As we all know, the very beginning of 2020 hardly resembled even a glimpse of its entirety.
With the onset of the pandemic, the entire world’s socio-economic landscape had completely warped. People from all walks of life had to learn how to re-navigate and re-grasp every aspect of their everyday life.
While this brought about lots of uncertainty at first, little by little, we found ways to adjust and adapt as best as we could. Pairing research with creativity, we did our very best to innovate and regain control of our lives.
With every new challenge, comes an opportunity for learning and improvement after all.
Fortunately enough, despite the challenges of today, xDNA Digital Agency has risen up not only as a survivor but also now as a strong thriver in both the UK and the Philippines. We came into 2020 with only 10 staff and are now entering into 2021 with 38.
Having acquired Fluid Studios and Big Reach Marketing, two digital and marketing agencies from the UK, and hiring more staff all working remotely across different time zones and locations – we now cater to over 1000 customers.
This article hopes to inspire and encourage employees and companies who have found difficulty in adjusting to the new normal, to consider new approaches that could ultimately improve their chances of success in the long run.
1. Smoothening Transitions
At the start of the pandemic, xDNA’s management immediately got to work laying down the foundations to help employees ease into their new remote work routines and dynamics as smoothly as possible.
Anticipating all kinds of changes and restructuring, it’s best to keep a flexible mindset and maintain open communication lines to welcome in new ideas and suggestions from every team member.
We considered different perspectives when approaching a problem, each of us has a voice to be heard after all.
For xDNA, holding a weekly cadence tremendously helped to keep everyone in the loop and address any new help needs as they arose.
For those in leadership roles, it can be especially tricky to bond and build rapport with members being unable to meet and converse face-to-face. But it is not an impossible task, now more than ever, clear and constant communication is key.
2. Keeping Morale High
Strive to make personal connections with your colleagues. Find out about how they are doing and what they like to do in their free time. Show genuine interest in their lives and well-being even outside of work.
Apart from the usual channels meant solely for workplace discussions, xDNA utilized individual communication channels to hold more relaxed and informal conversations.
Checking in with everyone and showing sincere concern can make all the difference to strengthen both your work and social relationships.
Whenever significant milestones or achievements are made, our upper management makes the effort to send delicious food and hold online events for its employees.
Be sure to celebrate the wins and acknowledge a job well done. When employees feel valued and cared for by their company and colleagues, especially during hard times, it helps keep them motivated and optimistic about their work.
3. Improving Day-to-Day Workflows
The first individual task was to create a designated workspace that allowed us a professional environment, to remain focused yet comfortable enough to power through an entire workday.
With priorities and schedules now shifted around to accommodate new patterns and routines, it’s important to establish a disciplined work ethic within the comforts of our own homes.
Improving daily habits to simulate the experience of coming in for a regular workday. Set a fixed schedule to wake up and do household chores/errands, prepare for work, arrive at work stations to clock in, and get into the zone for the rest of the day.
Apart from good habits, utilizing tools, programs and platforms has helped improve work productivity tremendously.
Trello and Slack in particular have been extremely helpful to xDNA’s remote work setup to streamline all communication, coordination, and collaboration processes.
For xDNA’s developers, GitLabs has helped their deployment process by decreasing issues and bugs tremendously while Node.js has allowed them to automate their schedules to provide cleaner overviews and allow clearer prioritization. They have also explored creating their own software to suit their specific needs.
For Project Leads, the online tool Gantt Chart is a valuable addition to Trello for more efficient and detailed project management.
4. Knowing Your Strengths
No company is perfect, but each one will always have certain qualities that set them apart and give them access to unique growth opportunities.
One of xDNA’s top advantages is having employees in both the Philippines and the UK. This means having an almost round-the-clock response time to clients whenever concerns and issues arose.
Apart from having an international setup, the very make-up of your team is ultimately what will determine the success of your company.
xDNA has been fortunate enough to build a team of talented individuals whom each possessed a fantastic attitude towards their work.
Despite the vast difference in work responsibilities and hours, each employee knew exactly when to employ teamwork and when to work independently, and they always did their very best to fill in the gaps for each other when needed.
So take a step back and assess, what is YOUR strength as a company?
5. Re-Focusing Energy
As tempting as it may be to work endlessly at home, sitting at your desk typing the hours away until burnout will only do more harm than good for you and everyone around you.
Now, more than ever, it’s important for each of us to achieve a healthy work-life balance and ensure we live and experience our lives to the fullest despite today’s limitations.
With no more hours and energy spent commuting to and from the office, there is more time within your control to be spent reflecting, learning, and discovering something new.
Find ways to hone existing skills and expand your overall skill set. Learning and discovery do not stop simply because we are locked in, there are countless opportunities to grow even stuck indoors. Gain perspective and insight from reading books, trying out new hobbies, and more time spent with family.
And most importantly, prioritize your health and deepen your relationships. Live mindfully with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and better sleep habits. Take good care of yourself and become a positive presence to those around you.
6. Looking Forward To The Future
Learn to keep an open and flexible mind, all whilst remaining fully aware of your environment and surroundings.
xDNA and its customers are no stranger to the difficulties brought upon by the pandemic. However, it’s important not to see these setbacks as dead-ends, but instead, as challenges to develop solutions and provide services for. There are opportunities everywhere, and we must all find ways to innovate and move forward.
Our valued client, Nelson’s Distillery and School generated over 70% of its revenue from hospitality and tourism, both of which immediately took the biggest hits last March 2020. As daunting as this news was initially, we quickly took it upon ourselves to come up with ideas for the business to maintain its momentum despite the temporary closure of its gin schools.
But keep in mind, nobody has all the answers, so do not be afraid to ask for help, or rather in the case of xDNA – do not be afraid to reach out and ask to join forces.
Having merged with Big Reach Marketing and Fluid Studios in November 2020, our three agencies have not only widened but now share all of our skill sets. We are now fully-equipped and ready to take on more and more projects together.
Beyond the goal of expanding your service capability, these decisions must first and foremost consider factors at a foundational level. Ensure that you and your potential partner are a great match especially when it comes to values, morals, and goals.
We were incredibly fortunate that the three of us were aligned in all these aspects and can now provide a full-service group-agency approach to all our clients.
We hope that our story has helped provide insight and valuable advice to help you and your company to keep going and keep growing. As discouraging as roadblocks can be, we must learn to see them as means to re-invent and re-shape ourselves to become the best we can be.
Sometimes hindrances are exactly what you need to pause, re-evaluate your position, and make the changes that will ultimately propel you in the direction you need to go. Be brave, complete the journey, and reach where you are needed the most.
Search for the purpose of your struggle and seek to fulfill it. There is much to conquer and overcome in this unpredictable world, so do not lose hope.
Whatever your current company setup and situation may be, always value your employees and their input. Make the effort to connect with everyone and encourage ideas – consider countless more possibilities and work towards them together.
With solid teamwork, a flexible mindset, and careful planning, the future is yours for the taking!