Feeling close in times of pandemic

As we launch the first issue of our newsletter, it seemed the occasion was right to assess the way we managed to live and work through this Covid-19 emergency. The unprecedented situation we have gone through, and which we are still partially experiencing, has prompted us to find a new approach that would allow us to keep up production and support our customers remotely, without giving in to panic.

Physical distancing did not prevent us from feeling close to our community: customers, suppliers, partners, as well as the people with whom we work locally. Our initial concern was for them, at the start of the pandemic, which prompted us to establish a psychological and concrete closeness through economic support actions to the four hospitals (Ospedale Borgomanero – Novara, Clinica San Marco di Zingonia – Bergamo, Ospedale “Luigi Sacco” – Milano, Spedali Civili – Brescia) closer to our offices and with donations of masks and oximeters to the Municipal Operational Center in Arona, where our main offices are based and most of us work.

Regarding the reorganization of the work in Pipex Italia, first of all, we managed not to request the redundancy fund payments in derogation and leave our quota to those who really needed it more than us.

So all Pipex Italia employees remained totally active, each in their own roles, working initially from home, then minimizing the presence in the office to ensure social distancing. For a company like Pipex Italia, which has always been very oriented and prone to interpersonal ties, drastically reducing real meetings with customers was not a small change. Smart working, however, was not the result of improvisation: for many years we have equipped our employees with the necessary IT tools at home. Having gained considerable remote experience for some time has meant that the difficulties and stress created by the pandemic do not have to be added to that generated by the use of “inadequate” or new tools to do the job.

While we would still prefer to go out and meet our customers in person around the world (and we hope to start over as soon as possible), the emergency has shown us that in the new circumstances, a well-managed video conference meeting can be extremely effective. As a matter of fact, we’ve been holding shorter meetings but with greater frequency, and managed to examine in greater depth specific topics or products thanks to the involvement of our experts.

From a research carried out by Milan’s “APS studio” (psycho-sociological analysis study) on a sample of 193 people, it emerged that “Almost all the subjects who used these tools commented on them in positive terms […] the meetings seem to work much better: in defined times, with punctuality, few absences, a much more effective and smooth management of verbal exchanges […] the use of these tools […] has made it possible to work very well with colleagues and customers, without leaving your office.” (Source)

And, totally unexpectedly, we sometimes felt closer while practising physical distance:
The jolt given to work processes in organizations has often also involved relationships with customers, […] you meet and talk from your own homes, no one moves into the other’s study or office, you help each other in making new tools work, we give each other a hand in the face of lockdown-related difficulties, interest and concern are often expressed for the well-being of the others.” (Source)

A number of months after the end of the lockdown, we’re now back in the offices but we are still using those tools. We meet each other weekly and with our customers on video: it has become a healthy habit that we would like to keep, integrating it as soon as possible with real meetings whose charm will never fade, at least for us at Pipex Italia.

Francesca Manfredini
Francesca Manfredini

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