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Lockdown Q&A: William Chomley, IMAGR

Peter Griffin, contributor. 15 April 2020, 8:41 am

Here at ITP Tech Blog we are asking people in the tech sector about how they are approaching business during the lockdown and the technology they are using to stay productive while working remotely.

Today we talk to William Chomley, CEO at IMAGR.

What is your organisation?

"I'm founder and CEO of IMAGR, a Kiwi tech company which has created the SmartCart, an AI shopping trolley that makes shopping easier."

How many people does your organisation employ?

"We currently have 36 people at IMAGR but we're always on the lookout for good talent. During lockdown we've onboarded two new team members. It's been a challenge to welcome them into the team while everyone is based at home, but it's proven our processes are robust and work well."

In one sentence please explain what your business/organisation does?

"We have created the SmartCart which harnesses artificial intelligence to carefully track items you put in and take out of your trolley, and automatically charges your bank account when you leave the store."

Is remote working new to your organisation, or are you old hands?

"Whilst our teams are accustomed to working with folks in other offices (we have teams in both Auckland and Osaka), having everyone off-site and working remote is new for us all.

"During lockdown I've based myself in Osaka rather than Auckland as we have a product rollout happening here. So, while I'd be remote working regardless, it's a different feeling with the whole business being separated."

What apps/tech are you using to enable remote working?

"With offices across Asia Pacific we're used to using online communication tools. The ones we're getting most use out of during the lockdown are Zoom, Slack, Trello, Confluence, and the Google suite from Meet/Hangouts to Docs, Sheets and Slides."

How do you communicate with each other? 

"For daily internal chat we use Slack. It reduces the need for company-wide emails and it's a quick way to touch base. For internal meetings we use Zoom and Google Meet."

How do you communicate with your customers?

"Day-to-day conversation is via email and for meetings we use Zoom." 

What is the best thing about working remotely?

"Lockdown has really brought a newfound appreciation for communication. I do miss being able to get up from my desk to speak to someone instead of having to message and await a response. But out of it we've embraced initiatives to stay connected. 

"We all say hi and bye to the whole team at either end of the day, we give out virtual hi-fives to those who helped us when we sign off for the day, we're all sharing images of our pets, catch-up on Zoom for coffees and lunch, and get together for virtual events like Bob Ross painting nights." 

What is the worst thing about working remotely?

"Rather than remote working specifically, I think the challenges we're facing are more due to the COVID-19 situation overall. More team members are feeling lonely and isolated, anxiety levels are much higher, and there are highs and lows when it comes to productivity." 

What is the one piece of app/tech you recommend?

"Definitely Slack. It keeps us connected and allows us to chat like we would if we were in the office."

Do you have any tips to get through the lockdown?

"Keep up the communication - there's no such thing as over-communication right now. You can't just go and ask someone for clarification if you don't understand, so don't be afraid to pick up the phone and talk with your teammates. Check-in on one other, gauge how others are doing, and make time for non-work chat like you would in the office."


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