How do I work successfully during crisis with digital solutions and according to New Work?

One characteristic of an approaching pandemic is apparently, among other things, the exponentially increasing demand for toilet paper. We thus allow ourselves a brief analogy that should not be taken too seriously.

We never felt this enormous need for toilet paper, everything was fine in this respect. There was always enough toilet paper and there was no reason to act differently now. Not surprised – but with concern – we observed fellow human beings displaying downright strange behaviour. They grabbed for everything possible. They stocked up on everything and spent a lot of energy on it.

Well, companies didn’t seem to be doing much differently. As soon as the pandemic was named, measures were taken without end. We are not talking about the well-known and absolutely important Corona measures here, but about measures to ensure that working in the company also functions without physical contact. And there was hoarding in the “toilet paper shelf” for all it was worth. Suddenly, software called Zoom was installed everywhere, new meetings were invented to keep people happy (or under control) – to name just a few “hamster purchases”.

Now one may ask, why do most of them run screaming to the “supermarket” to get hold of the last “toilet paper”? Because they don’t have enough “toilet paper”? No, because the way you work was not prepared for such a situation and now you have to react impulsively. Why did this not happen to us?

No extraordinary situation?

Until 16 March 2020 (introduction of the extraordinary situation), we had hardly any idea what was in store for us. And accordingly, we didn’t let ourselves be distracted. Sure, the virus was in the media day in and day out, but no one could really figure it out. So we did what many seemed to do in this situation, we continued to work as normal until we had an inkling of what was really going on.

Even before the extraordinary situation began, it was clear to us that something big was coming. We’re staying at home, and we’re staying home now. An e-mail was necessary for this, nothing more!

A few days later, unfortunately, our suspicions came true and the “lock-down” was a reality. On 15 October, the NZZ announced that the second wave had arrived. On 19 October 2020, a short internal update on the second wave followed via Slack. Again, that’s it!

You are probably asking yourself now, how can it be that no further measures were necessary? And now we come to the point where we realised that YOUNITY was “pandemic-proof”, so to speak, so that no impulsive “hamster purchases” had to be made. Was this therefore not an extraordinary situation for us?

Five reasons why the pandemic did not catch us on the wrong foot

One message was enough for the mode change – and no one ran screaming to the “supermarket” looking for “toilet paper”. Why?

1. Work from anywhere is business as usual
The home office was not unknown to us. Long before the pandemic, YOUNITY employees were free to choose where they wanted to work. They could decide for themselves at any time whether they wanted to come to the office, prefer to stay at home or work in the coffee shop around the corner. Even then, it became clear that the social aspects should not be underestimated, which is why employees (voluntarily) still often went to the office. But we were used to working at a distance. We also already had a well-equipped office and sufficient network capacity at home.

2. More personal responsibility with the help of holocracy
Admittedly, home office works poorly or not at all without personal responsibility and trust. The gradual introduction of the holocratic form of organisation taught us how to function independently, self-responsibly and yet pulling together. Honestly, it was not a short process. But now we are very good at it – and therefore it doesn’t matter where we work from when it comes to achieving the company’s goals. The employees show their best skills at all times.

3. An agile manifesto that works regardless of location
We have been working on our own homemade agile framework (based on Scrum) for several years. This framework is now very established in a mature version and works excellently. But why is it so important? We all know that it is the business processes that determine how effectively and efficiently we work together – not the tools. Our framework even combines Holocratic events with events and artefacts from Scrum into a single business process. For example, we have Daily Standup, Tactical, Governance, R&D and Review & Planning events that cover all coordinative aspects. This means that – onsite or remote – we do not need any additional meetings, coordination or the like.

4. Tools that support processes
Modelling a framework is one part of the work. Another is to keep the framework alive. And this can only be done with appropriate configuration management. This means that suitable tools must be available for the respective events and artefacts so that the employees can carry out their work intuitively and easily. Fortunately, we centralised, digitised and correlated all information and files a long time ago. Internally, we work exclusively with microservices in the cloud and have mapped our business processes in them. Our tools help us to function independently of location. In addition, we work exclusively with tasks – regardless of whether they are internal or external projects – which run through this agile process. All this means that, thanks to the estimations, the resource utilisation of all employees can be viewed transparently at any time, which massively simplifies planning.

5. Flexible and loyal customers
We consider ourselves very lucky to have a clientele that is extremely open and exemplary in dealing with the situation. The cut from onsite to remote can only succeed if the clients are ready for it. And they are or were! In no-time, we were able to support them with our collaboration tools so that they could continue to work on the projects practically without a hitch. We also received the necessary acceptance with our various remote tools so that we could quickly switch to a new mode. And so you realise that a pandemic, besides its huge negative magnitude, could also contribute to something good: The advanced acceptance of digitalisation. We thank our customers for allowing us to accompany them even in these difficult times and to learn together.

Have you noticed in these times that the way of working or the tools could be optimised? Or can we tell you more about our experience? Then get in touch with us, we would be happy to support you in making your company digitally fit, regardless of location.

Image: Anastasiia Chepinska, Unsplash

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