In this challenging and unprecedented period, even the most flexible companies wondered if they would adapt quickly enough to operating in an altered setting, weighing the pros and cons of each move very carefully.
Make no mistake, we were also seriously concerned. The only way to mitigate possible danger at such times is to act fast. Here is what helped us get ahead quickly:
- We swiftly moved to a full remote mode a week before most companies (March 13)
- Working remote came naturally to us as it’s been part of our culture for years
- 2 in-house psychologists held many sessions (group, private, and public), and still do
- All technical equipment was made available to take home
- Founders’ consistent and full transparency made a huge difference to everyone
- Strong culture and healthy interpersonal bonds played a key role
The “not so good”
- All events had to switch to a virtual setting (which turned out to be very cool)
- No traveling or lunches together (a big bummer)
- No Chillouts; our favorite after-work past time playing pool and darts at Mr & Mrs. Cue
- General uncertainty about well-being, but also business
We shared the good and the bad – together, with everyone on board.
Our CEO Global – Sanin stated that many IT companies have been operating under, what most of the world sees as the “state of emergency”, for a very long time now, referring to remote work, location independence, and agile adaptivity, among other things.
What the whole world saw as “emergency measures”, we saw as an extension of our standard operating procedures. We immediately updated and activated our Business Continuity plans with a special focus on Full Remote, IT Operations, Data-driven Triggers, Mental Health. Still, like in every new situation, there were lessons to be learned:
Full transparency builds unbreakable bonds and winning teams – even though we encourage remote work and are used to leveraging communication tools, staying on the same page with a team of 200+ is still a challenge. We introduced 3 regular weekly get-togethers:
Watch and Learn – a Monday educational session where members of the team share their project, certification, or technology experiences.
Break the Week – a Wednesday session featuring guest-lecturers from various fields, or an in-house expert on topics like time management, mental health, productivity and similar. We hosted amongst others: Maja Hadžiselimović (robotics), Haris Hadžić aka SpaceLufter (coding music), Una Mesić (SOS Kinderdorf)..
Coffee with the Founders – a Friday get-together where we openly talk about our concerns and wins, ask our questions, suggest ideas, share some jokes, hear about all ongoing and “in the pipeline” project statuses, and hear important office updates directly from our founders.
Quizzes – We do enjoy a good quiz, so we incorporated many along the way. Winners had their prizes hand-delivered to their doorsteps!
Healthy surprises – Every employee got the sweetest delivery – premium raw cakes ordered from a local baker Amel Mukača (Fress).
Community support – We managed to launch a voucher platform called “Podrži Omiljene” where any local business can register to get support from their regular (or new!) customers.
We bought 200 tickets for our National Museum, donated IT equipment, partnered up with BH Futures Foundation to help with scholarships, volunteered to be mentors and speakers on multiple programs and webinars, got even more engaged with SOS Kinderdorf (the largest non-governmental organization focused on supporting children without parental care and families at risk) with many Maestral members becoming “Patrons” to SOS families, etc.
The current normal
All entertainment, education, contribution, support and virtual state of work aside, when will our offices be fully operational and open?
Here is a direct quote from our General Manager Mersed’s recent e-mail:
Thank you for all your hard work during this long period of remote work. Also, thank you for your patience regarding the return to the office plan. We can never be too careful when our health is in question, so you will understand our cautiousness.
Who comes back in Phase 1 from June 15?
You had an opportunity to state your need or wish to return to the office in the polls at the start of the week. We are now ready to roll out Phase 1 of the Return to Workplace Guide..”
As you can see, a group of people returning to the physical office are the ones who expressed an absolute wish to return as soon as possible. The entire office is “reorganized” according to medical and space planning experts’ recommendations, and ready to facilitate the Maestral Phase 1 group properly.
When will the second and third phase roll out – we don’t know. It depends on many external factors, but we are ready for pretty much any scenario. Here is a glimpse into our all-covering Return to Workplace Guide:
Changes that are here to stay
Communication – Getting used to asynchronous communication is not easy. That’s why we’ve created Communication Guidelines with easy-to-follow steps for every working mode. We’ve definitely upped our game when it comes to creating smooth and effective procedures for various scenarios that may occur.
Hot-desking – Since we have never ever been in the office in full capacity (due to many “remoters”), dozens of tables and spaces remain empty. Every single day. SO, we’ve decided to give hot-desking a try. Each team will have a designated area, but not designated tables and monitors. You can sit wherever you want. The phase 1 group is currently having a blast at work – so they say.
Certifications and Blogs – Many of us found time to finish certificates we always wanted and to try out blog writing. Both activities proved to be very satisfactory to a number of people who didn’t manage to find time for it before. We’re cheering for this trend to continue growing, as there is nothing more awesome than seeing Maestral people achieve new heights! Two of our people even got recognized by Medium editors and their blog posts got featured among recommended software engineering articles! Check out our blogs here.
We’re most appreciative of the fact that the entire crew is healthy and well, and we admire the level of engagement and productivity they displayed in these times of uncertainty. There is literally nothing we can’t handle as a team.