As of 1 June, we are slowly returning to our office desks and restart what seems to be our daily life before the lock-down. The good news is that the peak of the COVID-19 crisis seems behind us. So, we can take a bit of time to reflect on what we have gone through in the past two months. Here are some of our lessons learnt (so far) during this health crisis.
In January, the virus and a possible crisis seemed far way. Plans and strategies were underway as usual. In February, the numbers of infected people started to rise on our continent and it became clear that we would be confronted to something unprecedented. This was the time when the “what if?” questions started. What if we have to go into lock-down? What would happen if one of us gets sick? Or an entire team?
One single “What if” question led to a series of “how” questions. How would we ensure the continuity of our services and respect our engagements? How would we be able to support our customers? How would we protect those of us who are client-facing? These are just a couple of the questions that crossed our minds at that time.
By the end of February, we were already considering postponing any internal and external events and started to work on safety plans and “what if” situations. In early March, all became reality. First, to mitigate health risks, we have postponed/cancelled all events, business trips and outside meetings.
We made sure all of us were equipped to work from home. This included even our agents from the customer support center. Now they are able to take calls from home or work in an alternative location, if needed. All team members installed and tested new software and apps to manage to keep in touch with each other. We designated the minimal requirements and the key persons who had to be present on-site to ensure the availability of services. We had also started to take precautionary measures for our colleagues at the public reception desk and informed our customers about the changes in public openings. When the public authorities’ announcements were made, we were already ready to work from home 100% of the time. Only some minor adjustments were to be made. This had a positive impact on the next weeks to come.
What is one of the lessons learnt during this crisis? Do not wait until the last minute to act or react. Monitor possible situations that could impact your business activity and prepare for possible scenarios. This will reduce the strain on your business the first days of the crisis and gives you a bit more time to adapt to the new context.
Most large organisations already have a business continuity / crisis plan in place. So, they just need to adapt it. If it is not your case, start working on it early on. It takes time and, hopefully, you would not even need it, but it helps you be on top of the situation when the crisis arrives. For us, foreseeing the outcome and preparing a few weeks prior to the formal announcements and decisions made by the government was of great help in the following weeks.
This crisis has started as a health crisis that has impacted almost every aspect of our lives. Digital technologies, although not necessarily at the front line of the battle, had the potential to offer alternatives or new possibilities to keep the things going. So, we asked ourselves: how we can help? Which of our already designed solutions can be used/changed/developed to help people tackle the crisis?
LuxTrust has been providing e-signature solutions and a variety of digital services that could support people in doing business remotely for the past years. You may think that the beginning of the crisis found us in a privileged position. However, the needs and clients’ requests were different from what we were used to. In a nutshell, companies were looking for a fast and easy to integrate solution that could help them carry on their paper processes and workflows when their employees were working from home.
To stay relevant, we had to adapt some of our services in a very short time-frame to match the sense of urgency which dominated the first weeks of the crisis. Based on our main e-signature hub, COSI, we created a fast deployable spin-off solution, Simply COSI. Delivered in cloud, it can be up and running within 48 hours. It offers most of the main platform’s functionalities to fit companies’ stringent needs. It also offers them the opportunity to switch to the main on-premises solution once the crisis pressure eases on organisations.
Besides businesses, there was (still is) another group of people that need to carry on their administrative tasks. During the confinement period, private persons, citizens and independent professionals had to sign family leave requests, tax declarations, contracts etc. For them, we have developed a second spin-off of COSI. In COSI Home Edition, they can sign their PDF documents electronically from home and free of charge.
What is one of the lessons learnt during this crisis? Each type of crisis will affect differently each sector. You must determine how it will impact your area of business and what you can do to stay relevant. Some solutions may be more evident than the others, but listen to your clients and give your best to change, modify or even develop new solutions for them. By using what we already had and be willing to adapt it in a timely manner to match market need, we were able to support both businesses and our end customers.
Be transparent is a well-known prerequisite of any relationship based on trust. It applies to customers, business partners and employees all the same. While customers come first and a lot of the communication efforts are directed to informing them and showing your support, the other stakeholders should not be neglected. Early in the crisis, we communicated our security measures and business continuity plan to our business partners and suppliers. We wanted to assure them that we could continue our services despite the upcoming situation.
At every stage of the crisis, our management and HR teams sent us clear, organized communication about the decisions taken, safety measures and how to proceed further. All this was in a recurrent manner, reminding to count on their support and advising to us to put our health and that of our families first. By providing guidelines and frames, they ensured that the activities can be carried in safe way. By offering support and understanding, they reduced anxiety among employees and helped them cope with the new situation easier.
The months ahead still remain uncharted waters. There is still a lot of uncertainty around many of our activities, around the virus, treatments and so on. What we noticed is that digital solutions and technologies (not just ours) have gained a more established role in society. They have become much like utilities (energy, water). Without them, our lives and businesses would have regressed to a time when most of us would not have been born yet. What are your lessons learnt from this crisis?