How to keep a team productive during a force majeure

Mar 23, 2022
By Alex
Team

Weeks after the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, we at Five Jars are ready to share how we continue to cope with all the challenges of wartime daily.

Our company has an office in Kyiv, and some of the team is distributed in several cities in Ukraine, so everything that happens deeply hurts each of us. But while sharing this pain, we believe that the best way now is to keep working so that we can pay taxes in Ukraine, support business and give each other confidence in the future.

After getting over the first shock and making sure that all our team members are safe, we decided to systematize our experience of overcoming difficulties in emergency situations. This article is the result of the reflection and hard work of every wonderful person that makes up our Five Jars family:  

  • What measures have we taken to support moving team members?
  • How has flexible management, quick design decisions, and mutual empathy helped keep progress on our projects?
  • What psychological practices do we use for the stable mental health of the team?
  • Why didn't we stop hiring new employees?
  • What was the reaction of our customers and our ways of building relationships with them?

Even in the most difficult moments of the past months, we managed to keep the delivery process - and we are ready to share how our team did it.

Flexible project management is the basis of stability

Social connections are the most important resource that protects us from chaos. This means that from the first day of the war, our managers are in touch with every team member and every client. Five Jars’ team has mastered load balancing and control workflows, taking into account the plans and situations of our developers. 

Our management team knew in advance that the company was going to have a lot of developer moves - we needed to guarantee a safe environment for all team members. Realizing that in the current situation, an emergency break in work is possible while moving to a safe place, our leaders agreed to introduce special types of working hours - emergency time off. The team did not have to worry about stopping the project during emergency days off: the developers and service stations decided to maintain the most detailed technical documentation so that any new connected developer could dive into the details of the project in a matter of hours. This would have been a waste of work hours in peacetime, but now it has saved hundreds of hours in the investigation phase. 

1-Adrew.jpg

Our heroic front-end developer Andrey is engaged in volunteer activities on the territory of Ukraine. 

Flexible management is actively used in cases where a quick employee replacement is not possible. For example, when Andrey, our front-end developer and Christian church volunteer, was busy delivering humanitarian cargo, the managers on the projects where he was involved rebuilt the milestones from front-end tasks to back-end development. The flexibility of the processes has helped the Five Jars to minimize the loss of progress on projects.

Relocation of team members to safe areas

2-Relocation of team members to safe areas

Most of our Ukrainian colleagues have evacuated to safer cities today so that the productivity of our projects has not been affected. We actively help team members with relocation to safe places and other countries, covering the necessary expenses. Five Jars optimized expenses to support both colleagues who moved and who decided to stay in Ukraine as volunteers, painlessly for business. The history of Five Jars' Volunteer Heroes deserves special attention and will be described in more detail in future publications. For our part, we are making every effort to reduce the trauma for those who were forced to leave their homes. Our priority is safety, readiness for emergencies, and Five Jars' services continuity.

Psychological practices

3-Psychological practices

Working all these years in the remote mode from 5 different countries, our company has well-tuned remote ways of interaction and communication with the team, which have proven themselves in wartime as well. We practice short 15-minute Watercooler talks - where every day we can briefly talk on non-work topics, share news and support each other. Every Friday we hold Happy Hour, where we communicate with each other, play online games or organize acquaintances with new team members. We also follow technological innovations and not only when one of us has the opportunity to share an interesting researched topic - we hold an Open Microphone. All these psychological techniques allow us to feel that we have each other in the stormy sea of life, and together we will overcome any difficulties.

On an ongoing basis, our company has One on One calls that help monitor the level of team members' satisfaction with the company, carry out psycho-emotional unloading and make the necessary improvements in the company's work processes. 

After all, one of the unspoken principles of the work of our company is the opportunity for everyone to feel like a hero of change here. 

Strengthening the team with new members

Challenging times are always an opportunity for growth, so we build on our stability and keep adding amazing professionals to our team. Over the past month, we've welcomed a new Drupal developer thanks to our caring HR team. This allowed us to more optimally distribute the load on active team members. After all, hiring employees is part of the normal quiet life, which should not be forgotten. Five Jars are open to new potential colleagues at any time!

Development transparency guarantees strong partnerships

The last month has proven that the Five Jars' principles of interaction with customers successfully pass the test of difficulties. This means we are on the right track! Our team is very touched by the care we receive from our customers from the first days until now. We are proud of the partnerships we have built with each of our clients. In the face of force majeure, our principles of transparency have allowed both our teams and clients to soberly assess the risks and prospects. We at Five Jars promise to continue our conviction and provide the best transparent development outsourcing service. 

I am sure today was a very long one for you and everyone at Five Jars. Hope you're hanging in there. I was thinking of you last night too while reading the news, as I imagine it's a challenging time for you to trying to keep customers updated and checking in with colleagues. Hope everyone in every country for FJ is doing okay tonight.

 

Paige, Five Jars’ client

March 28, 2022

In the end, our team would like to say: that no matter what happens, we will continue to do important and necessary things for both customers and team members. We wish and hope for peace for everyone who is now going through the hardships of hostilities.

 

Alex
Our CEO with 13 years of experience in delivering digital solutions to global institutions such as Stanford University, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He has a keen eye for strategy and can address challenges from both the business and tech sides.

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