I returned from the Philippines the day before Manilla went into lockdown – had my flight been 24 hours later, the last 100 days would have been very different.
The initial relocation of all staff to work from home was relatively painless. Everyone gathered desktops and monitors and headed off across Somerset and Dorset. Microsoft Teams was put into play, web cams and wireless headphones purchased, and we all got to see who has the most guitars hanging on their wall at home! The challenges of VPN connections, slow broadband speeds and dynamic IP addresses meant a flurry of activity for our IT experts, to be replaced by a decisive transition of any remaining local server activity onto the cloud – Hark is no longer location dependent. Our team quickly felt the benefit that working from home gives them. No longer spending an hour in the car travelling to work has got to be a good thing.
We are determined to drive forward in these changing times, rather than sail on as we did before. We’ve moved on from our former base in Crewkerne and opted for a new office space in a new town. We have moved to a blended home/office work environment. Our team can choose to spend time in the office when it suits them, to meet up for project briefings and agile development sessions or choose to deliver the same excellent results from home.
But we are more than just aWorkbook and aHub. Hark comprises both our products and our people. So how we do keep that team spirit alive when we are no longer in the same space? Starting each morning with a daily huddle on Teams, we share highlights of the day just gone and our plans for the one ahead. We have found those 15 minutes invaluable – not just for the exchange of business information, but for that daily connection with colleagues. We have quizzes, silly hat competitions and online games sessions. Everyone enjoyed a ‘Curry Night In’ with a cook at home curry box sent with our thanks and appreciation for how brilliantly everyone pulled together.
Over the last 100 days we have won new customers (welcome onboard Wrangler, Lee and Lafuma Mobilier); faced projects stalling as UK brands furloughed their workforce; expanded our remit with long-standing customers and heard, many times, just how much our aWorkbook app has helped brands to sell virtually when doors were no longer open. Our Data Services team have pulled out all the stops as customer deadlines concertina-ed as lockdown eased. Our Project Managers have juggled competing priorities with skills worthy of a circus act and our developers are storming ahead a new product offer designed to address channel right selling online. Our sales team is expanding, and we have been building new relationships in Australia, the US, Central and Southern America, as well as closer to home in Europe.
The world continues to change, and we are changing along with it. We are not waiting to see what happens and persisting with the old, but instead we have taken stock, pivoted and are ready to embrace what happens next.