By now you’ve probably read blogs or received emails about Covid-19 from every company you’ve ever done business with (or even just thought about doing business with.) This is indicative of companies struggling to communicate and put a brave face forward, but it’s even more reflective of how new, and in many ways weird, this is for all of us.
This Coronavirus is creating an uncertain situation, one that holds health and social risk, one that stirs up fear and makes us think about where to go from here. Covid-19 is turning the world upside down, and our logistics and start-up communities are trying to process it. For most of us, work-from-home seemed like an inevitable change, but somehwere off in the future. Yet, as Yuval Noah Harari put it in his Financial Times column: emergencies “fast-forward historical processes.” One day everything is normal, and the next you’re working in pajamas and worried about losing your job.
We are not healthcare experts, scientists (well not the natural sciences), or psychologists and we don’t want to make any assumptions or prognoses, but we do want to share how team Logward is approaching the challenge.
Like most companies, we’re concerned first and foremost about the health and safety of our employees and society at large, especially in the more vulnerable countries.
Yet as we look beyond the viruses’ impacts on our family and team, we certainly have a lot of questions for how it will affect on our potential clients and the broader logistics and supply chain markets. How, when and will the economy recover? Will fundamental factors shift? Will the logistics and supply chain industry experience permanent change as a result of the current challenge?
When it’s all said and done, will companies be more or less motivated to try new digital supply chain products like our own? We can make a strong pitch, but there is always an emotional barrier to trying something “new” after (or during) a roller-coaster ride! Long story short, the future feels more uncertain than before.
As a young and tech-savvy company, we feel positive about our own outlook and our ability to bring transparency and efficiency to our customer’s supply chains, but it doesn‘t help if people around the world continue to suffer and the containers remain empty.
We firmly believe that both society and the economy will recover and that we’ll return to some kind of normal. But we recognize that it won’t be the same “normal.” However we do hope that the “new normal” includes companies like our staying prepared for such crises.
We have contingency plans and SOPs in place, but it is exactly in these kind of moments that we want to do more than survive. We want to be a valuable first-mate to our customers as they navigate rough waters. How? By providing our customers valuable insight into their supply chain, from basic tracking and tracing to predictive analytics and real-time problem solving. But in order to do so, we need to be present! Online, locked-in, and ready to help!
That’s why we place such a strong emphasis on service, right from the start. Because in the end, it’s knowledgeable and personal support that makes the difference in times of uncertainty. Talking person to person, working through risks and opportunities and finding a way. Together.
Speaking of togetherness, this Covid-19 crisis is about much more than up-time and economic impact. Work-from-home is a huge shift, not just physically, but also emotionally and psychologically.
From our limited perspective, it’s certainly been a challenge, even though we pride ourselves on being flexible, tech-savvy, and willing to experiment.
One half of our team is based in Germany and the other half is in India, but both offices have a similar culture: working closely together (both are one-room offices), problem-solving in real-time, and lots of making each other laugh. When one person needs help, it doesn’t take long before they have several colleagues looking over their shoulder. When someone is telling a story or sharing some feedback, most people’s headphones are out. In short, by necessity, our culture is characterized by honesty, trust and fun.
And now we are suddenly, every single one of us, alone in the home office. No coffee in the morning or beer after work, no personal conversations, no horrible attempts at waste-bin basketball.
So our challenge has been: how do we manage to maintain our culture now? And how do we manage to keep productivity high? Because we are firmly convinced that fun and meaning at work are THE motivating factor and add-to the productivity of an entire company.
Apart from our Slack Channel “random” and our WhatsApp group “Funward”, in which we share all the funny thoughts we have or memes we come across, we’ve introduced daily video conferencing. Here we not only talk about tasks and results, but also about personal matters and more. We encourage our team to be even more proactive in dealing with any problems or challenges. We plan what we will do when we are “free” again.
Of course we know that a video conference is a big intervention in people’s personal comfort zone. Some of us don’t feel very photogenic, others don’t feel comfortable exposing their home, partner, children, pets, plants, or anyything else visible in the background. We’ve tried to make it clear that, in the end, it’s up to each person to decide whether to present themselves in a jogging suit or a tuxedo, but facial expressions and laughing colleagues are what gets us through the day.
We’d be dishonest if we didn’t mention the gorilla in the home office. Productivity is different in a work-from-home world. Each person motivates themselves differently and we talk openly about this challenge and try to respond to each others needs accordingly. Who can work best and how? Which routines should we maintain, which ones should we create anew? What tips can we share with each other? Rather than pretend that work-from-home is the same as the office, we started-off by acknowledging that it’s a challenge and a process to get through, and are taking it day-by-day.
As a young company with a young average age, we are not the most affected by this crisis, but we certainly ask ourselves how and where we can help. Unfortunately we do not have a manufacturing line for making masks or hand-sanitizers, or a product that can help individuals, but we can do our small part by staying home and slowing the spread of the virus. Furthermore, we can continue our process of flexible working hours to allow our team-members with children or elderly parents, grandparents, and neighbors to dedicate more time and attention to them. As individuals we can cheer each other up, show support for our healthcare workers, and support small businesses. As a business ourselves, we can pay attention and learn lessons from this challenge.
There are a lot of ways to go about it, and each Logwardian is handling it their own way. The one thing we’re all doing, though, is sticking together…and catching up on our hobbies.
Logward is a Hamburg & Bangalore based logistics software company.
We build software, move containers, and change mindsets.