Looking back at 2020, Covid has impacted Friisberg & Partners International Denmark in ways we did not expect. First we saw several assignments being postponed, but already after a 3 month period, all assignments but 1 were up and running again. From then it was our job to ensure that we still delivered the best candidates to our clients, and this meant that we had to re-evaluate our processes. During the re-evaluation of our processes, the Friisberg network was of great help. We participated in several weekly meetings to share success stories of how Friisberg was conducting their recruitments without any physical contact at all.
We have also had great success and benefited from Friisberg group meetings regarding new articles to gain interest in the Friisberg brand among customers. At one point all Partners were asked to contact 5 customers to interview them in regards to how they were changing their organization, processes and strategies to suit the Covid-situation; the interviews I conducted ended up being a great entry angle into communicating with customers, during a time where they down prioritized communication with headhunters.
There is no doubt that Covid has taken its toll on us, but being a part of Friisberg has ensured that we have never felt alone. Through network groups we shared work experiences and through our virtual ‘Friday Bars’ we were all able to laugh and share funny anecdotes from the Covid-home-life.
Had we known in 2019 what we know now… I am not sure exactly what we could have done any differently. Maybe we would have delayed the opening of a new office from December until after the pandemic had passed, but, who really knew what was coming? The great strength of Friisberg has always been our collective spirit. I’ve been a Friisberg Partner for ten years now and in that time I have come to realise that we can always rely on one another. We can and do entrust valued client relationships to each other, and our clients clearly like that we have such mutual strong trust that we can “team up” to work more effectively on their assignments.
It’s that very same “team up” ethos that has seen Friisberg through this crisis. Thankfully the UK firm has continued to function fully, and has not had to cutback at all – and a very big thank you to our clients for keeping us so busy – but the way we work has changed so much. I was asked a few years ago to be the lead partner on our digital strategy. We selected Microsoft 365 for its collaborative sharing capability, which has made cross-border and multi-partner co-operation on international client assignments so very easy. So, when Covid-19 hit, we simply embraced the built-in "Teams" function for all our online meetings… and I’ve seen more of my Friisberg Partners online in the last six months than I have in most of the past six years.
They say adversity brings people together. It certainly has. It also reveals their “true colours”. I am proud to be in such a genuine Partnership – in every positive sense of that word. We have decided things together and supported each other and taken care to ensure none of us has been left behind… Brexit may finally happen next month, but this UK business still has the best of friends, and in all the right places!
Over the years we have experienced several crisis situations, and I have realized that it is important not to get lost, to trust yourself and make decisive decisions quickly.
Over the past months we have worked from home, met in our office when we could and sadly informed some temporary workers that we could not provide a guarantee of ongoing employment.
However, with our prudent management we have had a successful year the future looks promising.
Despite our success, we have remained ready to help our Partners who have faced more adversity than in Lithuania. We have continued to work with them to attract potential Clients and help financially if the need arose. That is how I understand the Friisberg Partnership – we work together in the good and bad times and are always there to support one another.
By April all our people in Friisberg’s Budapest office were working from home, managing ongoing assignments and searches, but acquiring few new Clients. Luckily, we were not alone we liaised closely with Friisberg globally learning how others managed this unprecedented situation. Our collective consciousness, together with the knowledge and experience of my colleagues in other countries, proved invaluable to us in Budapest.
Despite of losing 80% of our business in value during April and May, we did not even talk about making any of our consultants leave our Budapest office, but instead we tried to figure out doable actions to keep them on payroll and keep the business alive.
Friisberg Hungary is a member of one the largest business communities in Hungary. The (large) invoice came in July (when else?!) to cover the next 12 months’ membership fee.
As we had decided to optimize all possible operation costs – except labour – I told them we would suspend our membership and hopefully rejoin later in 2021. “We cannot let you go!” they replied, “We understand your situation, so your membership is for free for 3 months. You can pay later. We understand and feel your situation!” Friisberg Hungary was obviously a great Client for them and I decided to act the same way with my valued Clients.
By mid November 2020, our business, though it has not reached the level of last year’s volume, looks promising and we are about to make some new additions to our team making the Budapest office even more dynamic.
(President, Friisberg & Partners International)
There is no doubt that Covid-19 has created a massive humanitarian challenge as well as numerous challenges for all businesses, including our own. At Friisberg & Partners, we have chosen to see this moment as a unique opportunity for re-calibration, with positive implications for our organization. Over the past months I have pushed myself and our global team to think about how we use this inflection point to reimagine our potential together.
How do we learn from this and evolve better for the future?
This has been an opportunity to reset how we work together, how we can learn from each other. Our weekly calls and Teams meetings, where we discussed ways of handling the crisis, were extremely helpful. This shared experience connects us, binds us closer together and gives us all added perspectives on how we can build on our pandemic experience to refocus our interest on shared success.
It can be difficult to maintain, grow, and develop company culture when most of us are working from home - and will probably be doing so for months to come. Your remote team culture will flourish or fail, purely on communication. Get communication wrong, and you’ll find that your culture just won’t stick.
When we can’t bump into colleagues in the lift, put the world to rights by the water cooler or have an impromptu lunch to chat about life, the universe and everything, teams can become disparate and misaligned. I have been chatting with our clients recently and here are some of their best ideas to keep remote workers feeling part of the wider team: