Maryna Hryhoryeva, HRD KNESS Group

The office under lockdown:
how a business can survive the crisis
Under the quarantine, the role of the communication in the team is high as never before. When not only your company but the whole world is in a difficult situation – it is important to speak directly, openly, no to hide any information.

Information flows never stop – the main point is to learn how to stay tuned and keep the balance, to stay sane and productive. In KNESS company we already use familiar mailings via internal communication channels, as well as search for new ways of constant connection with our colleagues. One of them is the weekly CEO's video addresses to the team. They resonate with the staff because they provide an insight into the real situation in the company; everyone can openly or anonymously ask a troubling question and get an answer. To support the team spirit at such times, official communications are accompanied by fun ones. So we created a separate chat for open communication among the employees where they can share memes and jokes.

Today, a lot of information is coming from various sources, including the fake one, that is why it is important to give our employees only verified facts about the COVID-19 symptoms and ways to prevent it, to convey the importance of self-isolation. We created an instruction manual where we clearly described how to protect yourself and your family and what rules should be observed at work, given the peculiarities of various departments. We posted this magazine in open access in social media because this information is vital for everyone, it can save lives.

We approached work during the lockdown on an individual basis. Everyone who can work remotely switched to the remote regime, for which we provided all the conditions. However, some of our team members need to be present in the offices or at the manufacture every day or from time to time – so the arrangements were made to ensure people's safety at the workplace: we provided sanitizers, gloves, and masks. In the offices, apart from everyday cleaning, all surfaces are disinfected during the day; disinfecting carpets are placed at the entrances to the building; temperature screening is performed. Due to the fact that public transportation is not available at the moment, a transfer service works for the employees. All travels are minimized. Meetings are conducted through videoconferencing.
A new format has predictably changed work processes. Managers communicate more with their teams by phone or using videoconferencing services. However, we observe that connections in the team have not broken up. The team works as before – equally focused; everyone is involved in business processes. Such working arrangements are, to some extent, a challenge to the management because they require more effort for organizing, administering, setting and controlling tasks. Permanent interaction is crucial here.

From my experience – the efficiency of the remote work largely depends on the corporate culture in the company. KNESS has always been encouraging the independence of its staff; that is why it was not that difficult to reformat work. Performance is something about responsibility and commitment to results. If all that is present in a team, a new work format will not affect the outcome.
The remote work exposed the unity of values in the team. Indeed, employees oriented towards cooperation, performance, and team results remain the same no matter whether they are physically in the office or not.