COVID-19 has forced the closure of hundreds of thousands of businesses across the globe. But while the virus changes the world as we know it, Atomi is one of the companies struggling to keep up with an increased demand for its service.
The education platform has seen a 300% rise in demand from teachers looking for online teaching tools in a matter of weeks as students adjust to learning from home.
Atomi Co-Founder and CEO Robert Barakat told The CEO Magazine the pandemic is an opportunity to change perspectives on how we run businesses and go about everyday life.
“The most exciting thing amid this unfortunate event is that we may be seeing long-term shifts in how the industry thinks and operates,” he says. “We’re bursting at the seams at the moment, trying to shift our own team online and fully remote, while also trying to support schools doing the same thing.
“The logistical hiccups are remedied by seeing how many schools we are able to support in such a tumultuous time.”
Extending learning beyond the classroom, Atomi delivers millions of video lessons each year to students worldwide.
Before the pandemic, the company gave lessons in everything from mathematics to the solar system to more than 80,000 people. Now business has boomed faster than Barakat ever dreamed of.
“It’s too early to tell how this situation will impact the bottom line of the business,” he explains. “We’re seeing a 300% increase in demand coming through as teachers look for online solutions before Term 2 of the school year kicks into gear in Australia.
“As teachers and schools get skilled up on how to deliver a great experience remotely, we’re really excited about the possibility of this condensing the time line of evolution from decades of iteration, to months.”
The drastic increase may be one of the few silver linings of coronavirus, but it’s not without a unique set of challenges.
“If we are able to change our perspectives slightly, we might see this as an opportunity to question all the assumptions about how to do business and maybe that will lead to innovation for the best.” – Robert Barakat
From offering support and educating the market to moving operations online, Atomi has implemented several innovative processes to meet the business boom and survive one of history’s worst health crises.
“Schools, teachers and students are experiencing a particularly disruptive time and are being thrust into a new realm of education that is no longer taking place within the four walls of a classroom,” Barakat tells The CEO Magazine. “While some schools have an online strategy, most do not.”
Atomi is offering complimentary access to the platform, running free webinars and increasing its podcasts to ensure teachers and students have an engaging education experience, no matter their location.
“We have to remember that these concerns aren’t limited to our [Australian] shores,” he says. “Our plan is to ramp up in every aspect of the business if we can sustain it.”
The online education tool is just one of the few businesses recording drastic rises in demand.
Online video conferencing including Zoom, online delivery and logistics, social apps and online fitness programs are among the companies thriving during the pandemic.
“People are buying everything online and with an inability to leave the house, couriers, freight and delivery are doing very well,” Barakat says. “If we are able to change our perspectives slightly, we might see this as an opportunity to question all the assumptions about how to do business and maybe that will lead to innovation for the best.”
Business lessons Atomi learned from COVID-19
Teamwork is essential
“It’s times like this when investment in your team pays off tenfold,” the CEO explains. “We shifted 70 people into online and remote work within 48 hours. They didn’t miss a beat.
“The team you have now is more valuable than the team you might have in the future.
“Double down on ensuring they are up for the challenge.”
Lead with authenticity
“As a leader, it’s more important now than ever to ensure my team has structure, direction, hope and an avenue to express their concerns, frustrations and anxieties,” Barakat says. “Rapid change can be taxing, but doubling down on communication and morale is always a good move.
“Communicate more, be more transparent, reaffirm your goals and ensure everyone has a good mindset. The team will figure out how to do the rest.”
Shake it up
“Don’t be afraid to deviate from what you’ve been doing up to this point,” he says. “This period has broken our sales processes, marketing, content production and customer support. That’s fine – we will just find new and better ways to do those things.”