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Monday 12 January 2015 and most of South Africa returns to work. As industry starts up again, pressure on ESKOM, (our failing national electricity provider) mounts, and load shedding is going to be a feature of our daily lives.

We as consumers and business owners have no control over when our electricity will be shut off and for how long. So, there is no point in complaining about it. It is simply a waste of our time and energy and raises our blood pressure.

Yes, it is irritating, annoying and does not fit into the 2015 goals and planning that Dave and I are working so hard to achieve. Ours is primarily an online business. We need reliable electricity and internet. Tough!

Over the weekend I have been thinking how businesses, SMEs or conglomerates can turn load shedding into a positive exercise instead of just whining.

Here are my suggestions:

  • Use the time to have fire drills or first aid refresher courses.
  • Have strategy planning sessions with your staff.
  • When your staff are under pressure and frustrated about the lack of electricity, it is a good time to do some practical customer service training.
  • Get to know your staff better by having informal get togethers and chatting about life, family and what makes them get up each day.
  • Build relationships with your staff by using this down time to offer soft skills training, literacy training, etc.
  • Use the time to encourage staff to read to improve their literacy skills. Start a library at work and encourage people each to bring a book.
  • Instead of throwing cash at charities so you get the tax deduction, do something practical. Get the staff knitting squares, creating toys etc that can be donated to charities instead.
  • Catch up on the filing, clean out cupboards, do a stock take.
  • Turn clutter into cash or donate to a worthy cause.
  • Take a flask of hot coffee to an elderly neighbour who will appreciate the company.
  • Go for a walk, have a swim, have a snooze and work a couple of hours at night to catch up.
  • Work in your garden for a couple of hours.
  • Phone your mother, father, child, grandparent.
  • If you have a coffee shop or restaurant why not have "load shedding" specials. Sell sandwiches and cool drinks if you can't make hot food and encourage people to come in and have fun. Get out the playing cards, chess sets and other board games. Have themed quizzes.

We are all in the same boat. Those who embrace the difficulties will be the winners.

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