When coronavirus restrictions kicked into play, Jesse Gardiner knew he had to act quickly. The managing director of HSC CoWorks, which has campuses in Bondi, Mosman, Chatswood and Dee Why, says the impact was instant and “enormous”.
Not only had the business lost the ability to host face-to-face sessions in a classroom, many parents had been catapulted out of jobs and could no longer afford HSC CoWorks’ services.
Like many other small businesses, Jesse was faced with an unwelcome reality - try and transform the business or go down with the ship.
Fortunately, he’d been watching the drama unfold overseas and had already began hatching plans. He’d run a couple of Zoom sessions with students and saw that a virtual setting could work.
So, when he pulled the pin on classes last week, “we had the confidence to say ‘okay, let’s do this’. We need to contribute to flattening the curve and we’re going to go for it”.
First up he had to get buy-in from the business’s 65 coaches and 35 HSC markers. And that turned out to be easier than expected, thanks to the company’s widely understood and accepted core values.
“Having our core values deeply embedded across the workforce has been critical to our transition,” he says.
“It’s also critical now that we have a remote workforce. The only way we can operate in this environment is for staff to be able to demonstrate their understanding of the core values.”
Those values, he says, are: unite in vision, create wow moments, get curious, improve thinking, stretch and challenge, and leadership from everyone. And he credits them with guiding the organisation at every step.
Jesse said staff had no trouble navigating the new software and had embraced the transition. In addition to software, he also bought iPads and pens for maths coaches, additional resources to send to students and took on extra staff to manage livechat sessions.