There have been plenty of tips and how to’s on handling teams during the Corona crisis.Therefore, I probably won’t reveal any magic trick you have not heard of before. However, there is not some simple five-step manual on how to keep the wheel of your company turning when some unusual situation emerges such as a global pandemic or state of emergency from one week to another with the government recommendation basically not to leave the house. Every employer and top management had to choose its own path to handle the crisis in complexity and tailor it to the company's philosophy. How have we in SABO Mobile IT coped with the situation until today? What has been the most important ingredient which has helped to make it through?
From the very beginning, all staff members could decide whether they want to work from home, without the need to notify it officially. It became a standard to work 100% remotely and came as a natural step even though we build the company dynamic on teamwork, human interactions, and some amount of office hours per day. We believed in maturity and level of advancement of each person in the company to cope with the situation responsibly.
Also, we have not analysed or evaluated the whole buzz around the state of crisis. We simply provided the sanitisers and emphasised that everybody should act responsibly towards the team. The purpose was to follow the government measures while avoiding the crowd panic.
The attitude of the top management was to be open and sincere about the situation across the whole team. Each staff member has been aware of the current financial and business situation and outlook of the threats and opportunities. Everybody knew, what they were up to and what they needed to do in order to overcome the situation as a team. Our CEO during the company meeting honestly explained all the decisions being made for the company, which has been very much appreciated. One of the claims was that maintaining the team is the top priority.
Shortly after the crisis burst, we have established a separate Corona channel at Teams (our main communication channel except for email). The intention was to have a single place where to put any news which directly affected our team or clients. The advantage was also that anybody could easily skip this channel for little while not to go crazy especially when the C - word topic seemed to be everywhere.
One of the conscious recommendations from the CEO was to be empathetic towards each other and towards our partners and clients. Surely, these times have been difficult for all of us and it is much easier to misunderstand or get an ambiguous feeling about something. Therefore, the direct communication and mutual respect have been very important values during this time.
Recently, even more than ever, we have considered beneficial to think ahead. Therefore, we not only have done our best at existing projects, but also kept coming up with new ideas, opportunities and we have started a few new projects. We invested in training our people in areas, which might bring us forward. We established a SABO Innovation group, focused on creating our new website or kicked off our SABO Blog you are reading now.
Even though remote meetings with tens of people are rather difficult to handle and might seem ineffective, we decided to continue with the whole company meetings to full extent. It took a little more preparation before and discipline during the meeting, but definitely worthy. Some of the measures we took were switched off microphones, camera on for the person speaking, using the side chat for questions or one meeting facilitator checking time and passing the word directly to the next speaker. Of course, nothing can substitute talking face to face, but I think we did pretty well. And there were even few jokes and fun moments happening between our robot heads :)
Keeping a motivated team atmosphere remotely has been one of the main challenges every company must have dealt with. Lot of people were missing personal contact and sense of belonging to the team and also possibility to share their joys and sorrows of home office times. We had a remote coffee break, after-work beer, we had a picture of home office working space - challenge. We even shared pictures of our cooking skills and celebrated two birthdays of our team mates remotely.
These were some of the things we have done in order to stabilize the company. We have remained honest with ourselves, we have followed our long-term philosophy, and we kept caring about the team. Of course, the real crisis is yet to come and we cannot say, what happens in next months and years. However, it is never too early to thank all team members, all our clients and partners. Because there comes the most important ingredient - the people we work with. No matter what happens next, we appreciated a lot that you all have remained calm, responsible, and faithful even when the world has gone crazy.