Crisis Management: establishing stable operations and optimal team efficiency

Author Dorian Derežić
Category Company
Date Mar 18, 2020
9 min read

In two days, we went from being a company that only thought about one day being able to organize wide-scale remote work to having all of our employees working from home without any issues.

Bornfight was never a remote-first company. Yeah, we work remotely with our international clients, so we already adopted a lot of remote work methodologies and processes that enabled us to streamline this transition. But we never conducted any larger experiments that would give us some deeper insight on what would it be like to have all of our employees work from home and how it would affect the way we operate as a company. You know, we really cherish that aspect of togetherness we have by working alongside each other in the office, so ‘remote work’ at Bornfight was just about giving every member of the team the option to spend a few days a month working from home if they wanted to – it was never anything larger or more complex than that. Well, until now!

We took this current situation very seriously, so every single member of our team is safe at home. There’s no point risking it when we can work just as efficiently and deliver everything as planned.

Tomislav Grubišić

Bornfight CEO

Even though our government is currently only advising people to work from home (it’s not yet a direct order) if they can, we decided to use this latest crisis as a push to go all in on remote work, so this blog will be more like a small case study in which we’ll explain all of the decisions we made and activities we conducted in order to go from non-remote to full-remote in 2 days. And if some of them can help your company implement remote work during this period, all the better.

OK, let’s get to it!

Have a dedicated transition team

Making sure that a company with 70+ people goes full-remote in a couple of days is a challenging task, but it would be so much more challenging, maybe even impossible, if it weren’t for our Work From Home support team.

Spearheaded by our CEO, Operations Manager and HR team, WFH makes sure that we all have the necessary tools, information and guidelines that would allow us to fully focus on our part of the job – delivering top-notch software, mobile apps and websites.

In addition to writing down the documentation explaining how our processes will change now that we’re working from home and how we should approach work, providing us with some of the most important pieces of information about working remote, keeping us constantly in the loop regarding the current situation and ensuring that we have all the equipment we need (and I really mean all the equipment – the chair I’m sitting on at the office, I’m sitting on it right now as it was just delivered to me yesterday), they are also our full-time support ready to help us or solve any challenge we might have with working from home.

Having a team like that by your side doesn’t just enable you to focus on your work, it’s also a prerequisite for quick and easy implementation of the other elements we’ll talk about in this blog.

One of the key elements that enabled us to switch so quickly is our Work From Home team that consists of our Operations Manager and HR department. Having a team that’s fully dedicated was instrumental to making this work smoothly.

Tomislav Grubišić

Bornfight CEO

Communicate, communicate, comunicate

To give you a great representation of what a good internal communication strategy looks like, take a look at this timeline of our internal activities.

  • March 12th – we held the first ‘all hands on deck’ meeting about this crisis and decided that the 16th of March will be the day when we’ll all be working remotely.
  • After the meeting, we all got an email with a detailed follow up – everything we mentioned during the meet was in that document.
  • March 13th – we got the first email update with our CEO’s thoughts about the current situation and a concept of Bornfight going full remote.
  • March 13th – we got an email from our Operations Manager with all of the documents and guidelines regarding remote work.
  • March 15th – another email from our Operations Manager with some quick updates regarding remote work that starts on the following day.
  • March 16th – another email from our CEO that gives a detailed overview of the current state of Bornfight, as well as the next steps that the company will take.
  • After that email, we get a new one from our Head of Finance informing us on a few new policies that Croatian government will be discussing in the following days (to minimize the crisis’ effect on Croatian economy).
  • By the end of the day, we got another email from our CEO that gave us the brief overview of the meetings he had with our clients and their take on this crisis, as well a couple of viable scenarios for the company going forward.
  • March 17th – morning update from our CEO who now gave us a step by step plan that the company will be doing over the next period to minimize the impact of this crisis.
  • Another email from our Head of Finance that gave us a detailed overview of all the policies the Government passed.

This blog is published on Wednesday, the 18th of March, and as you can see from this timeline, all members of Bornfight are being constantly updated on the latest developments regarding the state of the company, the effect of this crisis and the future steps we’ll be taking.

Communicating like this with your employees and being fully transparent is extremely important as it minimizes the element of uncertainty and lowers any potential stress that might come as a result of an ongoing crisis. This has a positive effect as it shows your employees that you have the situation under control and that they can focus on their work – as I said in a previous blog, this action not only alleviates the negative effect a crisis may have on the effect of your employees, but it also has a positive effect on your financial stability.

Make sure your employees are fully equipped

In order for all our team members to be able to work from home, they need to have all of the tools and technology at their disposal – access to laptops and smartphones are just a part of the equation.

At Bornfight, our WFH team organized so that we can take anything we might need:

  • Laptops – CHECK
  • Smartphones – CHECK
  • Tablets – CHECK
  • Dongles (we work on MacBooks, so #DongleLife is our daily routine) – CHECK
  • Extra monitor – CHECK
  • Second extra monitor – CHECK
  • Testing smartphones – CHECK
  • WiFi routers (for just in case) – CHECK
  • Any other peripheral – CHECK
  • Office chairs (you read that right) – CHECK

And if some of us couldn’t take some of that home during our last day at the office, they organized delivery for everybody (now you know how I’m sitting on my office chair at home).

Ensure continuous delivery

We may no longer work from the office, but our mindset and approach to projects is still the same. As we already work with a lot of international clients, we adopted a lot of remote work methodologies that enable us to keep delivering at a rapid pace, while simultaneously keeping our clients constantly in the loop.

Here’s what that approach consists of:

  • Everything revolves around agile and Scrum – this enables us to be fully organized and create at a very fast pace, while also being extremely flexible when it comes to adapting to our clients’ needs
  • All documents are in the cloud – nothing is stored locally because cloud enables us to quickly access anything from anywhere and onboard new people onto the project in a matter of moments
  • Project onboarding is rapid – the time needed to upgrade a team with new people is minimal in order to accommodate changes in our clients’ needs
  • Communication and organization are centralized – we use project management tools like Jira and communication tools like Slack while we work on projects, so that everything is easily accessible both for us and clients
  • Transparency on all levels – clients we work with know exactly how we’re progressing at any moment

We work remote with a majority of our clients, so we know how crucial good communication is. With this new situation, we’re just kicking it up a level since all of us are also remote.

Tomislav Grubišić

Bornfight CEO

Take your HR processes from offline to online

Switching from office work to remote work means some of the processes will need to be adjusted in order to maintain the same level of efficiency and workflow the team was accustomed to while at the office.

This is especially true when it comes to HR processes like onboardings, recruiting, conducting interviews, psychological testing. As we can no longer do them from the office, we tailored them to fit the online format a little bit better.

When it comes to recruitment, we shifted the entire process online – we are now conducting virtual testing, interviews are conducted through video calls… and everything is going according to the plan. There was a bit of an adjustment period with the first interview, but now it’s almost the same as our regular in-office selection process.

As for the onboarding, switching it was even quicker as all of our documents are already online, we just implemented the video chat component as opposed to regular in-person educations, and it works like a charm.

Another aspect that needed to be switched was the leadership and mentorship – to make sure all of our team members have full support from their mentors, team leads and heads of departments, we advised them to increase the level of communication between team members. When you’re at the office, you can easily see when a member of your team needs assistance, but you can’t do that from home – that’s why we now placed an even bigger emphasis on communication.

Create financial strategies and scenarios

Ensuring that your company has a steady cash flow is important at any moment, and especially so when a crisis is around. During a crisis, every company gets hit because the entire market is connected – that’s just inevitable. But how hard will a company get hit, that’s something we can work on.

To make sure Bornfight experiences as little of that negative effect as possible and that we all stay together as a team, we created a set of scenarios that represent how the crisis might affect us in the following months with different tiers of severity. And we use those scenarios, combined with the overview of the global market to adjust our business strategies, KPI’s and the overall cash flow.

Our top priority is to protect the current team, as that team will ensure we can successfully navigate out of this crisis – that is why people and their salaries are the most protected aspect of any cost-cutting plan we might have to implement during this crisis.

Don’t forget about your office

On the 12th of March, we decided that Monday the 16th will be the day when we’ll be closing our office and going full remote for 2 weeks (possibly more – depending on the situation with COVID-19 and the general situation in Croatia). But just because we’re not there doesn’t mean that we completely forgot about it.

The first thing we did – we cleared out all of the necessary equipment and then completely disinfected the entire office. Better safe, than sorry!

After that, we contacted all of our clients and informed them that all of our planned in-person meetings, educations and product discovery workshops will be held online. Also, since we’re constantly either hosting or providing space for meetups, we postponed all of our events and informed our partners that they won’t be able to use the space for their meetups during this period.

We also have our Work From Home team and Office department on standby if anything out of the ordinary occurs, or if some of our team members will need anything extra from the office!

Maintain the team spirit

This last part is all about staying connected while we’re physically apart. As a company that really thrives on togetherness and has a strong company culture, we’re doing the most to continue with our team activities, whether it’s taking a break together, having lunch, hanging out after work… the only difference is that now it’s all digital.

From day 1 of our remote work journey, we started simulating our in-office kitchen and having lunch together – we’d just join a video call with others, eat, chat, have fun. True, watching a bunch of people eating on your laptop screen took a bit of getting used to, but it was fun and felt like our regular lunch.

To push it a bit further, we’re also in the process of creating our virtual lounge where anyone could join in and just hang out with anyone else who’s currently connected. Keep in mind that maintaining the team spirit is important during times like these, so do what you can to really boost it!

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