A: In a world affected by COVID-19, we’ve all changed our behaviour. What effect did it have on Digip? What lessons can business leaders glean from this crisis?
V: If we have learned anything in the last two years is that there are different ways of working, different ways of living and different ways to take appreciation for things. Despite the fact that some of the operations at Digip are remote in nature, we thought, ‘How do we continue to provide excellent service while maintaining our employees’ trust?’
And I think that is the most important thing for any business. An open and honest conversation across the organisation, allowing truth to speak to power about the leadership response to the challenge. Think of it as a new strategic initiative facing huge execution challenges. These require senior management to get the best information they can about barriers to execution, and it requires trust and commitment. That comes about when everyone in the organisation knows that senior management wants to hear from lower levels about barriers to execution that might include their own leadership.
I think it presents businesses with a huge opportunity to develop a trust based culture.
Remote work is also the new normal. Working remotely has numerous advantages. When you work from home, you no longer have to commute. For some people, this can amount to a couple extra hours per day to spend on more interesting or productive activities. You save money on gas and help the environment. There is less pressure to dress up. Work-life balance can be improved. This is an opportunity to scrap the idea that big cities are the only places where meaningful work can happen because we know firsthand that isn’t true.
Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Many business leaders still believe that “going remote” means sending a worker away from the office with a laptop and a to-do list. I wish it was that simple. In fact, when the proper policies and procedures to support off-site employees are not in place, terrible consequences are likely. As businesses embrace remote work, thoughtful leaders must devise solutions to foster collaboration, reduce digital miscommunication, and simulate a workplace structure for employees. Isolation and mental anxiety must be actively addressed by encouraging employees to develop a personal regimen: exercise at home, meditate, and make an effort to reach out and talk to people, even if that socialisation takes place virtually, just to ensure that employees are happy, mentally relaxed, and productive to the greatest extent possible.
A: These days the world seems constantly on the verge of a meltdown. First was the pandemic, then were the harsh realities of climate change. Following that, there was a war and a cost-of-living crisis. What can we do?
V: To begin, I believe we would benefit greatly from taking a break and knowing a little less about what is going on every second outside our door. The internet and social media have been extremely effective in raising awareness and democratising the dissemination of information. But if we keep doomscrolling, reading social media or the news incessantly, jumping from one traumatic story to the next without giving ourselves time and space to care for our mental health, we will be in big trouble.
It’s critical to take a step back and consider what it means to “stay informed.” Is it that I’m looking for specific information about a news topic or that I’m trying to figure out what several people are angry about online and ruminating on those emotions? Is there a reliable news source or two I can turn to for updates instead of scrolling through social media?
Finally, if there is one thing we do, it is to practice kindness and compassion, which I believe is undervalued in this world. The ability to empathically connect with others—to feel with them, care about their well-being, and act compassionately—is critical to our lives, assisting us in getting along, working more effectively, and thriving as a society. In motivating people, empathy is critical. We need to understand the fears, hopes and concerns of the people around us.
Compassion can be hard to find these days. Many fail to understand how essential kindness is to our survival and happiness as human beings. For some, compassion isn’t valuable at all. It might even be scorned. It’s seen as a weakness and opportunity to be taken advantage of. In the words of the great Dalai Lama, “Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.” Compassion improves individuals’ health and lives, fuels positive change in societies, and supports the most vulnerable.
A: Viktor, thank you very much.
**Viktor Johansson is the Chief Executive Officer of Digip, a digital platform that specialises in trademark registration and protection, a lawyer & certified EUIPO trademark attorney