Raluca Dorobanțu, General Manager of Chairry Contract Furniture
Tell us about what happened with you & your company in the first weeks of this crisis.
When this crisis started and everything was quite unclear for everyone, we made sure that we took all the safety measures necessary for our colleagues (employees), so that we could continue our activity. Thinking of our clients, we took care to complete the deliveries we had in progress.
We also made the necessary arrangements so that our team could work from home. These adjustments were quite easy, since most of them already had laptops, and in addition we have already had implemented an online communication platform for chats and videoconferences. It took us almost one week to make things going smoothly in terms of working and communicating.
What are your company’ top 5 priorities in this period?
Considering the fact that all the working and public spaces were being closed, and since our market is providing furniture for Horeca, Offices and Public spaces, we tried to reduce our costs as much as we could. Our priority was to keep a steady line, without oscillations, regarding the connection with our business partners and customers, the expenditure budget recalculated on the basis of the new sales estimates and keeping all our employees, without changes within the team.
So, my priorities were: keeping the entire team, keeping the business afloat, finding new opportunities and new solutions to adjust to the new reality.
What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?
One of the challenges I had to face was remote management. Sometimes it may be quite difficult to keep the connection between the team members by distance, each of them being in a different corner of the city. But we lined up and decided to get in touch with each other almost daily, by phone or video conferencing, and thus we kept being positive and encourage one-another.
Another challenge was to see the sales decreasing, as the interest of the market for new projects and investments dropped down. So, with all the given conditions, we had to search, adapt, diversify our offer with new products, seek for new opportunities and niches to other fields like medical, protective transparent panels, B2C e-commerce.
How did you adapt to the new working conditions?
It was relatively easy for us to adapt to the new working conditions, having everything we needed handy and functional. Especially since our working stile is already modular and flexible, in terms of furniture and Cool Working trend we are implementing.
How did you organize your workspace at home? How does your office look like?
I have a separate office area at home, so I can easily work without being perturbed by my family members. It is a bright and spacious place where I have all the necessary working and interconnectivity tools. But, when the weather outside is permitting, I often choose to move my office outside. I find a corner in the garden and I enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful nature around me, while working on my laptop.
How do you stay motivated and productive? – tips & tricks of WFH
I keep my productivity by detaching myself and avoiding all the things that can distract my attention from what I have to complete. I always focus best in a quiet and calm environment.
Motivation comes from an inner place; it is in the way I am built to be. I have always considered that an optimistic point of view is better, even in the most unpleasant moments in life. You have to keep looking forward, beyond the immediately problems of the present, to look for new possibilities, stay alert and take all the necessary actions, step by step. This is what keeps me going on.
What do you miss from the “old days” when you were at the office?
I really miss seeing my colleagues on a daily basis, the visits and working meetings with the company`s partners and collaborators, the face-to-face conversations, making new connections… I miss those sounds of the city.
How do you personally manage work-life balance during this period?
Sometimes, when you frequently work from home, it may be confusing to distinguish between the working days and the weekends, fact that may lead to lack of productivity and enthusiasm. This is why I strongly believe that it is necessary to keep your working habits from the office, with a similar working agenda. I keep my usual working schedule, even if I am working from home and my husband does the same. Meanwhile, our kids take their classes and do their homework and, at the end of the program we are all free to spend our time together in different family activities.
How do you use in your advantage “the quarantine time”?
This time of isolation can also bring personal benefits. With all the chaos of everyday life, you often find the excuse of not having time. And suddenly, here it is – The Time! Sometimes I think that God wanted to teach us a lesson, to make us think about our own self, to show us we have to rediscover and reconsider our thoughts and future actions. This is the time we all have left aside: the time to relax, to rediscover, to evaluate, to spend more time with yourself and with the whole family. I think now everyone learned to treasure the real values of life, nature, health, and joy.
As for me, during this period I found the time to learn new things I didn`t knew, I read interesting facts and I watched several inspiring online interviews with remarkable people in different fields.
Looking back at the last month, do you have a favourite moment?
My favorite moment is by far the one of the Easter holidays. It was a real indulging mini vacation for us, full of joys and family surprises. Another precious moment was the one when the kids met the newest member of our family – our puppy, Lexi. The children love dogs and they wanted for a long time to have one, so we decided this is the best time to fulfill their wish, with all of us at home.
What activities do you enjoy engaging in as a family or by yourself?
I like to run in the morning or walk in the evenings. When I go jogging, it relaxes me, helps me gather my thoughts and gives me an excellent life tonus. But what I like most is spending my time with my family. We have various activities in the garden, family games, basketball, family movie night with popcorn made by kids. Lately, more than ever, we even cook together or have a reading club in the evening, when one of us reads something and all the others listen.
What habit, mechanism or idea will you preserver for your professional and personal life when quarantine will end?
In our professional life, as entrepreneur, I think it is a good idea to combine sometimes working from office with working from home. Also setting online appointments and meetings may be a perfect way you can save a lot of time spent in traffic.
On a personal level, it is good to remember to be more careful with your own time, to spend more time in nature than indoors, to try to dedicate more time to your loved ones.
What will be your company’ first 3 priorities when the lock down is over?
When the state of emergency ends and we get out of isolation, our company’s priority will be the customers. We need to let them know we are back, that we diversified our products and that we are always close and ready to help them with everything they need, as we have always been.
However, it is also a priority to ensure a safe working environment for our employees returning to the office.
And last, but not least, it is the concern for promoting new products, searching for new business opportunities, we are working on an online shop and look for extending to new business lines such as medical field, providing furniture for hospitals and clinics.