Our President spoke to the nation again last night and gave broad strokes of the way forward for our country post April. Our Ministers, I’m sure, will elaborate in the coming days and give more clarity on the specifics, particularly as they pertain to schools, businesses, and daily life.
I write to you today not only as the CEO of the AA, but also as a family man.
Being uncertain about the future, with no clear plan forward, can often overtake our thoughts and be unnecessarily debilitating.
But it is precisely in these times that we need to show our strength. We need to stand strong for our colleagues and families, and we cannot allow the uncertainty of the future to prevent us from moving ahead.
How do we do this?
One important step is to do the things we can. At the AA we did this early on. We engineered several solutions to enable our staff to work remotely and still continue providing assistance to members. We ensured our call centre staff were properly equipped with the right technology to provide a seamless interface to those calling in. We applied for – and received – classification as an essential service, and we quickly set about getting all our staff working from home.
It’s worth repeating that these aren’t exceptional steps and are by no means perfect, but we acted swiftly and ensured we can continue working. For me this was a critical factor.
We did all of these things because we were able to. We controlled our situation as best as we could, and we are carrying on providing services to our members. But, in the back of our minds I think we all believed we’d be back at work in May: that the situation we’re currently facing would be over, and that life would return to ‘normal’.
That is clearly not going happen, at least not for the foreseeable future. It seems now that within the strict guidelines announced last night, movement and travel will still be heavily restricted for at least the next few months, and many of us will still have to work from home. Our children may or may not be going back to school (or tertiary institutions), and it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to visit family, especially older relatives in care homes.
The good news is that we can still control our own individual situations. We can – and must – still do the things we are able to. Our President asked us last night to stay strong. We owe it to ourselves and the communities we operate in to do exactly this; carry on with the things we can control. An important aspect of this is to accept our current reality, and to work within the parameters as best as we can.
Life for the moment is tough, and it may get harder still in the weeks and months ahead. I cannot guarantee that things will be rosy or “all work out” the way we want them to in future but I can promise you this: the AA is going to carry on providing services to you when you need it, our staff will continue to work as hard as they can to ensure our company moves forward, and we will all stay optimistic about the future.
Lastly, I want to ask you all again to please download the AA app (it’s available on all mobile stores). Doing this will enable us to provide quicker service to you and cuts down on calls to our call centre. It will also enable you to activate AA Armed Response to ensure you stay safe during these uncertain times.
There is little we can do about the current restrictions and lockdown, these decisions are out of our hands. We can, however, ensure we stay positive, not get too gloomy about our circumstances, and control the things we can within our own personal domains.
It is through acceptance that we can liberate ourselves from perceived (and real) fears. This, perhaps being the greater challenge as a nation.
I urge you all to stay strong, and be safe. This too, shall pass.
Yours from the dining room table (Yes, I moved),
Automobile Association of South Africa