Mihai Arghire, the General Manager at Brightway
Tell us about what happened with you & your company in the first weeks of this crisis.
From the end of January, when China went in lockdown and the virus started to spread around the world, I knew that the outbreak would have an impact on Romania soon. Even if all the projects were still on, we started to develop solutions that could help our clients in a crisis period. Also we built a plan to deliver all of our training and consultancy programs through online platforms and we worked hard to adapt our processes in this matter.
The first weeks of the crisis were a period of constant changes. We had daily meetings during which we decided what actions we would take that day. We started to implement safety measures in classroom training programs like taking the temperature of participants before entering the training room. Also, all participants were required to fill up a self-declaration form to confirm their health status and the fact they didn’t have interactions with potential infected people. We implemented a safety distance between people and gradually we started to translate projects from classroom and face-to-face meetings to online environment.
At a personal level I felt more pressure than usual in the firs weeks and I dealt with many business contacts that were in a panic state and tend to take emotional decisions. My main focus was to empathize with everyone and direct people to rational solutions and a more optimistic view of the current situation. Even in the context of a pandemic outbreak we can find a lot of positive aspects and opportunities.
What are your company’ top 3 priorities in this period?
- Keeping our colleagues physical/emotional health and motivation level high. In the training and consultancy business people are the main assets that make things happen. We do our best to keep our talents close, even in difficult times.
- Maintaining our current projects and finding new business opportunities. We are an entrepreneurial company and we activate in an industry that is and will further be financially affected by the coronavirus outbreak. If we want to reach our targets we have to constantly find new clients, create new and innovative revenue streams.
- Accelerating the projects for digitalizing and automating our activity. In the last 3 years we took clear steps in these directions, but now all projects for digitalization and automation are in our focus more than ever.
What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?
We have a reputation for practical training programs, business simulations and different tools that facilitate experiential learning. Our main challenges were to build an online training design that ensures all those things and to gain our clients’ trust in order to continue on-going projects in an online format.
My colleagues and me worked very hard during the last months in order to keep the quality of or services and adapt to the new context. We had higher work volumes than before the isolation period. I am proud to say that we did a great job and we exceeded our clients’ expectations.
How did you adapt to the new working conditions?
We had a flexible working hours and work from home facilities for our colleagues before the outbreak so the new working conditions weren’t totally new to our team. Of course the isolation period and the general uncertainty put an emotional pressure on us too.
I am an action oriented person, my daily routine before the isolation period consisted in several meetings, training programs which I delivered, going out after work with friends and travelling in weekends. So the isolation period was not easy to bear, I changed my habits and replaced the old routines with new ones.
I started daily video meetings with the team, internal workshops that address current changes for each role and assured everyone of our business continuity policy. I implemented more agile processes in our operational management system.
In the first isolation days I had tendency to overwork so I set clear hours for finishing work. I started replacing going out with online meetings, doing sport more often, cooking and completing DIY projects around the house.
How did you organize your workspace at home? How does your office look like?
I already had a room in the house for the times I worked from home, now I just brought more stuff from the office in order to do my job. In this matter I am lucky because I can keep working space separate from the personal environment.
How do you stay motivated and productive? – tips & tricks of WFH
If constants that people live by disappear suddenly it can be hard to focus your mind on a task and be productive. It is needed to create healthy routines adapted to the new context and people should find their own rhythm. For me it worked to define a clear spot in the house as a workspace that is separated from the rest of the environment, to set fixed working hours, to find new fun and interesting activities to do in my spare time, to do sport more often.
What do you miss from the “old days” when you were at the office?
I miss human contact, socializing, driving my car to work and going out. I can’t wait the moment in which things will gradually start to go back to normal, even if it would be a new kind of normality until a vaccine is discovered.
How do you personally manage work-life balance during this period?
I think the previous answers cover this question.
How do you use in your advantage “the quarantine time”?
I started to do the things I postponed in the last months or even years. Professionally I started working at new training designs and at a digital platform that we are planning to launch in 2021. On a personal level I read more, I spend quality time with my family and also I am doing more activities related to my hobbies, which is really nice.
Looking back at the last month, do you have a favourite moment?
Time passes different in isolation and the whole last month seems now like a moment. I remember with a lot of joy when I cut my nephew’s hair. My nephew and I live door to door and we have a common yard so I guess having my extended family near me is another thing that I am thankful for.
What activities do you enjoy engaging in as a family or by yourself?
With my family I like to play in the garden and do outdoor activities, the little garden we have it’s my happy place these days. Also I engaged more in sports and cooking activities. The lockdown was a good period for me regarding my healthy living habits.
What habit, mechanism or idea will you preserver for your professional and personal life when quarantine will end?
At work I will continue to implement with a high priority digitalization and automation projects. Also I strongly believe that people are eager to start working at full capacity and I will continue to be a vector of motivation for others. I want to help people to find the positive aspects of this period and discover inner resources to overcome these difficult moments.
As for my personal life, I will keep the new healthy habits I developed in isolation period and make room for more time dedicated to my hobbies.
What will be your company’ first 3 priorities when the lock down is over?
The first 3 priorities after the lockdown will remain the same as the 3 top priorities now: keeping our colleagues physical/emotional health and motivation level high, maintaining our current clients and finding new business opportunities, accelerating the projects for digitalizing and automating our activity.