At least until recently, no one could have imagined that we would be witnessing the turning point of mankind. Perhaps there has never been such an intense sense of how closely each of us is connected to the life chain of the earth, and all its actions are reflected on us, like the butterfly effect. Undoubtedly, we live in an interesting era, but that’s what exactly faces us with unprecedented challenges. People always, and especially during difficult times, need to feel little victories, and this is the main reason why we wanted to share our story right now. If at least one person finds this story useful, gets inspired, and will believe that anything is possible, then we can assume that our mission is accomplished.
Let us start with the fact that the technological infrastructure in ACT is maintained very well (our VPN connection is protected by the highest international level of SSL certificate). Our entire team has several years of experience working remotely without any interruptions, and this is the greatest asset of our IT department. However, some of our production processes – focus groups and telephone surveys – were conducted from the office, and some of the surveys were conducted through face-to-face interviews with the respondent.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were still no recommendations for staying at home, and therefore we continued to operate as usual, following all the recommendations available at the time. As the situation with the pandemic worsened, the first task our team set out to do was to transform our work process completely on the remote. The team was created with amazing speed and self-organization, the responsibility of which was to move the working process to a remote mode, and this should be done not only in Georgia but also in our subsidiary companies in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. We probably could not have imagined even in the most amazing dream if such a thing could have happened in 42 hours so that the current researches were not delayed for a second.
Our team carried out the following work in 42 hours:
- Production process managers, IT and Digital teams shared specific tasks and defined their area of responsibility.
- The work of telephone research managers has been promptly redirected to face-to-face research field managers (ACT staff members are multifunctional and therefore it was easily implemented)
- Criteria for working from home have been developed (computer data, internet power, work environment, etc.).
- An online registration database was created, where was possible to register those who want to work remotely. The base was initially filled with call center operators, but face-to-face interviews were added to keep their jobs.
- For the best staff who did not meet the technical requirements, ACT helped and provided additional computers and all other necessary resources.
- A new staff training module was created separately by the field staff
- New processes were created separately, which were sent to everyone in the form of both written and video training
- Additional “online” training was conducted for the interviewers and all their questions were answered
- The IT department wrote a detailed working scheme of “Help Desk” and as a result of almost 24-hour work, computers of all operators were remotely set up and their technical training was conducted
- To control the quality of remote “call center” workers, an additional team was created, which were trained through the video training prepared especially for them.
- In parallel, analysts got adapted to face-to-face research tools and switched to the telephone research method.
- The analytical team conducted a pilot online focus group and the service was rapidly offered to our clients.
All of the above was done in a way that the ongoing research processes were not delayed for a single minute.
“During the two days, we had a lot of quick, emergency internal meetings, assignments, writing short-term tasks and identifying the people responsible for the tasks. Training, instructions and numerous telephone or “online” consultations with the IT department were conducted. Based on the existing reality, we could see that time was running out. The most important thing was to end the case and, most importantly, to safely transfer all the people involved in the project to remote work. Our responsibilities and desire to maintain the existing project staff were doubled. We were able to provide the project staff, who did not have the technical equipment at home, with the delivery on the spot, as far as it was possible, in the given situation. We quickly started supporting interviewers left without a job. They were quickly trained and integrated into the operation of the call center. The field team acted as a whole, and that wholeness gave us the greatest strength and faith. I can’t do without mentioning the role of operators and interviewers in this change. They were our supporters and important members of our one, whole team. Under the conditions of working on the current project during the day, those back at home expressed their openness at night to work with the IT department to move the “call center” at home in time.
In the end, the united and strong team responded to challenge, with the record-breaking time with dignity. At the appointed time, the remote “call center” was fully up and working. Processes were conducted effectively in the test mode and the ongoing projects were completed. As a result, you realize that when there is a desire to support each other, love of work and self-belief, you will achieve your goal. Nothing is impossible. ”- Natia Jobava, Head of the Field Department. “We have come together to prove that we can do things differently. Togetherness gave us strength, and we saw that in a short period we had to make the changes that would normally occur in at least two to three weeks. At that time, the situation in the world was changing for the worse. The government and health officials were already urging us to stay at home! Perhaps it is difficult for the human brain to cope with so much negativity and stress without affecting its functioning and thinking. We were so involved in our search for the ways to solve new problems, that we finally came to the conclusion that “fast response to life changes is the best way to relieve stress” and we began.
Another thing that has become clear is how positively it affects people when you ask them for help – they feel their value, and when a person is motivated to do something for the greater good, he performs miracles. Any ambition has gone into the background and we have obeyed the laws that no one has written but were existed in our team. ” – David Mamucharashvili, field manager. As a result of these efforts, the remote call center (a total of 100 permanent operators) is fully running in both Georgia and Kazakhstan. “This 42-hour story is very emotional for me – it’s a story about people’s amazing organizational skills, teamwork, dedication, creativity and the fact that nothing is impossible. The crisis is a kind of push for different thinking and action. It is this feeling that makes the ACT team even stronger and opens the way to new opportunities, “said Rusudan Telia, ACT Executive Director. This history of our small success gives us the reason and the belief that together we can handle all the challenges as we move towards a big goal with small steps.