March 2020 – The first Covid-19 cases occur in Mexico. In April of that year, home office becomes mandatory for all non-systemic professions. This means that WMP Mexico Advisors will also be forced to send its employees to home office. To date, WMP has been working remotely for the most part.
In this interview, partner Simone Koch talks about the biggest challenges and how WMP managed to master tasks as a team.
What was the biggest challenge when home office was first introduced?
Especially in the accounting area, introduction of home office was a big challenge. It was necessary to make sure everyone had access to all the files and server. Speaking of accounting, before the pandemic it was a particularly common practice to pick up printed documents at the customer’s facilities and work on them. As for the Key Account Management area, we got up to speed very quickly and were able to switch to video conferencing, etc. in a blink of an eye! This turned out to work very well with customers as they were forced to work from home too!
What was your experience with home office before the pandemic?
Before the pandemic, we had relatively little experience with home office. Actually, it was regarded as a luxury. Only a few people here and there was allowed home office for a day, but near as much as now. So, when we all were forced to do home office as of April 1, it was a big change for all of us, it was a new challenge.
Which methods were introduced to maintain communication and workflow despite home office?
We rely on various applications which we are now using. Here, you can spot who is currently working on the different projects. Due to the fact that we cannot just call across the table, we have created different chat groups in different systems. Every morning we discuss what is on the agenda for the day and then everybody gets to work. Also, we use various time recording systems and hold video conferences with customers. This is working very well now. With regard to social interaction, things have become complicated because before the pandemic we used to get together once a month in an “afterwork” session, unfortunately home office has swept that away! At first, we bid to carry out small events via Zoom, but we found out that not everybody is fancy to sit in front of the computer for longs hours in the evening. Employee relationships and social interaction are definitely missing in home office.
Looking back – What would be your conclusion after a year of home office? What were the biggest learnings?
Looking back, it went really well for us. We were able to maintain our business ongoing and also the year-end went very well. I am really proud of our team because we had to do exactly the same as before the pandemic. At the same time, we had a few special projects, such as our SAP Business One implementation – but in the end, we also managed that from our home office perspective. That is why things are going better than we thought. A common perception is to think that people work less when in home office, however, in our case it is quite the opposite. One reason for this is that not everyone relies on the best internet connection at home and some things take longer to get done and then people work longer hours in the evenings. Likewise, if people join in and everyone does their part, it goes quite well. We are happy with the way it goes.
How is WMP Mexico Advisors currently working?
Currently we are on a rotating schedule – Half of the time we go to the office and half of the time we do home office. This is genuinely nice because you finally get to see each other again. The social aspect is also part of it: talking to colleagues, exchanging ideas. This is especially important for motivation. However, I think it will also be possible for us to run a setup like this in the future. This pandemic year as well as the home office year has certainly changed the way we will work in the future, but I think it is going to be good for everyone to get back to the office again, at least half time. This will be highly motivating!