working environment:

 I was very intrigued or curious as to how the whole working from home situation was going to be for me, but with all “new” things there is always that sense of not knowing what to expect.

From the very first day of working from home, it was all systems go, I got up at the normal time I do to go to work and productivity got underway like any other day except I was just in the comfort of home.

The worry was there that there were so many things to get distracted by but luckily the distractions have just had to keep themselves busy as my attention was where I wanted and needed it to be. When the very  strict lockdown was relieved and we could go back to moving around and seeing different faces, the first time I had to make a stop by the office felt so surreal kind of like a zombie apocalypse without the zombies. I felt out of place but thanks to technology and knowing that my colleagues are a phone call or a Microsoft Teams meeting away at any time secured me.

We have been very fortunate as the industry we are in has made our 2020 working year nothing more but just a change of location.

 

The team shares how they are keeping themselves motivated while working remotely:

Paula: An internal locus of control has been imperative to stay motivated and productive during lockdown. However, witnessing the devastating effects that the pandemic and the various levels of lockdown have had on our economy and our communities, I was equally inspired and moved to make a difference and try to alleviate the harsh and adverse effects some people have been experiencing. Mobilising those who have and those who can, to assist those who experience lack, shares the burden and demonstrates the resilience and care of ubuntu.

Evelyn: Speaking to Paula and connecting on a regular basis has really been amazing for me. I have really been able to open up to Paula and speak openly about so many things. Some that even scare me to think about. The fact the I have a job still and have been able to spend valuable time with my family keeps me motivated. Time is so precious, and I have found ways to use it wisely, and equally to find my happy medium between work and family.

With taking time for myself, I try take a walk after a long day, and I use this time to relax my mind. Whatever may have happened that day has happened, but I think of positive ways in which I can handle certain situations better the next time by having a different approach and mindset when the new day begins. Every day is a learning curve whether it be in your job or with yourself and it’s having the willingness to welcome the process that can be really uplifting and motivating for you. Keeping regular contact with friends keeps me motivated.

 

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