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Lessons We Have Learned During the COVID-19 Pandemic…

Who could have known at the beginning of 2020 that our world would be turned upside down by a tiny organism without a name? By now, almost everyone on this planet knows what it looks like and what it is called – SARS-CoV-2, or more commonly, COVID-19.

In 2020, a total of 8.8% of global work hours were lost, impacting more than 2/3 of the global workforce (equivalent to 250 million jobs lost); the global economy contracted by an average of 4% (varying from +2.3% to -15% per country); 2.5 million are recorded to have lost their lives, and a myriad of emotional and psychological challenges have been thrown at us as a result of this pandemic.

When you are in the middle of change, it is easy to lose sight of what is actually changing and how it impacts you. We get busy with surviving and waste time on the things we can't control instead of the things we can control! In other words, we do exactly the opposite of what we should do to keep our head above water. During times of crisis, we should focus on the light in the tunnel – not the light at the end of the tunnel. We should focus on the things we can control and not on the things beyond our control!

Our team at KnowledgeWorkx spent some time reflecting on the past year and how we experienced this turbulent season. We believe we learned a lot in 2020 and wanted to share it with you, hoping that it will confirm, inspire, or challenge you to search for the light in the tunnel and stay focused on what you can control.

The bottom dropped out…

At the beginning of 2020, our portfolio for Q1 and Q2 was full: our team anticipated a good year ahead! By the end of February, we saw 90% of our portfolio wiped out. Although we had our time of denial (this will blow over quickly) and resistance (we can't change EVERYTHING we do overnight), we did pivot very fast and had to make fundamental changes.

The team pulled together, and we recognized this was going to be a tough year; consulting, training, and coaching were cut from our clients’ budgets, effectively eliminating our cashflow. We decided 2020 was going to be a manna-year instead of a year of bumper crops. We committed to keep everybody employed and revisited all expenses to see if more could be cut from our already lean-approach. The amazing thing was that some team members offered to take voluntary salary cuts.

On a webinar facilitated by Patrick Lencioni and the Table-Group, participants were given a challenge: "Clients will remember one thing: were you there for them during their time of crisis!" We took on that challenge for our clients and for our global Inter-Cultural Intelligence Practitioners network: our network consists of roughly 600 Practitioners in 70 countries around the world. We launched a community outreach initiative through virtual 'Deep Dives' and have continued to run those into 2021. The Deep Dives drew together our global practitioners network and resulted in equipping, connecting, and community building. Some practitioners said that the Deep Dives were the highlights that carried them through the challenging times. The Deep Dives proved invaluable for our team because they allowed us to test out virtual ways of delivering solutions that previously were only delivered in-person.

We also started to serve clients with smaller and more cost-effective ways to come alongside their teams. One client requested us to conduct weekly sessions to assist their intercultural team that was working from home, to stay connected and navigate the challenging season. This allowed us to be there for them and meet them practically and tangibly at their point of need.

Improving our workflow

Our KnowledgeWorkx team lives in the USA, Europe, Middle East, and Asia and so we had already been working virtually for the last 8 years. At the same time, we needed to improve the way we engaged and as such, we started daily check-ins for the core team.

We use Microsoft Teams for our daily check-ins and make sure significant points are typed up in a shared OneNote where all contribute to creating a historical record of our meetings.

Our global team meets twice every month to focus on the bigger-picture strategy and team development. We had the privilege of working with Linda Berlot, who took us through several ORSC team-development sessions - a fantastic way to bring the team closer together. We started to use Google Jamboard for visualizing our Big Picture and for developing Relational Strength on the team (e.g. affirmation boards for each team member, boards to flesh out what living out our core values means, a dream board for posting ideas).

We also use WhatsApp for daily communication on nuts and bolts-related stuff, and of course, email continues to be an important way to stay on top of tasks!

Our use of Office 365 has made it possible to work effectively across time-zones: our team is spread across 14 time zones. We use a predetermined way to name files, and we all use the same folder structure. This, combined with Office 365’s ability to work together on files in real-time, speeds up our delivery and completion cycles significantly: no more time is wasted on finding attachments, or not knowing the name of a file or where it might be stored.

We also had to create clear handover moments in our workflow, resulting in fast 24/7 circuit. Handover moments typically happen early morning, or mid evening, and involve a virtual live discussion on what has happened in the last 12 hours and what needs to happen in the next 12 hours ahead! It is exciting to know your colleague will continue the work while you are asleep.

Being a more human team