Using the strict lockdown for the bold openup

Martin Friedel

Ok, I made that second term up. For most of us the first term is not new, the effects are present everywhere. It brings a bunch of changes some of which are negative, some turn out to be not so bad. But obviously one thing that suffers is the personal communication between people. Video calls are better than just voice and much better than nothing, but not quite the same as the full experience of meeting in person.

But as with any new situation, if an external impulse comes and shakes things up, it may take a while for everything to settle down in our heads and changes may pop up in unexpected places.

Distributed roots

We started back in 2012 directly as a distributed company, with people working from different locations. That took a while to get really good at, but we managed it pretty well and when Covid-19 struck, not much changed for us really. The last few remnants of our Hamburg team that actually went to an office most of the time simply stayed home and the office started collected cobwebs.

For a few months we felt super smug about ourselves for having been early adopters of the distributed home office workstyle, with people on the team from Europe, Africa and Asia working together. We were there first, before it became mandatory! But as everyone else got used to it too, something else happened.

Newsflash: Online meetings are not fake

The idea in so many peoples heads, that one needs to meet in person, otherwise it doesn't count somehow was eroded away by weeks and months of the experience that it can be made to work. Sure - it's not perfect, but if you go with it, it works better than most of us thought. And with this acceptance in the heads of so many people, something big changed for us as a company. Suddenly two large new doors opened up to us:

1. Our mindset of working for local customers died

Most customers realised this too, working with other companies through online works. So suddenly we are a global company, working for customers from overseas or from parts of Germany we would previously not have considered. And for our industry I must say the negative impact is minimal. Before all this, we were adressing customers locally - now suddenly borders fell away. Now only our competence and our personality count and customers suddenly do not care anymore where we come from.

2. Our hiring process changed

We were pretty open to hiring people of different backgrounds and from different cultural backgrounds already, but now we were forced to hire new empoyees who we had never met in person before. At first this did feel weird, but now we have done it for a while and it got easier. There are people in our company who have not met any other teammates in person, but have nonetheless become integrated, appreciated and productive team members. This is now an irreversible change in our mindset and makes us wonder how far we can go. So far it seems the main challenge is timezones.

The bold openup

So if all of this is the new normal, I decided to counter only staying at home with my family for months with... an openup.

Now I embrace a new paradigm, where I use tools like to make new global connections regularly and randomly. So in the last few weeks I have been at home pretty much all the time, and yet at the same time in meetings in the UK, Norway, Costa Rica, the US, Belarus, Nigeria, India or various German cities. If I have to meet everyone by video - why talk only with people I already know and who live close by?

My conversations with people from all these places in these previous months have given me new connections to wonderful, interesting and often likeminded people, which I hope will last a long time.

So try it!

Make the world a more connected placeand go to (If you need an invite, ping me)

Reach out way beyond what you already know and make new connections.

Let us make the corona lockdown era also be the bold openup era, where amazing new international friendships are made.