This week: Julian Jagtenberg, founder at Somnox, still has his informal one on one coffees with his employees – through zoom.
How do you stay calm – as a person and as a CEO?
“Well, it was quite a scare in the beginning of course. A pandemic is something we’ve never had to deal with before – not in our lifetime at least. My first response was: is this really happening?
However, I think being adaptable is key if you’re an entrepreneur: the ability to deal with uncertainty. The moment we heard about the lockdown, we made a panic room and did what is known as a ‘pre-mortem’ brainstorm. In the hypothetical situation our company would go bankrupt in the next six months, what would be the reasons?
It wasn’t the most uplifting brainstorm we ever had – far from it – but it gave important insights that us helped keeping a clear view. We’re going to make it, that’s for sure. We’re lucky that our core business – sleep – is maybe more important than ever in these challenging times.”
How do you navigate between operating in the short term and the long term?
“At first we had to make sure all our employees were able to work remote. That was surprisingly easy. We were working completely digital in no time. We sent office supplies such as 3D printers, keyboards and computer displays to everyone who needed them. One of our core values is ‘evolve immediately’. I was happy to see that we’re very good at that.
As for the long term, we decided to stick to the milestones as they were. There’s no reason to change our strategy. We’re optimistic.”
How do you keep your team motivated?
“By over-communicating. Every Monday, we have a zoom meeting with the entire team for a weekly work show case. We have our daily huddles, we sent out video messages on where we stand regarding our KPIs, we’re keeping everyone as informed as possibly as we can. And I still value my informal one on one coffees with my employees, to check in with them and ask how they’re doing.
If you go full digital as a business, there’s a risk it soon becomes all work and no play. That’s why we have digital office drinks on Friday, lunches, work outs and pub quizzes.
In terms of productivity, we acknowledge that it’s challenging to work remote and home school your kids at the same time. But the funny thing is, I noticed that some of my employees are more creative and productive than ever.”