People all over the world have been working remotely for several weeks now. And so have we. How are things at Alphabet International? What does the momentary work life look like? Which new routines have we settled into? How has the contact with customers changed? In our new series “Alphabet Remote Logbook” we will take you behind the scenes and give answers and insights from our remote work spaces.
The first Alphabet employee who gives you and us an insight into her very personal office is Marcella Catanzaro. Marcella works as an International Lease Consultant within the New Business area of our International Sales Team. She is responsible for the sales region west, including France, Belgium, Luxembourgh, Italy and Spain. As three countries of them have been especially affected by the COVID-19 crisis, our first question is of course: How has the pandemic influenced the daily work?
Surprisingly, not as much as one could think. Of course, most digital meetings and calls start off on the topic of COVID-19. It concerns everybody, naturally. However, strictly work-related we haven’t felt that much of a change. We monitor the situation and possible shifts very closely. To be ahead of the local situation, we are updated every other day by our colleagues from the markets about the local development with regards to reachability, workloads, availability of services, garages, partners, etc. In France, for example, with the strict curfew we’ve been facing some challenges even earlier than in other countries; car dealers and repair shops being closed, vehicle registrations not possible anymore. Also for processes which are in a normal office environment very easy to achieve, like collecting contract signatures, we had to find alternative solutions which were fortunately implemented very successfully.
Has the workflow changed at all?
We benefit from the fact that we’ve already had a work culture supporting remote work and the necessary technical equipment beforehand. The transition ran therefore relatively smoothly and we didn’t have to change much. The first weeks took some adjusting of course. I think that applies to everybody everywhere. It’s after all a unique situation.
What would you say are the most challenging parts of the new work routine?
We have even more calls than we had before. Customer feedbacks towards tender submissions, internal strategic alignments, in general all meetings which had been taken place personally before are now online meetings or calls. Even the quick “desk conversations” for quick questions with the colleagues. Surely, we need and want to stay in touch with our clients as well as our colleagues, however, you quickly find new and better ways to channel this. It has taught me to be even more mindful of my calendars than before, making sure everyone of the team sees a real time availability of myself.
Taking into account the much higher flexibility while remote working, this highly effects my daily work very positive and makes me much more efficient rather than rushing from one meeting room to the other. On the other hand, as the time runs by, you realise how much you miss your team; knowledge exchange, chatting, working together and just seeing each other. We implemented office chats on a bi-daily basis, where the whole International Sales Team gets together and we can exchange in our “virtual office space” which is very nice.
Another tricky thing that everybody can probably relate to right now, can be the internet connection. Only from the Munich location ten thousands of colleagues are working remotely. Of course, the connection at home is sometimes not as fast as in the office. It makes you think twice what you send and how big the file is. It’s very manageable though, thanks to our dedicated IT department. We are as easily to reach for our customers as in the office.
Has the communication itself changed as well?
From what I hear and see communication between the colleagues and with the clients is very positive, supportive and even personal as the first question always concerns each other’s wellbeing. The situation is new to us all and there is a great team spirit of “we’ll get through this together”. We have also received some very good feedback from the clients already, commending our transparency and pretty much seamless continuance of our service. That is very rewarding. And if there’s ever a situational delay, everybody is very understanding. I think we all look forward to the future and plan ahead. I sure am.
Thank you, Marcella, for taking the time and inviting us into your home office!