Beginning of last year, we started updating our handbook in light of upgrading our regulatory license. Now, more than a year later, we must note that the section ‘pandemic risk’ is right to exist.
Riding the bike through empty streets to the office to be the last man standing worked out for a bit, until we sized up to a team of four for the next weeks to come. Our staff managed a swift move into home office – day-to-day operations remained surprisingly smooth.
Early on we implemented bi-weekly update calls regarding the pandemic situation, to ensure our actions in regard of COVID-19 are transparent to the team and to offer a platform to share concerns and address day-to-day issues.
At this time, end of April 2020 in full lockdown, we already decided to shift our annual barbecue event into a virtual one and proceed immediately. It was fantastic to receive lots of positive comments from our stakeholders on pursuing such an event online. An online event of such a size was uncharted territory that time.
Those who can host events do not struggle to survive.
First Priority: Ensuring a safe place to work
While infection rates dropped and public life slowly picked up again, we decided to stay more cautious and conservative than public regulations demanded. Home office always remained an option to every employee until today, as risk perception and personal needs differ.
In light of declining infection rates and a better understanding of how COVID spreads, we have been moderately able to bring people back to the office in summer and fall last year.
Fortunately our office offers a large rooftop terrace, providing an ideal surrounding for COVID-compliant meetings.
Second Priority: Never Waste a Crisis
During this time we focussed on strengthening our internal processes. Although transitioning into decentralised work went quite well, we sharpened internal workflows and responsibilities, creating an improved base for coming growth and development.
Chartered Investment’s majority owner is a Private Equity company called Chartered Group, rooted in Asia. The holding has a tradition of inviting their international entities to a spectacular end-of-year event, consisting of a full week of business meetings, dinners and get-togethers. Each year a handful of us get the opportunity to join the event hosted in Japan. Not necessary to mention what a great experience this has been over the last years and how miserable we felt for end of 2020.
But instead of dropping this event we decided to bring it virtual, again. We used this opportunity to share insights about the companies of the group as always, but more importantly, bonded over a virtual cooking event, uniting multiple countries in their kitchens.
A great event and experience for everybody!
Third Priority: Be prepared
Since the beginning of this year we have started focusing on an exit strategy. Even though day-to-day business works well, we lose on creativity. Like the Google CEO Sundar Pichai puts it, “Coming together in person to collaborate and build community is core …” In our words: Not today’s business is at risk, but tomorrow’s. Creativity and innovation strive on personal interaction.
Nearing the end of the second wave we thought about how to staff up the office without risking having to revise the strategy, should numbers rise again.
Given the shape of our office we discussed different options:
1. Separate the office into more rooms, each one for 1-2 employees
2. Separate shifts
3. Test strategy
We concluded that smaller offices only increase the risk that a colleague becomes infected. Separate shifts would again restrict interaction between colleagues, limiting the creative dialogue needed for our business.
As a result of these considerations, we opted for daily testing of everyone coming into the office. Market research quickly led us to Siemens Healthineers Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Tests, offering excellent detection rates. We ordered stock as soon as it became available for non-medical users in Germany, well before German Authorities were mandated, mitigating the risk of an infectious person entering the office. In addition to air circulation, hygienic rules and keeping distance by allowing a maximum of 50% of workplaces to be occupied, we believe that this solution is sustainable.
Our current stock ensures testing capacity for the weeks to come.
...but most important
We got feedback that it feels good working here. Thanks to the entire team for your effort and dedication - together we will succeed through this pandemic and long after!
We’d also like to thank our business partners and clients for the steady workflow and good communication.
Keeping our fingers crossed for the weeks to come, stay safe!
(Daniel Maier - Managing Director - Chartered Investment)