Business guide to Coronavirus

Coaching business goes all-in on virtual learning

COVID-19 forced a Sydney HSC coaching business to shut its physical doors, but quick thinking and a $10,000 investment in technology means hundreds of students are now embracing ‘virtual’ learning.

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.

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But what of the students? It’s no mean feat encouraging students to knuckle down and work from home.

According to Jesse the response has been overwhelmingly positive, although some students have fallen off the wagon. And that’s probably because they haven’t adopted six key behaviours that CoWorks believe set you up for success. 

Indeed, for those parents at home struggling with their new status as pseudo teachers, Jesse suggests encouraging these behaviours:

1. Engage your vision – create a vision board and have your goals set up in front of you every day. This will minimise distraction and procrastination. 
2. Planning – create a physical plan and be accountable to it.
3. Train. Daily. 
4. Push your comfort zone – no one achieves anything by being in their comfort zone.
5. Grit. No was born a great essay writer or mathematician. If you keep at it the results will come. We’re talking about a growth mindset, not a fixed mindset. 
6. Own it. Take responsibility for the results that you produce. Adopt the mantra: If it’s to be, it’s up to me.

Let’s hope Jesse sticks to this mantra. His working from home routine includes doing 100 push-ups a day! 

For those parents who may not be working from home and have taken on the role of teacher, HSC CoWorks has created a number of resources available for free. Click here to get started

Business Australia is on hand with a range of resources to help businesses navigate this difficult time, with practical advice and information to help you develop strategies to maintain and sustain. Visit our resource hub to find out more.

Marise Donnolley

Editor, Business Australia

Marise Donnolley is a journalist and editor with more than 20 years' experience in the media. 

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