How does proactive crisis management work?
Why digital processes are no longer discretionary but necessary.
Responsible leadership is the be-all and end-all.
The coronavirus threatens the lives of people all over the world. The virus also poses a serious threat to the health of the global economy as international trade suffers. The supply chain, the heart of logistics, suffers from production and transport failures. Freight forwarding companies face the big challenge of keeping the consequences as minimal as possible. They are called upon to implement far-reaching crisis management. How can customers be reliably looked after in this difficult situation?
The industry is unanimous: communication is the be-all and end-all. But our approach goes even further. When dealing with a crisis – whether it is caused by a pandemic, a natural disaster, or political events – we believe that, in addition to communication, three factors are crucial. Let’s explore each factor below:
Forward-looking crisis management
We’ve been closely following global developments since the outbreak of the pandemic and are trying to measure and absorb its effects on our customers and ourselves. We set up an internal crisis management team, the “Coronavirus Task Force,” at the beginning of January to keep a constant eye on the current news situation and its significance for international logistics. This allows us to react quickly, both internally and externally, and to make well-considered and timely recommendations for action. However, the worsening of the situation in Germany and Europe in the last two weeks required further measures. The critical question was: How do we master the balancing act between regularly reliable customer service and responsibility towards society as a whole and our employees in particular?
For our management, one thing was immediately clear: The safety and health of our FreightHub team is our greatest asset and guarantees that we can keep our standards and promises to our customers. In addition, as a young, forward-looking company, we in particular would like to make a contribution to social cohesion by reliably maintaining social distance while ensuring that the economy and society can continue to function during the crisis.
Digital company organization
In order to slow the spread of Corona in Germany, everyone is urged to avoid social contacts wherever possible. We have therefore obliged our employees to work from home until further notice – a step that represents a major challenge for many traditional logistics companies. Flexible working models, paperless processes and digitalization are non-existent or a novelty in many places in the industry. This is different with us – it has always been a living reality. Switching to a home office does not mean any reduction in our performance, our efficiency and our reliability towards customers.
Mobile working is an integral part of our policy to take into account the realities of our employees’ lives. Everyone on our team has their own company laptop from the moment they join us. Additional equipment that allows working from home for a longer period of time, such as monitors or desk chairs, is also available for the Corona period. Secondly, we attach great importance to personal responsibility, trust and communication. An autonomous and conscientious way of working is important for us. The exchange of information, meetings and even training sessions run smoothly for us despite social distance – digital communication tools such as Slack or the video conferencing software Zoom make it possible.
(Via FreightHub’s “Working from Home” Slack channel we exchange information about our home office experiences).
From a technical point of view, we move exclusively in the virtual world, which has never been more important than right now. We don’t have a large server room and there are no paper documents in circulation. Our work is completely cloud-based thanks to GoogleCloud. This has many advantages, both for us and our customers: It is cost-effective, environmentally friendly and offers the highest possible security. But above all, it means a very high degree of flexibility and efficiency both internally and externally.
Each of our employees can access all data from anywhere, including home. It is always possible to perform one’s own tasks, but also to track those of colleagues and take over in case of illness. It is also very easy to work together on transports and documents. Thanks to our platform, we can provide our customers with updates, corrections and new functions even faster and can offer them guaranteed independence. We give our customers full visibility into and access to their data at all times.
(Thanks to the FreightHub overview, customers always have an overview of all their transports)
In practice, this means customers always have an overview of their freight, can check its status and, in case of doubt, can change transport routes or modes, while always being informed of any financial impact. This is particularly relevant in a crisis, where priorities of companies and societies can change rapidly.
As management, it is particularly important for us to communicate to our employees that we are sticking together as a FreightHub team even in these difficult times, that helpfulness and solidarity are lived throughout the company and that no one is left on their own. We take the physical and mental health of all our employees very seriously. If someone at FreightHub should fall ill with Covid-19, we have made provisions to manage the situation. Of course, this applies not only to the internal distribution of tasks. We also see it as our responsibility as an employer to provide support in the event of an infection, for example through information sheets with instructions and emergency contacts or through our network, which can take over necessary private errands. We also want to continue to intensively cultivate social interaction and our corporate culture, which is characterized by team spirit. That’s why we offer our people a wide range of joint activities – from lunches to yoga to game evenings – even when they are far away, but only virtually.
(The FreightHub management team communicates with each other via video conferencing using the Zoom tool).
Corona subjects health systems, political decision-makers, companies and also societies and each individual, to a tough test. How can we pass this test? How can logistics companies master them? Our answer at FreightHub is as simple as it is effective: It can only work if we work together – and digitally.