In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live and work. The Planner gets real with Trudi Freed, director at the HiSide Group, on the impact that the lockdown has had on their business.

When the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, nobody pre-empted that it would become a global pandemic. The virus hit quickly and hit hard, and within a matter of weeks, spread at such an alarming rate that extreme measures had to be taken to contain it.

“The initial postponing and cancellation complications led to lots of negotiating with suppliers and explaining consequences and risks. This was traumatic in itself, but is what we are trained to do. The bigger shock was to come when we realized that our business would literally be on shut down for anything from 1-6 months. No work… No revenues!” says Trudi Freed, a director at the HiSide Group.

“Advising our 40 staff members that their employment is on hold is not a nice thing to do, and it’s moments like this that I wish had a magic wand and I was a one-man band,” she adds.

“The bigger shock was to come when we realized that our business would literally be on shut down for anything from 1-6 months. No work… No revenues!”

While the virus and lockdown measures have affected businesses and industries across the board, this has not deterred the HiSide Group from innovating to deliver on exceptional eventing experiences.

“While our teams work hard at improvised virtual conferences and interactions, postponement plans and administrative tasks, the worry is that not everyone can survive the longevity of the six months. Some staff have savings, most do not. Every staff member has their own set of financial circumstances to deal with and my new vocation has become one of counsellor, financial advisor and a shoulder to cry on,” says Trudi.

As a company, HiSide is endeavouring to assist everyone as best they can and they are working hard to minimise the financial implications of the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns by applying for all UIF and government benefits, which can then be passed directly to its staff to support them during the shutdown of the business.

“The reality is that every company has its limitations. Maybe we will get through the next month or two, but beyond that, if this lockdown carries on for six months or more, we can expect to see many businesses facing severe financial stress,” concludes Trudi.

For more information on the sort of benefits that are being made available to businesses during this time, click here. To speak to Trudi Freed, she can be contacted at The HiSide Group on trudi@hiside.co.za.