Since March of last year Corona has made cooperative working from home and digital meetings the norm. On the first Wednesday of July we reflected on the impact and consequences of this with the Spectades Management Team.
I think we all recognise it: the initial reaction in the business community to the implementation of the government regulations for the pandemic was uncertainty or even fear. It was impossible to assess what the effect of the pandemic and the necessary measures for it would be; and the question of how long it would last and what the economic consequences would be made everyone apprehensive. It was also clear from the start that a great many companies and organisations were not set up to work remotely or online. The cause for that was that they could not or would not be able to work with Teams or Zoom, often for safety or security reasons.
Online working, concentration & focus
Following that difficult start, those reasons were resolved, and shortly thereafter the brakes for and on projects were off. But we at Spectades also quickly came up against the limitations of working online. It proved difficult for participants and trainers to maintain their concentration and stay focused from nine to five, especially with online training sessions and test situations for and at clients. The absence of direct face-to-face interaction in particular turned out to be a major constraint in actively involving and engaging participants.
The pros of working from home
Along with many others, people at Spectades also experienced the joy of working from home. In comparison to working in an office landscape or at a client’s, it was a very nice to be interrupted much less frequently or to be sidetracked from your work in some other way. It showed that you could work with great concentration at home without becoming distracted. In spite of that being the case, the direct personal contact with the client and having a nice little (social) chat with a colleague or client is something people always miss. “There is nothing like a nice face-to-face chat with a client or colleague”, observes Technical Manager Ron Wagner.
New ‘digital’ clients
After the uncertainty at the start of the pandemic, the work, including the acquisition, resumed. The odd thing about that is that new clients were ‘digital’ clients. You find yourself in the strange situation of never having seen the new client in the flesh, only via the screen. Sales representative Mark Jansen has this to say: “We can work digitally, but in my opinion we should quickly cultivate a healthy mixture of digital and ‘sitting down together’ again, because that is where the absolute added value of our work is: i.e. developing and maintaining products that are genuinely tailored to the client.”
Combination of online and on-site
The first general conclusion is that there is a host of things that can be easily and comprehensively discussed with clients online, foremost for regular (progress) consultations. Being physically present at the client’s or with the client has many advantages for demonstrations, training courses, workshops, sales meetings, implementation tests and demos.
In relation to the working from home situation, Spectades introduced team calling during the past year. Per team, staff received an update every week on what was happening in terms of Corona (measures) and the company’s situation with respect to technology, projects, sales and business. That was greatly appreciated and the information was better at that time than when everyone was busy with their own projects at the office.
ultimately, despite the wait-and-see policy at the beginning of the pandemic, it has been constantly busy at Spectades during this time of Corona as well. On-going projects required a great deal of time and new projects had to be started under these unusual circumstances. “Initially there was some delay, but for on-going and new contracts it was always full speed ahead”, according to Project Manager Anil Laldjie. In addition we experienced that the pressure on technology continuously increased: it had to be by Internet, and digital communication programmes had to be available and had to perform properly.
For the foreseeable future this will lead to Spectades making the right choices between working online and on-site. Jan Doorduin: “Where direct interaction works better we will again meet physically, as far as health and government permit. Furthermore when new projects are involved and in consideration of our staff’s constantly high workload, there is now the need to pursue the already long scheduled expansion plans as well. As we had actually already planned before the outbreak of Corona, we recently took on three new people, with discussions underway with another two candidates. In short: intense work with more capacity online as well as at the client’s, and therefore also greater scope for the people on the permanent team.”