Evolution of UMEGA
UMEGA was founded in 2007 and the last 14 years have been a lifetime for our business. UMEGA has evolved as we’ve learned, improved and adapted to a continually changing environment. Without learning and adapting constantly, we would not have been successful, or even survived, as a business and that’s been more relevant than ever over the last 2 years. While we’ve weathered the COVID storm and managed to progress as a business, we’ve still got a lot to learn as we take UMEGA forward into the future.
This blog highlights some of the current challenges keeping us awake at night.
No longer a Face to Face Company Culture
We’ve spent 14 years building a customer service business driven by a company culture that, for over 12 of these years, we nurtured and cultivated around a centralised office environment. We’ve learned and grown together as a team and until COVID hit, we had not appreciated how much we relied on being together in our office to make this happen. Switching to remote working has made life more difficult; sharing key insights, collaborating and learning together, problem solving, role modelling and celebrating our company values. As a business, we’re not going back to the old ways so we’re learning to do culture differently. We need to think again about how best to share information, build trust with each other and create the freedom and confidence to experiment, fail and learn as a team when we’re not in the same room.
Learning Together is Harder
It’s hard to learn together when you can’t gather around a whiteboard to discuss the latest realisations about our business. Like many schools and universities, we’ve realised that remote learning can be very effective but we’ve had to develop new skills and methods in order to do this. We now have open communication channels where we share documents, data, reports, pre-recorded presentations and videos explaining the latest learnings across the business. This helps everyone in the team understand what realisations and evidence is driving decision-making in the business relating to things like new softwares, resourcing and process changes. We’ve also worked hard to keep lines of communication open between everyone in the business so that decisions can be discussed and explained.
Harder to Keep Work/Life Boundaries
Like many businesses, we realised at some point last year that remote working was here to stay. We’d tried unsuccessfully in the past to introduce an element of remote working at UMEGA but we found we couldn’t easily move away from the positive impact of having everyone working in the same space. Then COVID happened.
One of the silver linings at UMEGA from the pandemic is that we successfully made the switch to remote working. It literally happened overnight. That has given us a golden opportunity to help employees free up more time for their personal lives and development but it means that we need to be more conscious of creating boundaries between our work lives and personal lives. We are developing new skills as a group and creating new working practices to compensate for the old routines of 9-5 breaking down without the physical boundaries that we took for granted.
It’s been difficult to not “take work home with you” when you spend much of the week working from your kitchen table. As a team, we’re learning what we need to put in place to stop us feeling like we’re living in our own personal office, rather than working from home.
One of our team, who has been with us since the early days, described the current evolution as UMEGA 4.0. This is how it must feel for many employees in many businesses across the world as we adjust to working lives changed by the pandemic. We’re working to take every opportunity to improve our customer and employee experience while finding new ways to bring back the bits of our culture and business that make UMEGA what it is. This work will never be finished, UMEGA will always be a company working to be better than before. COVID is just the latest challenge for us to overcome.