Welcome to the new normal

09.04.2020

Welcome to the new normal

I recently shared my sensations of our IPO four weeks ago. I felt the analogy of a determined ski jumper deciding to jump into a fog was quite fitting. I wrote that in Finnish suspecting that Finns in particular remember our young daredevil ski jumpers who used to bravely defy extreme conditions and come out as winners.

The COVID-19 pandemic is no competition, but a collective global survival game where social distancing has paradoxically brought people and businesses closer together than ever.

We have adapted to increasingly surreal conditions and thanks to everyone pulling together, we are fully operational and even more busy than before. It is humbling how fortunate we are that our line of business is not as vulnerable to total annihilation like many others. Still, we are not immune either and we have had to bend backwards to find suitable and effective counter measures.

Looking back at the past couple of weeks, instead of feeling paralyzed and trapped in a hopeless business situation, I have witnessed how things are mostly the same, but just in this new dimension. We have transitioned into an online and virtual modus operandi, where Teams, Skype, Facetime, Zoom and the likes are the new business and social fora.

Social gatherings, coffee-breaks, training, co-working, team-work, customer meetings, sales presentations have all successfully migrated online. At first glance, one might think that social distancing causes interactions to become impersonal.  

One discipline in particular I felt might not transition so well is recruiting. Firstly, in times of massive downsizing across most industries, recruiting does not seem like an obvious immediate priority. Will we also be forced to rather cut back than invest? Hoping not, this is still within the realm of possibilities.

Secondly, I wondered if it is possible to establish a sufficient trust relationship between the candidate and the interviewer? Online interviewing is nothing new, but making the final decision having never met in person is not very common in our industry.

Not surprisingly, we have a growing pipeline of applicants. The labor market is in turmoil and contaminated with uncertainty. Many are pre-empting being stuck in between jobs by casting their nets in all seven seas. Some are polishing their résumés and actively waiting for headhunters’ calls. Some consider now to be just the right time make their next move and selectively approaching some companies they follow.  Some are too busy to think ahead.

We have about 20 job openings in largely all of our functions, juniors, seniors, developers, sales, consultants etc. Continuing to recruit in times when I cannot solemnly swear we would not also have to temporarily downsize, is based on our long-term strategy.

The strategy is based on an expectation that when the pandemic blows over, the underlying megatrends of trend like growth in digital business will resurface again. Combined with revitalized growth budgets, the market will gradually normalize.  

I just recently welcomed a new employee on-line in our standard introduction meeting. Ironically, he was a corona survivor and could have even met in person, but I was in voluntary quarantine. I walked him through the early years of our company and we had a lengthy discussion about our strategy.

Starting the job in these days, especially in a customer-facing role must feel slightly intimidating. I have interviews lined up for next week and looking forward to meet with potential new colleagues. We have a lot of these going on and as we often engage also peer interviews in addition to those done by our people operations, many of are exposed to this new discipline.

On-line interviews might even reveal a more personal and candid side of the candidate. The interviews most often take place at their domicile and sessions have involved canine and feline guest stars.

We are getting used to this new normal and once this quarantine is over, it might take some time to adapt back to our former ways of working. I think that we might even hold on to some of the positive side effects and I really hope that the sudden uprising of phenomenal cooperation and global allegiance towards overcoming adversities prevails also beyond the pandemic.

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Mika Tanner

Bilot Alumni