On 21st May, 2020, Cyprus began phase 2 of the gradual release of lock-down measures - the phase where citizens no longer have to send a text message to get government permission to leave their homes, in light of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Cyprus has been in lock-down mode since 13th March, starting with the closure of schools. Cedar Rose closed our offices on the same day, and our Cyprus staff have been working from home now for 70 days. We have continued to provide the same level of service, have managed to launch a new website and navigated the difficulties of providing information during the Ramadan (Islamic month of fasting) period, as our main area of expertise has traditionally been the Middle East and North Africa. We've also managed to increase our offering of company information via our website from 12.5 million to over 100 million companies - now offering a truly global service for credit reporting and due diligence. To our clients, it has been "business as usual" - the service remained constant and even improved.
So what have we learned as a company during this time?
Companies Need to Keep Cash Reserves for Contingency
Firstly, we learned of the importance of having liquidity in the company. Luckily, our turnover has not been greatly affected because in a crisis our customers generally turn to us for information they can trust, but knowing that we could keep afloat through this period of uncertainty because we had sufficient cash reserves has made the whole experience much less stressful than it could have been. Cash-flow planning is so important, and one should always be prepared for a worst case scenario when making financial predictions.
To Know Your Customer is Key to Success in a Crisis
Secondly, we reaffirmed how important it is to know your customer. Not just by purchasing credit reports or due diligence on them - though this of course is extremely useful - but by actually knowing the people you trade with on a personal level. Our account managers have been busy throughout this period making extra efforts to pick up the phone, or get on Skype and speak to our clients and suppliers. We've asked them how they are, how much their business has been affected and whether they are expecting their payments to us or their orders to slow down. We've given them the opportunity to let us know this in advance, so that we can be prepared. Most of our clients seem to have really appreciated us taking the time to contact them and this has had a very positive affect on our customer relationships.
Most Employees Can Be Trusted to Work Unsupervised
Thirdly, we learned that we have a trustworthy team of employees. Even though we have not been working next to them, it has become very clear to the management which employees don't need constant supervision and which ones fall short in the self-motivation stakes. Remote working has highlighted the clear leaders, the hard workers and the smart workers. It also gave many of our employees extra time which they would have spent commuting or sitting in traffic and the superstars among them have used that time wisely to take courses online, to improve their skills and to start hobbies or to up their exercise game (to compete with their CEO, no doubt!)
Business People Are Actually Humans
Finally, I think this period of globally working from home has made us all a little more outwardly relaxed. Men have let their beards grow and stopped wearing suits, shirts and ties. Women's roots have been bared to all and they've had no need for heels or jewelry. No matter what someone's job title is, their kids have been screaming in the background of Skype chats, their dogs have been barking on Zoom. We've seen little glimpses of each other's homes and personal lives in the background and it's taken down some of the barriers that perhaps were existing before. In essence, we have all become more human and that has helped us to relate to each other on a more familiar level. Personally, I have found that really refreshing and I hope that it is something that will continue when we all return to our offices or business premises. Except the beards, maybe.
Cedar Rose provides credit reports, due diligence investigations, data and identity verification solutions. We have been working from home throughout lockdown with no interruption to our services and we will return to our Limassol offices on 1st June, 2020. You can find out more about us at www.cedar-rose.com.