Maturity, partnership, responsibility, transparent communication and company values have been the foundation of Unity Group since 1997. This has enabled us to build an organization that is constantly growing, provides a stable space for our employees and, above all, continuously delivers value to our customers and supports the development of their business. As a mature, experienced company, we know that sustainable business value is not only built in times of prosperity, and that the economic crisis mercilessly reveals weaknesses.
What have we done to ensure that the company – and thus also our customers – continue to function unwaveringly, despite the turbulent times that are following the pandemic?
We have referred to this very foundation…
The current situation of the deepening economic crisis has shown which values, approaches or concrete actions work best in the long term. It’s worth noting here that such economic changes resulting from the epidemic are not uncommon and did not occur as an isolated event. Economic crises, specifically those caused by epidemics, have become a permanent feature of this century. Practically every year we have seen similar events in different corners of the world. Each of these epidemics significantly influenced the life of societies and their habits, as well as the economic situation in a given region.
In the face of the current global economic slowdown, this time caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Unity Group had to act wisely and quickly. This agility lies in our company DNA. Within a few days, we pushed the whole company into remote operation and ensured operational efficiency in key processes.
Our initial scenario was similar to the actions implemented in many other companies. For Unity Group, it was not a revolution but an agile approach to the current, difficult reality. The organization was fully mobilized: we set up a crisis board and arranged regular, daily meetings. It was very important for us to react efficiently to the dynamically changing situation. We watched the market, talked to customers and organized the best possible flow of information within the company. We took concrete steps – from the very obvious ones, such as releasing desktop computers, purchasing additional laptops or ensuring better quality and security of transmitted data by configuring VPNs, to the more strategic ones, including the creation and transparent communication of three possible scenarios for Unity Group as a whole, to the quick implementation depending on further development of the macroeconomic situation and its real impact on our company. We knew that moving teams to a remote operation mode alone was not enough.
We wanted the organization to continue to function within the existing organizational culture and in accordance with our values, which are one of the core elements around which all of our teams, and the company as a whole, are built…
We started with ourselves to be able to support others
Every day at Unity Group, we promote an organizational culture focused on the independence and agility of both employees and teams. We built the company based on trust and a flat structure in which a role is much more important than a position in the hierarchy.
Our culture promotes attitudes of responsibility, cooperation and mutual assistance. We did not want these to be just slogans that look good in presentations or on posters hanging in the office. We implemented these values with full consistency, believing that we create an environment that supports commitment, courage, trust, respect and pride in who we are, how we operate and what we build for our clients.
So far, our efforts are succeeding during this crisis with proven success.
All our agile rituals have been transferred to teleconference modes. Online integration works perfectly in this difficult time of isolation. Our teams have organized internal trainings, interesting webinars, meetings for coffee on the web and virtual theme rooms – including a virtual kitchen where you can enter, talk and keep each other company. We know our employees and we know that we need to have individuality on board – we take care of everyone. As part of this, we’re striving to be open with everyone, understand their own unique needs and make ourselves available to them. We also wanted to take care of the comfort of remote working. Some have borrowed company equipment so that they can arrange their home offices as conveniently as possible.
The effect? No decrease in productivity and, in some cases, a significant increase. Our teams make their own decisions about the way they work, take care of their own cooperation, remain highly attentive our customers needs and quickly deliver very valuable solutions. We haven’t had to impose rules, order anything or limit anyone. Yes – we are proud. The lessons learned in our own backyard are also allowing us to effectively support our customers. We’re not only ready for the stable implementation of projects, but mobilized and determined to provide solutions that allow our customers to grow, develop and act in both the reality of the current crisis or in the upcoming period of economic recovery. Including strategies to get businesses online in 7 days (link is in Polish)
Organization in the new normality
We are facing another, in my opinion, more difficult period of so-called new normality, which will bring other challenges, changed rules of the game. It will not end with the launch of the next stages of lifting restrictions, which have caused a difficult situation for many entrepreneurs. We are entering the next level, so internally – as an organization – we want, we have to be prepared for it. For Unity Group, once again, this will mean drawing on…our foundation, our experience and well-established values.
We have always supported open communication within the organization; in the current situation, we are completely transparent. We speak openly about both current and future possible challenges. At the same time, we attach great importance to communicating successes, even the smallest ones, which may seem irrelevant to many, but as they say “a penny saved is a penny earned”. We clearly show the financial data of the company and we do not omit any facts or forecasts, whether they are made with the use of internal or external information. We always talk in full openness (“Ask Me Anything”), so that no voice or doubt is left unanswered.
In the communication layer, we have opted for the complete flattening of the structure. We organize informational meetings for all employees, for the first time completely online, which is about about 250 people. On a regular basis, we prepare summaries of the current situation, decisions made and actions taken – we send them in the form of open messages, again, to the whole company. The initial daily meetings of our crisis council’s leaders are now held on a weekly basis, with an additional possibility to convene ad hoc if the situation requires it. We monitor the course of events on an ongoing basis and invite our teams to engage in direct dialogue without hierarchy or traditional structures.
We were very keen to take care of the mental and physical comfort of everyone working in Unity Group. Our offices are not closed, we made sure that it is possible to stay in them safely, if someone has such a need – sometimes resulting from the necessity, and sometimes from the desire to change the environment, such as the view from the window. We try to understand such needs, and to meet them. We have provided psychological support for our employees. We have professionals and certified coaches on board; these people can be contacted if someone is upset or worried. Above all, however, we see that our employees take care of each other, help each other, stay alert and understanding that, if they see any problems, they should (and do) support each other.
In our daily work, we encourage our employees to develop by both gaining knowledge and sharing it with others. In a crisis situation, it’s important that we also provide non-business knowledge. Our teams organize training and webinars in this area, especially focused on topics important from the point of view of current challenges, e.g. psychological safety in remote work, the special role of a leader and his mental resilience as an individual, setting goals in a virtual team or even skills useful in managing one’s own finances in times of crisis. The sharing of knowledge and experience takes place in Unity Group constantly, regardless of the role played in the company.
A mature organization prepares for long-term scenarios. Both in the context of the internal functioning of the company and cooperation with our clients, we’ve to develop a plan for extended remote operation. Our teams are made up of experienced people, often with school or preschool children who will need care. From this point of view, we make sure that higher efficiency does not come at the expense of the so-called work-life balance, as well as relationships within the teams. We have been working with many clients for years, we have been working with many clients for years, as we don’t provide temporary projects or teams, and the involvement of individual units in their implementation is key to achieving above-average results. Therefore, we care about the welfare of our employees and the interests of our clients. We have repeatedly observed the rightness of this approach and its measurable benefits for all parties. The same approach is also manifested in sensitizing whole teams to listen to the needs of customers. In the current situation, these may be exceptional needs, resulting from an emergency, a difficult situation or the need to quickly transform traditional business models that will allow customers to survive. Our teams understand this perfectly.
Verification and enhancement
The corona-virus pandemic did not threaten our ability to operate and neither did it demolish the solid foundations on which Unity Group has been built on for over 20 years. However, it helped us develop our skills and competences. We already know that we have been successful not only in implementing projects, but also in other areas: HR, Marketing, Sales or Finance. We are able to use our experience to cooperate effectively. We are aware that it is not an art to develop business during the economic boom. Even in difficult times, we work as a team and are always ready to help our clients. Moreover, it is in a more difficult situation that we verify our know-how and sustain the company, strengthening relationships with clients who can always count on us. We are more committed, partnership-oriented and effective. We also see this turbulent time as a great opportunity for both us and our customers – we do everything to take advantage of it.
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