Impact of the New Normal
Staff posted on June 17, 2020 |
A company from Germany shares: When you start a business, learn to prepare for what you can expect.

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The early struggles

When COVID-19 hit Germany in February/March 2020, PointCab, globally acting Germany-based software company founded by geospatial and surveying experts, was luckily financially prepared to sustain a crisis but in many unforeseeable aspects—we were not. We knew we could survive an economic crisis for some time but of course not without making sacrifices. Being a rather small company with just a few employees, we would all need to take some cuts to make sure everyone could keep their job over a longer period of time. This was something we knew, this was something that was communicated before and something we all had expected. 

But COVID-19 is not just an economic crisis. It is a new invisible and unpredictable enemy. Potentially losing a substantial part of your salary is a stressful thought on its own. Moreover this crisis comes with health risks for everybody. Especially in the beginning, nobody really knew how dangerous this virus potentially  is and how it may affect one's life and the lives of our loved one’s and everybody elses. Seeing the news from Italy where doctors and nurses have breakdowns because of the sheer amount of infected is just too much to handle, seeing the death toll rising constantly: that’s very scary. If that hadn't been enough already, essential supplies in the supermarkets were starting to run low and parents suddenly had to home school and entertain their kids all day while simultaneously trying to work.

Trying to cope

It was an utter mess. We know this sounds like one of those cliché phrases companies like to throw around without really meaning it, but we do regard our team as a small extended family. This is why one of our top priorities was to make sure everyone was able to cope  with the situation. We  had a lot group meetings in which we discussed the situation, as well as one on one conversations. As we had just hired two new employees, we also wanted to make sure we honor our commitment by keeping them in the company.  All financial decisions were talked through with the entire team. We had to cancel all planned events for the year because we couldn’t take the risks attached. We had to adjust the numbers for the year and plan accordingly. There was a lot to handle and it was all hands on deck.

 Picture of easter video call. (Image courtesy of PointCab.)
Picture of easter video call. Using our point cloud processing software, we make point cloud processing an efficient workflow  for all types of Terrestrial scanners, Mobile mapping laser scanners and Drones.
(Image courtesy of PointCab.)

During this crisis German companies and employees are receiving a lot of governmental support in comparison to other countries. When we started to recognize a significant drop in sales in March, we needed to act. We reduced working-hours for part of our team, i.e. for our support engineers, marketing and sales. Of course, with many of our potential customers having less new projects and thus less means to purchase new software as well as the  cancellation of marketing and sales events, the workload for these departments dropped. Thanks to the government assistance, we were able to reduce  working hours while maintaining a sufficient percentage of our salary for those affected. However, getting the paperwork done in a bureaucracy infected country like Germany is definitely a piece of work and it literally took every last drop of energy and part of our sanity.

Making it work

After the initial shock phase our team was slowly adapting to working from home, reduced hours and living in this crazy new lockdown-world in general. Things gradually started to smooth out and everyone adjusted to their new working routine. However, things did not go back to normal. Nothing is normal anymore and things have changed. We’re still in a tough spot, but we’re confident the industry will pick up eventually. What really changed is our team and our relationship with each other, as well as our partners and customers.

Early on, our team was looking for ways to somehow support others in this crisis. This is how we came up with a new webinar series. We decided to give everyone who was interested the possibility to use this time at home and learn. Together, with our sister company Laserscanning Europe, we set up free online training on different topics, relevant for the industry. Then we reached out to other partners and invited them to host a webinar as well.

The feedback was amazing. There were so many different experts who were happy to share their knowledge and so many people tuning in. It was a great learning experience for everyone involved and we have since established a closer and better relationship with our partners, as well as with the audience. Suddenly everyone in our team came up with more ideas and those  who could would prepare and holda webinar. We all made sure to plan together and to take into account everyone's situation at home. We made it work. Big time.

A glimpse into the future

Right now, nobody knows for sure what the future holds. Germany is slowly lifting the lock-down and some of us are returning to the office on some days, voluntarily of course. Maybe most of us will be back in the office full time in a few weeks. Maybe some of us  will keep working from home more often. Maybe there will be a second outbreak and we have to do it all over again. 

If we learned one thing in this crisis, it’s that you can’t prepare for  the unexpected. Sometimes you have to work things out as you go. What we do know for sure though is that our team can make it work and the keys to success are communication and preparation. 

Due to our close communication, our team came up with more ideas to improve our software and products. We have strengthened the ties with some of our partners and are going to explore more opportunities together. Although this crisis has taken a toll on us all, we have taken a lot of good out of it, too. We’re staying optimistic, trying to pursue new ideas and being more flexible to adapt to new circumstances. You can’t expect the unexpected but you can adapt. So this is what we’ll do in the new normal going forward.

Learn more.

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