“Media Stress” is what we feel when the quantity and/or negativity of news has increased. COVID-19 and its far-reaching effects have garnered more media coverage than anyone can reliably recall. It is intensified because of its worldwide presence, as well as its direct effect not only on our health but on the economy and on politics, resulting in further outcomes and issues. Perhaps one such issue is the nature of lockdown and quarantine, definitely stress-producing and spreading uncertainty. Companies, small and big alike, are going out of their way to adjust to the new “normal” in their management of this unexpected, unanticipated and unruly situation, and they are sharing their practices and difficult decisions. Crisis and Quarantine Theo Schnitfink, Founder and CEO of Symphony Solutions, said in one of his early, highly popular weekly Town Hall broadcasts, “During times of difficulty and crisis, our bonds are strengthened – bonds with each other, with our clients, and within our communities. As a result, we come away with tighter relationships.” That is what is happening at Symphony Solutions. People and clients responded positively to the new model of work that we were able to quickly introduce due to the flexible nature of Symphony Solutions and our ability to motivate and remain Agile in the face of circumstances. And throughout all the scrambling, the company signed two contracts with new clients and increased regionality with an existing client. Taking Action Symphony Solutions faced the newly surfaced problems head-on and jumped right into action, shifting its focus that’s been knocked out of balance with the unexpected change brought upon by COVID-19. To make sure that all Symphonians are regularly updated on the current situation in the company, we’ve started conducting weekly town halls for all office locations using MS Teams. The Leadership Team informs all Symphonians on the current state of the matter regarding the COVID-19 lockdown, updates in company policies as well as the business side of things. All Symphonians are encouraged to send their questions and concerns to the town hall email, which are promptly being addressed. We have engaged all of our means of internal communication to ensure that every Symphonian is well-informed and knows what to expect. Safety in the office Symphony Solutions management went above and beyond in ensuring that Symphonians are safe and not exposed to the risk of getting infected. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been decided to make a shift to work from home mode for all of the offices, strictly limiting the number of people allowed in the office, giving priority to those in essential roles. However, even in lockdown, there were people who preferred to work in the office. The Facility team of Symphony Solutions took on the responsible mission to make the office a safe and comfortable place for them. Coming to the office is completely voluntary and Symphonians are strongly recommended to work from home. This especially applies to those who have small children, elderly parents, or are in a group of risk themselves. A list of protective measures and recommendations has been developed. A limit has been set on the number of people allowed in the meeting rooms. Social distancing is strongly encouraged. Stickers and informative material have been designed to remind people of the safety measures. Symphonians who come to the office are provided with protective masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers. The offices are regularly cleaned and disinfected. Supporting Symphonians working from home While the offices are taken care of, the majority of Symphonians have quickly adjusted to working from the safety of their homes. The shift to WFH happened in a matter of one day and proved to be very efficient. This has probably to do with Symphony Solutions being an international and multicultural company. Symphony Solutions has always had people from different countries working on the same teams. In terms of software and equipment, everything has long been covered. The sudden shift in scale stirred uncertainties in those first days of lockdown. Adapting to the new way of life may have seemed challenging at first, but in practice showed good potential and positive results. In fact, the clients have been so impressed with the way Symphony Solutions handled the situation, that they adapted many of our practices in organizing remote work and coordinating teams. Symphony Academy Major changes had to be implemented in the way Symphony handled its numerous internal and external events. Symphony Academy was quick to adjust and moved to virtual education conducting its trainings online from the very first week of quarantine. In just two months, there were 45 events for Symphonians – tech hubs, soft skills trainings and upskillings. With all the trainings being conducted online, more people than ever were able to join, and so, even at this time, we continued to learn and grow professionally. In the time of quarantine, Symphony English teachers launched the English for Specific Purposes course for all Symphonians eager to improve their professional language skills. And more tech-oriented Symphonians were able to accomplish a 16-class React Course. SHE. events SHE. community took on a proactive role in supporting the community in this uneasy time, focusing on educating people on the current situation. We invited healthcare professionals to speak on the topics of keeping your physical and mental health in check, as well as leveling up your at home well-being practices. A series of webinars were dedicated to managing stress levels when working from home, and even a quarantine “boot camp” for parents with small children. Lifting the spirits of Symphonians in lockdown One of the challenges in this quarantine is certainly that people were now devoid of the social aspects of working in the office. As a reminder, that we’re all in this together and that we’ve got one another’s back, the marketing team started a flashmob on social media, asking Symphonians to post pictures of themselves working from home with the hashtag #SymphonyWFH. Symphonians from all locations enthusiastically participated and sent pictures from Lviv, Rzeszow, Krakow, Skopje, Belgium and the Netherlands. Many posted pictures with their children and even pets, which was a flashmob in and of itself. A lot of work has been done in improving communication since the start of lockdown. Understanding how detrimental isolation may be for mental health, we are encouraging Symphonians to be active in our channels of communication and participate in the social life of the company even if it has to be shifted to online for now. We share because we care Even in these dire times, Symphony Solutions never forgot about our charitable initiatives. Some pioneered by Symphonians themselves, others taken upon in our good will to give back to the community. We are always ready to respond to requests from NGOs and participate in community projects and initiatives that correlate with our core values. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve taken an active position in the fight against the virus. Symphony Solutions in Lviv joined the emergency project United for Health by Lviv IT Cluster aimed at purchasing testing kits and working closely with the Coronavirus emergency operation center in Lviv. We’ve collected donations to purchase PPE and other essentials for local hospitals and ambulance substations. We’ve also responded to a request of a local NGO to help children from low-income families. We’ve donated computer equipment for the children to use to continue their studies online while the schools and learning facilities are closed for quarantine. Not to forget about charity causes on a smaller scale, we are collecting donations to help out local animal shelters. On top of that, Symphonians at the Lviv office stepped up and rescued two stray kittens nearby the office building. The kittens have had a vet check up and are taken care of while waiting for a forever home. In a time like this, our hearts go out to all those who are in need. A single drop makes an ocean. Being a part of this community, we take responsibility wherever it’s in our means to help. The Light Ahead Symphony Solutions will continue its corporate social responsibilities, especially meaningful now, and will service clients in new and inventive ways. We will continue to reach and engage employees openly and frequently, but the predominant message throughout all of this is the coming together of people in heart, mind, and spirit. Just as Theo Schnitfink said, the bonds are stronger and so are we.