Business as (un)usual!
For the past three weeks, our offices on the banks of the rivers Elbe and Spree have been empty, with civity staff working from home and all business trips cancelled until the end of April. What a change! But even with our offices spread out over 40 home offices, we continue to work for our customers with (almost) the same commitment as usual.
- "Good morning, can you hear me?"
- "Good morning. Yes, I hear you fine."
- "We’re still waiting for the other participants, but I’ll split my screen."
- "Very good, thanks. I’ll mute for now."
This is pretty much how many of our meetings begin at the moment. In just a very short period of time, the current lock-down restrictions have achieved what many had not thought possible: a real leap forward for digital collaboration in Germany. Now, it is no longer just short coordination meetings via telephone or video conferencing that are taking place, but also all-day workshops – and even complex working groups where more than a dozen or so participants discuss in virtually the same manner as before, as if sitting around the conference table.
We too were initially sceptical as to whether this changeover could succeed in such a short space of time, even though we have in fact already conducted regular coordination meetings with many of our customers via telephone and video conferencing. Experience in recent weeks has shown us that this changeover from personal to digital meetings can certainly work if certain preconditions are met.
This first involves internal adjustments. Every employee has set up an office in their home, the wifi and VPN connections were checked and any additional accounts that were needed with telephone and video conference providers were acquired.
How we work with our customers has also changed. For example, six-hour appointments have been restructured into several 90-minute packages, and instead of a flipchart and felttip pen, we now use software to create mind maps and theme memories. At the same time, a kind of telephone netiquette has been created, a common set of rules of behaviour for telephone and video conferences.
However, video conferences with many participants require even clearer rules and agreements than face-to-face meetings and are more complex to moderate. This means that a little more time needs to be planned for the same topics. It is also not always easy to find a video conferencing system that can be used by all stakeholders due to the respective IT security policies.
All in all, with the above measures in place we have been able to continue project work with our customers along with our internal coordination both efficiently and with full commitment.
Despite all this digital progress, it goes without saying that we look forward to advising and accompanying you again in person as soon as the current corona restrictions have been lifted.