These are strange times, who could’ve thought that chilling on the couch and washing our hands would save the world? But, well, here we are! As most of the governments across the globe announced closing of borders and lockdowns in an attempt to #flattenthecurve and control the spread of COVID-19, businesses have had to move faster than ever before.
Tricity is led by technology companies, most of whom already have remote work policies. Hence the move to remote was not as hard as it could have been. But moving from occasionally remote to full team, full time remote work requires more than just having your laptop and a good internet connection. We spoke to a few of our partners at State Street Bank Polska, Bayer Service Centre Gdańsk, Arla Global Shared Services Centre, Solwit, DLabs.AI, Ciklum, Olivia Business Centre, QSAR Lab and DNV GL to get their perspective on what’s happening and what they are doing to ensure employee safety, employee morale and mental wellbeing, and of course business continuity.
For all of our partners, the health and safety of their employees is their top priority. They are taking steps and implementing procedures to ensure that their people and their families are as safe as possible. The most common and most effective strategy was to implement immediate work from home policies for all, except a few essential personnel. Employers are working with property owners to ensure that offices are sanitised and safe for everyone who has to come in to work. The employers are also working with regional authorities and medical experts to track COVID-19, keep their employees updated and reassess their continuity plans as the situation evolves.
But this is more than just safety and work from home, this is a business transformation at a rate and scale never seen before. So how are our partners in Pomerania dealing with this?
Our partners take safety very seriously. All Ciklum offices in 10 countries are working remotely with work from home policy. State Street Bank Polska, now has over 80% of their people working from home.
The companies are implementing local, regional and international communication channels where employees can access information and latest updates. This ensures both a local and a global perspective. Internal communication has become more frequent with clear and concise messages. Some of this communication is via internal microsites, weekly town halls or newsletter. An e.g. is the Ciklum weekly newsletter, which is divided into sections: about their microsite, online Ciklum social events, sports activities, e.g. plank challenge and webinars (technical and soft skills). State Street Bank Polska has implemented mnemonics for addressing the crisis – 4C’s: Care, Communication, Clarity and Calm, to address the needs of their employees to communicate well and often. And, DNV GL’s CEO regularly records video messages for all employees where he talks about the means the company is taking to keep the employees safe and how it’s adapting to the new situation to keep business continuity.
But not everyone is able to work from home. There are a few essential support staff who are required to go into work and this is where developers and facilities management services are stepping up their game. Olivia Business Centre have been working with epidemiologists and public safety experts to ensure that all their staff are well protected and their facilities are safe for the residents who have to come into work.
Companies are also bringing all hands on deck and everyone from the management board to the interns are working with each other to ensure safety. For e.g. Ewa, CFOO of DLabs.AI made face masks for everyone and their families to help them stay safe.
Our partners also believe that technology will play a key role in battling the virus. Solwit, working with partners has launched Qlicmed while DLabs.AI is working on an AI based solution to help keep people safe.
The companies are working to present a simple, unified message of “We are connected, we are here. It is the same people, delivering at the same capacity, just from different home locations”.
One of the biggest disadvantages of working from home is the feeling of loneliness and disconnect that seeps in. This feeling along with the added stress of following the virus news and uncertainties can be a deadly combo. But our partners realise this and are on top of it!
According to work from home experts, one of the first steps in being successful at working from home, is to set up a work space which is comfortable and has all the requisite equipment. Our partners have helped their employees set up their home offices by arranging to have essential equipment like monitors, extra laptops and even chairs to be sent over to the employees home. In some cases they have also set up special work areas for employees who have special needs. Some of our partners have also sent over family care packs with games and other essentials for stay-at-home kids.
All the companies we spoke to have been arranging virtual exercise meetups during the day to encourage their colleagues to stretch and exercise. For e.g. Arla has regular online Yoga classes QSAR while Lab has weekly AMA’s with their leadership team.
Leadership teams are holding regular brainstorming sessions and sharing sessions on how to stay healthy and sustain mental well-being in times of isolation. DNV GL organizes a series of webinars for employees to help them find themselves in a new reality.
Little things matter, morning coffee breaks with teams create a daily routine, a short mindfulness session, on-line meetings with zero business content are great opportunities to get to know each other even better. Such meetings also need a structure: some of our partners have been hosting their integration events like brown bag learning sessions, game nights, birthday celebrations, anniversary celebrations and social quizzes via video conferencing.
Some partners do fun stuff like Bayer Service Centre Gdańsk who „checked” Feet For Home Office during one of the long meetings and the employees showed their …. socks. All during a perfectly serious meeting!
Team meetings are being made more fun with funky virtual background challenges, encouraging colleagues to attend meetings with their pets, eating lunches together, doing some fun impromptu dances etc.
At the same time, our partners are training their managers and leaders on changing their management style. Managers and team leaders are also being taught how to assess the basic mental health of their teams.
New Jobs and More…
One of the biggest fears on the market is the effect of the virus on jobs. But you can rest assured, because most companies in the Tricity are still pursuing growth plans and actively hiring!
The hiring process has also been adjusted to the current reality and moved completely online. Companies like Bayer Service Centre Gdańsk, Hapag Lloyd, DNV GL and Arla Shared Services Centre amongst others are actively hiring and growing their teams. You can check out their open vacancies on their websites.
To reach out to multiple employers via one application, check out Jobs in Pomerania, an initiative by Live more. Pomerania, powered by Invest in Pomerania.
Our partners have also successfully introduced fully online, #socialdistance compliant onboarding. Thanks to fantastic IT support teams, there has been little or no difference in the overall employee onboarding experience.
Bayer Service Centre Gdańsk has been organising delivery of computers, contracts and welcome packs to their new employees prior to the first day, with clear instructions on how to connect to the network and make the onboarding magic happen.
Hence, in Tricity, it’s Business as usual… but different.. But the same!
Ensuring that employees are safe and well is one thing, but it is also important to ensure that it’s business as usual, or rather better and more diligent than usual because the clients expect nothing but the best, right?
This is where the IT support teams step up. The IT departments have been made available on a 24 hour basis and provide constant support. Secure VPN connections allow for secure remote connections to the company networks while cloud based team collaboration tools allow for teams to connect and work together.
Most of our partners have very strong continuity plans, and are using this as an opportunity to test them out and improve them. They expect to continue to support their customers without major interruption. Business continues uninterrupted across the globe. Almost all of them have a truly global operating model with the same core global technology and common processes across every region and time zone, and the ability to run split operations.
Business Continuity Plans (BCP) include recovery solutions such as work from home, split operations, workload swap and alternate sites. These solutions help to support the continuation of business activities and operations and mitigate impact to delivery of services.
Our partners put customers at the heart of what they do and strive to maintain transparent communication channels that keep the customers informed of what’s happening and instill a sense of confidence.
Smaller companies and start-ups like DLabs.AI make no secret that several customers have withdrawn orders. But rather than being demotivated by that, they are spending more time in ensuring that their current customers are getting the best service.
Facilities management companies like OBC are also constantly monitoring and analysing the situation to ensure that the resident companies are able to function smoothly and safely. They have also increased the frequency and scope of sanitary and other services based on recommendations by the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate.
As the wildly popular internet meme says, “when all this is over, we will be remembered by how we treated others”. Most of us reading this are probably safely at home with our loved ones, but not everyone is so lucky. Our healthcare professionals, pharmacists and first responders are our frontliners who are giving it their all to keep us safe and it’s just right that we appreciate their efforts and assist them in every way we can.
Our partners are very active in this regard. DNV GL has been supporting hospitals with personal protective equipment and has been redirecting their weekly fruit deliveries to Szpitale Pomorskie. Something small to cheer up the staff as well as support the local fruit delivery company.
The employees of Bayer Service Centre Gdańsk have allocated 70 000 PLN of the team integration budget for donation to the hospitals. This forms part of Bayer Poland’s overall support for hospitals and other healthcare organizations.
Olivia Business Centre has been providing protective equipment and food to two hospitals. They have also been supporting the needy via the Dominican Fathers. They are also working with resident companies to organize computers for students. To show their gratitude to everybody caring for the safety of others, they are lighting up a big red heart on the Olivia Star building every evening.
As you can see, even in this uncertainty, the government and the companies in the Tricity work collaboratively, and are ready to keep the business running despite everything, all the while ensuring that their employees are safe and healthy. The regional government is working with the companies to come up with a support system that will further ensure growth and stability.
The fact that the companies can count on us and the regional government for support, is part of what makes companies in the Tricity confident in their operational and growth plans. The situation is ever evolving, but as we can see, our partners have had the grace to learn from it, adapt to it and grow despite it and we couldn’t be more proud!
To paraphrase Dickens It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness, it is the epoch of belief, it is the epoch of incredulity, it is the spring of hope, and all we need to do is wash our hands and #stayathome.
Note: We had a series of interesting conversations with CEO’s and Managing Directors about leadership in the time of crisis and also with employees from various companies about the joys (or not) of WFH! You can view/ listen to, the videos and podcasts here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLObsqZ2EHZxFlX5J5pPucq9yXa_A3E0u7