As the summer wraps up and many of us return from enjoying some time off, we’re taking stock of the situation around us with fresh eyes. The world is anxiously awaiting a COVID-19 vaccine, but in the meantime we’ve gotten used to a new style of working at TenCate Protective Fabrics, along with the unexpected advantages it’s brought with it. With virus numbers still not down, our goal is to find a balance between taking necessary precautions and stabilising and even growing our company in the meantime. Of all the pandemic-proofing changes we’ve made in the last half year, what’s here to stay?
Thriving in the new reality
Thankfully, we had the good fortune of having already laid the groundwork to build a culture of ownership within our company over the last few years. From the machine operators to the CEO, TenCate Protective Fabrics employees have an entrepreneurial mindset which empowers us to be flexible and resilient when dealing with challenging new circumstances.
In the months since we drastically changed where and how we work, most of us have noticed a decidedly improved work-life balance. Working from home not only benefits our overall well-being, but our productivity has spiked, too.
"As we read these positive signals, we’re realising that the necessary short-term changes we’ve made over the past months are triggering welcome long-term shifts across the board."
Take interaction with our customers, for instance. It looks different, but is incredibly high-quality under the circumstances. Rather than travelling to a big trade show to launch a new product, we’re now more likely to invite a smaller group to come discover it for themselves on our turf. The trade shows have high foot traffic numbers, but they can’t trump the personalised attention we’re able to give our customers with the full TenCate Protective Fabrics experience. In addition, our in-house experts now host webinars and publish vlogs as part of the push to bring our products to market digitally. We’ve seen a great response online.
In that first early lockdown period, we communicated through email and scheduled video meetings when it was necessary. Over time, as we’ve gotten more comfortable with the remote set-up, our communication has relaxed, too. Most people now don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or jump on a quick video call instead of sending an email.
"At the end of the day, humans are social animals — and we’re no different at TenCate Protective Fabrics! We need contact and connection with our colleagues to thrive."
For those of us on the production workfloor, there are of course social distancing protocols affecting how we interact and carry out our work together. Those of us previously in the office full-time have adopted a hybrid model, mixing remote work with (carefully coordinated) office hours to allow for some serendipity and face-to-face collaboration. The key is to stay flexible, since we’re constantly tweaking to improve the experience for everyone. Whether that’s breaking up video call fatigue by eating lunch together onscreen before kicking off agenda points, or organising company-wide virtual Friday drinks for everyone working remotely.
While we currently have a strict no-flying policy in place when it comes to travel for work, it’s been heart-warming to see the effort our people are making to connect with each other. In September, for instance, colleagues from Marseilles, Warsaw, and Barcelona will be driving all the way to the Netherlands for the quarterly international sales team meeting. That commitment to each other is exactly what has powered TenCate Protective Fabrics through the sometimes difficult months behind us.
Renewing, not recovering
So far, 2020 has come with a unique set of challenges, but we’re grateful that the pandemic has shaken up our company for the better. We’re not just reacting or recovering — no, we’re intentionally renewing the way we work. It’s still difficult to know how it will play out over time, but we’ll continue to keep our finger on the pulse of our people, our customers and the market, and confidently course correct along the way. You’re welcome to come along for the ride, right here.