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Corona, lockdown, uncertainty: what companies should do during the crisis

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Corona, lockdown, uncertainty: what companies should definitely do now

Corona, lockdown, uncertainty … No one is having an easy time right now: some are working from home, others are on short-time working, care workers are completely overworked, the self-employed fear for their livelihoods and pensioners for their lives. And apart from that, we all miss our friends and relatives. The coronavirus pandemic and the associated lockdown has disrupted our everyday lives, both at work and at home.
The lockdown, or shutdown, brings uncertainty: no one can predict how long this situation will last, no one knows how things will develop. We are confronted with maximum uncertainty.

How do we deal with this now? Or even better: how do we use the situation constructively and make the best of it?

 

The consequences of lockdown and social distancing

Personal meetings are currently not possible: we are all observing social distancing so as not to endanger anyone. This is why working in coronavirus times is particularly difficult for companies whose business model is geared towards bringing people together or where teamwork is essential. How can you work well together despite social distancing and working from home? How can customer relationships be shaped?

Keeping a physical distance is just one of the difficulties posed by the coronavirus: many people are also worried about the economic aspects of this crisis. On the one hand, your own financial situation, e.g. as an affected self-employed small business owner or as an employee on short-time working, puts pressure on you. On the other hand, the situation in companies that are struggling with the fact that their production is at a standstill because the supply chain has been interrupted or the workshops or stores have had to close is of course also worrying. Many are losing orders, while others are unable to pursue their core business due to the current regulations. And yet it has to go on somehow!

 

Corona Shutdown

 

Corona = more VUCA than ever before

The uncertainty and unpredictability that Corona brings with it forces us to act relatively spontaneously. No wonder: the situation that we are no longer allowed to come together, that our work is characterized by social distancing and working from home is completely new to us. There are no plans for this.

Just a few weeks ago, nobody could have imagined what the world looks like today and nobody knows what the situation will be like in a few weeks’ time, let alone in September, for example.
If you have ever heard of VUCA and have not yet been able to understand what it means, this situation is a perfect example.

What is VUCA?

VUCA is an acronym and stands for volatility (rapid change), uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It describes the rapid changes and the unpredictability of the world in recent years.
In our article VUCA: Change management in our VUCA world, we went into this in more detail.
VUCA ultimately means a situation that no one can really fully understand or comprehend, in which no one can make predictions. Such unstable situations naturally require a different approach than stable situations: here, an agile approach is required even more than before.

 

Uncertainty Lockdown

 

Corona and agility

In this respect, this situation requires an agile approach even more than many before it. The current situation is a far greater disaster for companies that have previously worked strictly according to plan than for others.

  • Who can make a plan for the current situation?
  • We have no idea what will happen next. Will everything be the same again in the summer?
  • Or will we still be affected by the contact restriction measures in the long term? And how will the situation affect the global economy in the medium term?
  • When, if ever, will trade across borders return to its previous level?
  • What about travel?
  • What impact is the situation having on purchasing power and buying behavior in the B2C and B2B sectors?

Drive on sight

Planning therefore only ever works for the next manageable period. Instead, creativity is required to develop new solutions for completely new situations. If a company is already working in an agile way – i.e. has set itself up to be able to deal with new situations quickly – adapting to the lockdown is much easier.
Here, we use one of our customers to show you how to deal constructively with uncertainty in times of pandemic.

 

Customer service Corona Social Distance

 

Company in uncertainty

Rainer has a company that sells, plans and then installs photovoltaic systems. Due to the fact that many of the parts are built by suppliers in China, there are delivery problems in production. As a result, Rainer’s company naturally also has deficits on the income side, as the systems are only paid for once they have been installed. What’s more, his salespeople are currently having difficulty making appointments. This is partly due to the contact ban, of course, and partly because many potential customers are postponing investments due to the uncertain situation.

Rainer has been involved with agile working methods for some time. In the current situation, this gives him stability, because he has the feeling that he has a good “roadmap”, an idea of how to proceed despite all the uncertainty.

So take a look at Rainer’s approach and see how you too can take your company forward constructively in times of lockdown and uncertainty. We have tips for you.

 

Video Innovation in the crisis

In these turbulent times with new challenges, one thing should be kept in mind: Innovation is more important than ever. In the new video, we discuss with our special guest Sandra Kaul how innovation can be driven forward despite – or perhaps because of – coronavirus. Do the new ways of working offer unimagined possibilities? Are yesterday’s business models still appropriate today? In the virtual coffee kitchen, we – Susanne and Christian Grätsch and Maximilian Hessel – have a stimulating chat about this exciting and promising topic.

 

 

Tips for dealing with uncertainty in times of corona and lockdown

Tip 1: Stabilize yourself!

Let go of the past, embrace the present and think positively and constructively!

The situation is what it is right now. We have a pandemic and a lockdown. And nobody knows what’s coming. No woulda, woulda, coulda will help us here. So don’t dwell on what could be, but accept the situation and concentrate on finding constructive solutions. You need your focus now.

What can help you here:

Consciously focus on the good things in your life.

  • Who are the people who are close to you?
  • What gives you support?
  • What positive things can you take from this situation?

Trust that you will get through the situation well, even if you don’t yet know exactly how. You have your power, your skills and your network. And we live in a healthy country with a stable infrastructure. Everything will fall into place.

Rainer also remains level-headed. He focuses his attention on the survival of his company and prepares upcoming decisions and changes with a cool head.

Distance virus

Tip 2: Set up your company flexibly and secure your liquidity!

Create options and room for maneuver so that you are able to act when you finally see how the situation develops!

What can such leeway look like? Let’s see how Rainer solved this:
Rainer’s company has done well in recent years and is in good health so far. Rainer does not yet know how the coronavirus crisis will affect his company’s financial situation. But he makes decisions that allow him to be more flexible:

Secure employees

Rainer sits down with his employees and together they look for solutions that will preserve the financial buffer for as long as possible. His employees offer to put him on short-time working, which Rainer quickly applies for after some consideration. You can take it back at any time.

Ensure liquidity

Rainer takes the opportunity to apply for a state loan to secure his liquidity. This gives him three months’ breathing space in case the situation deteriorates. He plans to repay the loan as soon as he can foresee that the situation will improve and he will not need it.

Solve liabilities

Like all other companies, Rainer’s company also has several ongoing contracts. To be on the safe side, he has terminated all contracts that he can do without, even if the notice period is several months. In the event that the situation remains difficult, he has thus gotten rid of liabilities; in the event that everything goes well, he can certainly reactivate the contracts.

Driving on sight Vuca

Tip 3: Plan on sight!

Plan for the next few weeks at most, in the current situation possibly even just the next few days!

We do not know if, when and how exactly the lockdown will be eased, or whether new findings on coronavirus will change the situation.
Rainer sits down with his team every morning – virtually, of course. They use “teams” for this because they can see each other and have a better feeling of how the other person is doing. Together, they evaluate the available information and consider what the next steps will be in order to stand up well as a company in this crisis. Of course, new information is added every day.

Check the information you have!

The team works through the following questions in several rounds:

  1. What has changed?
  2. How did it go yesterday?
  3. What new information do we have?
  4. What influences us and how?
  5. What does that mean for us?
  6. What are the next steps?
  7. What are we up to today?
  8. Who does that?

Home office lockdown

Tip 4: Find new solutions for the new challenges!

The usual approaches are currently not feasible. This means that in this unforeseen situation, solutions adapted to the requirements are needed.

Define your challenges!

Completely new challenges arise – for example:

  • What opportunities do we have to coordinate as a team even though we can’t come together due to social distancing?
  • How do we manage to talk to our customers?
  • How can we measure something without climbing onto the roof in question because we are not allowed to get close to our customers?
  • At the moment we are worried about liquidity, although we have actually written good orders. – How do we deal with this situation?
  • How can we prevent cancellations?

Rainer and his team formulate the new challenges – and brainstorm together what solutions are available to them.

 

Working with social distancing Corona

 

Find solutions!

Changed service during lockdown

Rainer’s team is working out how it can offer its service completely without personal contact:

You can view the house remotely while the customer communicates with the employee in the house via web meeting or Skype. The customer sent the floor plan of the house in advance. This allows the customer advisor to keep an eye on the house and respond to the customer’s questions.
The team naturally informs customers and potential customers about these opportunities.

Customer orientation in an uncertain situation

They also offer their customers new conditions for installment payments at an early stage. Customers can thus reschedule despite their own financial difficulties and Rainer’s company avoids cancellations.

Rainer and his team actively approach their customers and ask what difficulties have arisen for them and what options are now needed.
They show that solar systems are a good investment in the future and ask what they can do specifically to make the investment easier for customers.

Supply chains in times of Corona

And, of course, the calculation is not made without the host: Rainer’s team is in close contact with the manufacturers. Together, they are checking whether parts of the systems can already be installed on roofs, although other components cannot currently be supplied. This way, they can at least get started with the work. And all the work doesn’t pile up.
With these strategies, the company is trying to cope with the current situation of lockdown, social distancing and an uncertain future. Of course, the situation can change at any time – and require new strategies.

 

Pandemic safety respirator mask

 

Tip 5: Try, reflect, adapt – and then try again!

Since the challenges posed by corona and lockdown are completely new, nobody knows whether the solutions devised for them will really work… Therefore: simply try out what works and what doesn’t, then evaluate and finally adapt your solution to the new findings. And then see if that works better.

There has never been a situation like this where you are not allowed to have personal contact. And since no one was really prepared for how to deal with this, most of us looked for creative ways. Many of us are now sitting at home and trying out online methods to communicate with others as well as possible and keep the business running. Of course, a lot can go wrong at the beginning – but trial makes perfect.

The same goes for Rainer’s team: fortunately, Rainer has long made sure that his team is keen to think along and try things out. Of course, they are now benefiting from this. Rainer’s team is courageous and tries things out. Successes and failures are then discussed in the virtual team meeting and it is jointly decided whether it is worth adapting the idea or whether it is better to discard it. In this way, the team gradually works towards viable solutions and accepts that not everything can run perfectly straight away.

Home office team

Tip 6: Work together and foster creative exchange!

We’ve all been there: we’re chewing on a problem, looking for a solution, but just going round in circles. Nothing new in sight. Until someone inspires us with a sentence or even a solution that we would never have thought of ourselves. The more minds that search for solutions, the more possibilities open up. Creative work works much better in a team, and creativity increases when you work together.

Rainer’s team has experience with web conferencing and uses a virtual whiteboard for creative meetings. Everyone is amazed: it works perfectly. The team members are delighted: “We never thought we could get such a good team feeling together online.” And the special situation actually welds the team together, creating a greater sense of unity than before, even at a distance. And new ideas.

Teamwork at a distance

In times of a pandemic and social distancing, teamwork and good cooperation are even more important than usual, as this is the only way we can develop good solutions together. What’s more, in the seclusion of lockdown, we are beginning to appreciate more than before how nice it is to be in contact with other people! In this respect, it should actually be called “physical distance” instead of “social distance”, because socially you might even get closer to each other than before. Many customers have told us that this situation has even made them feel closer to each other in their team.

Creative solutions

Tip 7: Stabilize your team!

Your employees are also unsettled.

Therefore: talk openly about what you are planning – and involve your team!

Pay particular attention to the mood in the team these days!

Rainer involved his team right from the start, which really strengthened the trust between them. Rainer regularly organizes retrospectives so that we can work well together as a team during lockdown.

Organize regular retrospectives!

Right now, it is even more important that the flow in the team is right, that there is trust among each other and that cooperation works well. But right now, it’s not so easy to talk in person and maintain the team spirit.

In agility, the retrospective is a meeting where we look together at what is going well in our collaboration, what we should keep, what is not going so well, what we should change, what ideas we have to take our collaboration to the next level. This type of meeting can also be held virtually. The retrospective is a good opportunity to strengthen cohesion and allow the team to grow together.

Home office

Tip 8: Relax the rules!

If new situations are to be mastered, your team must have the opportunity to try out creative new solutions.

And this has to be done quickly, because the old way may no longer work. Every delay simply costs money. In this situation, extensive decision-making processes and tight guidelines are poison. So make things easier for your team so that they can find good solutions for themselves.

One example:

In Rainer’s company, there used to be a rule that new programs could only be used after a thorough check by the IT department. There were strict rules on safety regulations and compatibility, not to mention pricing. This process used to take several weeks or even months, especially when many other tasks were involved. During the coronavirus lockdown, Rainer quickly realized that this regulation was counterproductive in the current situation.

Just do it! But share your experiences!

There are a number of good programs for little money that quickly open up great opportunities for collaboration in the team and with the customer. These should and had to be tried out and the opportunities exploited. In consultation with the IT department, Rainer issued the new slogan in the team: “Just do it! But share your experiences!” A sigh of relief went through the team and everyone started to try things out eagerly. In two weeks, they want to sit down together and put their experiences on the table. Maybe we will then agree on a few solutions, but maybe not. That’s what you have to find out.

Coaching Online

Tip 9: Use the time for an assessment, a coaching session!

Think about what you want to learn and where you want to develop!

Use this special time to focus on yourself, to become aware of where you are right now!

The lockdown came relatively quickly. Of course, there was and still is a lot for all of us to do at first, as we have to adapt to the changed situation and take appropriate measures. For many, however, it soon becomes apparent that there is less going on than in normal day-to-day business. It makes sense to use this extra time and the special situation!

Coaching

Coaching helps you to take the next step in your career, to position yourself well and to learn. And you have the opportunity to discuss with someone how you can deal with the current situation and your next goals in a very practical way.

Rainer conducted an online assessment with us, the berlin team. We work with a high-quality analysis tool – this gives Rainer a clear picture of his strengths and areas for development. He is working on becoming better in his role as Managing Director. Sparring with the coach also helps him to organize his thoughts and make good decisions.

 

Social Distance

 

Tip 10: Continue to develop your team and your company – even virtually!

Set the course for the time after Corona!

It not only makes sense for you, but also for your team to use the shutdown period for further development. Of course, it is challenging to work together in a virtual workshop, i.e. without being physically present. But we can say from experience: it is quite possible!

We also worked virtually with Rainer’s team: using an online whiteboard, we designed a new process together in real time. Rainer’s team is pleased that it is repositioning itself in times of crisis instead of just minimizing damage. His employees are looking forward to getting back together, the lockdown has brought them forward as a team and they are fully motivated.

Virtual workshops

Many more things can be worked out in virtual workshops: a new strategic direction, for example. Now is the time to put your foot on the ball and reflect on what the company and the team need now and in the future. And by the way: the opportunities for change in the company are particularly favorable at the moment, because we have all already left the beaten track. After the current chaos, sooner or later everything will come back into order – it’s best to start working with your team now on how you can create this new order for yourselves.

We are happy to support you. Even now. Right now!

 

Coronavirus work

 

What we can help you with now

Even and especially in these challenging times, we as the berlin team would like to stand by your side. Of course, we have thought about how we can adapt our own work to the circumstances in Corona times. That’s why we have worked intensively on virtual workshop formats and suitable tools – and found some great options! Of course, we are happy to share our experiences with you. We are also here for you now!

We have come up with very special offers for this – especially tailored to Corona times and also special in terms of pricing.
Our Crise list – i.e. our Corona price list – applies exclusively to orders for the packages offered until May 15, 2020 and implementation until July 31, 2020.

What we can offer you in times of Corona:

 

 

 

Online ToolsRemote Retrospective

In order to maintain and strengthen working relationships from the home office, we offer you the opportunity to put your foot on the ball in a virtual team meeting and take a look at collaboration in the current situation. (approx. 3 h retro incl. preparation for 950,- €)

 

 

 

 

Working virtuallyIndividual pit stop

Pausing and looking inwards in turbulent times increases your ability to act in a crisis. A professional assessment based on a potential check allows you to gain clarity and focus with an awareness of your own strengths.

(License + evaluation interview for 800,- € )

 

 

 

Teamwork home officeYour “Virt-shop” series

Some management or project workshops are really tricky even under normal conditions and require moderation. Different perspectives and characters turn the same virtual meetings into a real challenge. We moderate you to success!

(1 day preliminary talks + two 4 h workshops incl. preparation for 3600,- €)

 

 

Conflict mediation onlineConflict mediation remote

If you can’t meet in person, minor tensions sometimes turn into full-blown conflicts. We support your cooperation, mutual understanding and respectful interaction online. (Mediation for 2 people 950,- € / each additional person 250,- €)

 

 

 

 

Online MeetingCoaching in difficult times

We are confidants and sparring partners in dealing with current challenges. Be it that the economic basis has to be saved, a child and a job have to be reconciled or simply the uncertainty is getting on your nerves.

(30 minutes to get to know each other for free, then a total of 4 hours coaching for 950,- €)

 

 

 

Teamwork at a distance“Virtual tools” qualification

Which tool do I use for the online conference and which as a virtual whiteboard? How do I invite people remotely to breakout sessions and what is important in moderation? We make you and your team fit!

(approx. 3 h online training with up to 12 participants for € 950)

 

 

 

 

Virtual design processVirtual design processes

Creative teamwork also works remotely. Use the time to take your business to the next level! Developing new solutions, services or processes collaboratively is also fun virtually. And with the help of our all-round feel-good home office package, real prototyping is also possible. (4 design workshops of 4 hours each incl. packs for 8 people 5200,- €)

 

 

 

 

 

Online brainstormingAnything else?

Are there any other challenges that you would like support with? Inspiration or planning assistance, conceptual work and networking, improvement of communication, cohesion and productivity – feel free to contact us! We are prepared for the VUCA world and have ideas.

The initial consultation with us is always free of charge. Simply contact us at info@berlinerteam.de

 

Video leadership guide: 18 tips for leadership in a crisis

Here we, the berlinerte, give you 20 minutes of tips on how you as a manager can best navigate through the crisis:
What demands does the current crisis place on managers? The decision between humanity and economic efficiency is one of the main challenges here. Life in the “new normal” with its physical distance presents us with new challenges every day. Should I trust my employees more? Has the time for important things already come? We have put together 18 practical tips for entrepreneurs and managers that are easy to implement and particularly effective.

 

Communicating virtually in times of home office and lockdown

In pandemic times, we are all working with as little personal contact as possible: Video conferences and Zoom meetings are the order of the day. Many customers have questions:

  • How does Zoom work?
  • What alternatives are there?
  • Which ones are good and fit our requirements?
  • How do we design online meetings that are fun instead of boring?
  • How does the technology work? What do I need at all?
  • Which online whiteboards are suitable for virtual collaboration?

We answer these questions – and many more – in detail in our article

Zoom Meeting & video conferencing: How it works, alternatives, tips

 

Further reading

You want to read a little more about agility? – Then we have a few more articles for you here:

Agile leadership: What is agile leadership? The 10 principles

The authors

Oliver_Grätsch_550x550px
Oliver Grätsch
Michelle 550
Michelle Templin
Christian_Grätsch_1_550x550px
Christian Grätsch
Matthias-Beikert-550-550
Matthias Beikert
Susanne_Grätsch_1_550x550px
Susanne Grätsch
Monika Bt 550x550
Monika Steininger
Kai_Hübner_550x550px
Kai Hübner
Philipp Andresen 500x550
Philipp Andresen
berliner_team_Isabell_1
Anna Isabell Arendt
Claudia_Schmidt_550x550px
Dr. Claudia Schmidt
Inga_Kühn_550x550px
Inga Kühn
BT_Web_Team_Knebel_550x550
Kassandra Knebel
BT_Web_Team_Lehmann_550x550
Claudia Lehmann
Komplettes Team

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Berliner Team