As we all weather the coronavirus crisis, the world has quickly adapted to radically new working environments. We reached out to members of the AirPlus community to find out just how these changes look. Global Sales & Account Manager François Dodane tells us what it’s like caring for customers who are working from home too.
François, first of all, how are you? And how does the current situation in Europe look from your perspective?
The situation seems similar country to country across Europe. Most people have found new habits during lockdown. And many of us are now looking ahead and making plans for when the lockdown will be over. I personally am taking this situation as an incredible experience with many opportunities to learn from and positive takeaways.
What has been the biggest challenge for you working from home?
Working from home per se hasn’t been a problem as I work remotely most of the time anyway (when I’m not on the road for meetings). So this hasn’t been a new challenge. However, I’ve encounter some tech issues mainly with video conferencing and calls due to the high number of people connecting at the same time.
You have to organize work, children, and a household at the same time. Do you have any tips for colleagues in the same situation?
Organization, organization, organization. I also do everything in advance when it’s possible. Cooking, for example! Cooking is planned and prepared so that we can keep a full day focused on work and homework.
It's important to remember that we are all in the same boat. When I call my clients, I can hear their kids playing in the background, same as mine. This actually provides an opportunity to connect.
What is your current working day like?
Having kids at home with homework to do has required strict organization. My current working day is usually a mixture of various tasks including calls/videos with clients and prospects, internal virtual meetings, working on RFPs, preparing the field for next steps, and working on master agreements and web contracts. Being in the payment industry and working in the commercial arena makes every day full of responsibilities anyhow.
What advice would you give to customers wondering about the future of business travel and corporate payment in the wake of the coronavirus crisis?
When customers wonder about the future, it’s a positive thing. Thinking is healthy! It means that they are looking ahead and they are awake, preparing themselves. The worst thing to do would be to stay, watch, and not question anything. Therefore, those customers, by wondering, are already going in the right direction. Of course, the future might be a different one from today, but there will be a future after all.
Payment and travel are both highly disruptive industries. They are in constant flux, moving with new behaviors, user experiences, and technologies. Both of these industries have shown in the past that they are extremely good at reinventing themselves, reshaping, creating and bringing forward new values and benefits.
Positive takeaways have already emerged from the coronavirus crisis: the ability to work remotely with virtual meetings, the rise of invisible and contactless payment (and the uselessness of cash), the importance of employee health, the CO2 impact, the necessity to go digital, the value of data, and much more.
We all just have to embrace the changes!
How difficult is it to keep up team spirit in times like these?
Team spirit was strong before Covid-19, but it’s even stronger now! My feeling has been that we don’t need to worry about keeping it up as our spirit never left! I think it’s natural in times like these to know that we’re stronger together. We haven’t lost the habits to share, comment, discuss, and support each other that we had before Covid19.
How do you stay motivated? How do you keep in touch with your colleagues?
I believe it’s a question of attitude and behavior. There is indeed a lot of uncertainties at the moment. We are living in difficult times that won’t be going away quickly. However, I see in any challenging situation a chance to learn, to test, and to grow. It’s also a fantastic period of opportunity for creativity and thinking. My motivation is high as I believe that the future will be bright. At least, I allow myself a chance to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Keeping in touch with colleagues across Europe was one of our first priorities. Beyond the various team meetings and group calls, we have created a specific team called ‘life in remote’ in charge of making our new virtual lives more fun, and keeping the links between all colleagues, no matter the department you belong to. We’ve had calling games, pictures games, cooking practice, remote online sport activities, online yoga, drawing challenges for our children, and more. It maintains the link with colleagues in and out of working hours.
What do you think is most important for us right now? How can we best get through this crisis?
Obviously, health is most important! And that’s probably what we need to best get through this crisis: staying healthy and caring for others are values that must be more real to us than ever before. I believe that any crisis or challenging time should be viewed as an opportunity to become stronger and cleverer.
Thank you for your time, François!