Managing a company even in regular conditions can be stressful, however, in times of crisis, the level of responsibility is even higher, and certain challenges stand out, Paolo Di Bella, General Manager of Engineering Software Lab, says in his interview for eKapija. He points out that the health of the employees is certainly the most important, because, without healthy colleagues, there is no one to work, to create new value. At the same time, it is important that family members of the employees are healthy, too.
– The current pandemic has disrupted regular economic flows, and although at one point things seemed to be globally under control, we are witnessing that countries have been forced to tighten measures in recent months, which undoubtedly affects the economy. Fortunately, we operate in an industry thanks to which many businesses have actually survived and continued to operate "remotely". However, in this situation we can not only think about our company, but it is important to us that our clients and partners operate normally and we are here to support each other in this process.
Certainly, the big challenge, which we have successfully overcome, is the transition of work from the office to work from home. For the Engineering Group, it was a special endeavor that meant that within 48 hours, more than 12,000 employees worldwide, continue to work from home without any significant difficulties. This challenge has produced one particularly important one, and that is onboarding of new colleagues. Engineering Software Lab managed to continue to hire during this period and we have a large number of colleagues who haven’t worked in our office for a single day, so they did not manage to meet all colleagues and fully feel our culture.
Managing a company remotely is a challenge by itself. At the same time, you were forced to do that from abroad How did it look like?
– At the time of the outbreak of this health crisis, which caught me during my stay in Italy, the basic task was to quickly devise a way to enable the system to function in new circumstances. None of us had a previously prepared plan of steps in situation like this and that is why we have been making decisions on the go. I had meetings with my associates on a daily basis, we were in contact 24 hours a day. We opted for an agile approach from the start, which meant that all stakeholders were involved in each meeting. In this way, before making any decision, we were able to know what impact it will have on the functioning of the company, and together we looked for the best ways to implement them. In situations like this, you get to know your team of associates well and see how they work together. From the first moment, I knew that one of my tasks was to show and truly emphasize trust in their work at all times. Given that the company has continued to function normally and is even hiring new people, that means we have done a great job and I am grateful to all my colleagues for that.
It should not be forgotten that company managers are not some machines that simply make decisions, but also people who have families. Apart from being the general manager of the company, I am primarily the father of four children, so the safety and health of my family is extremely important to me.
Because of all that, it is important to me that all the decisions we make, especially in these unstable circumstances, are well thought out and made as a team, so that we do not react hastily and are driven solely by emotions. And I believe we succeeded in that.
How did the current pandemic affect the company-employee relationship?
– From the very beginning, we promoted extremely transparent internal communication, that is, we shared everything we knew with our employees. From preventive measures, to the organization of work from home. It was important to us that the employees felt that the company, as part of a large international group, is stable and that they have no reason to worry about their future in it.
One of the important tasks was to enable the smooth processing of all their administrative requests and the like, which we succeeded in transferring these processes to digital format. We have also introduced additional employee satisfaction surveys that are focused on working in the current circumstances. I must point out that we have made significant decisions based on the results of these surveys. One of these decisions is the adoption of a hybrid model of work (a combination of work from the office and from home), which we will implement after the end of the pandemic. In addition to surveys, regular team and "1 on 1" meetings are held with employees, with whom we try to maintain regular contact and meet their needs. I mention all this because this transparent approach has resulted in the strengthening of trust between employees and company managers, which makes me especially happy.
I have to be honest and say that we all wanted to gather, socialize, meet in the hallways and communicate face to face. However, we will have to be patient a little longer.
I am pleased that our employees have recognized the true desire of the company to preserve health, ensure job security (and even grow), to regularly inform them about all the next steps and provide them with all the necessary support for smooth operation. Thanks to this approach, despite the unpleasant circumstances in which we all currently live, productivity in our company has increased, which provides us with a stable basis for further growth in 2021.