Life throws us many challenges to the point where living can sometimes feel like a Sysiphian boulder we are rolling up a hill for eternity. But the truth is different. Often, all that’s staying in our way is ourselves. What’s important is that we don’t back down from a challenge and that we don’t give up. If you persevere and focus on finding new ways of succeeding, you will, ultimately, find your way up. And that’s exactly what we did last spring when COVID-19 hit Czechia.
As you may know, our agency provides services to expats in Czechia. With coronavirus restrictions came closures of borders, new expats stopped coming, and we suddenly lost a significant part of business and clients. The solution had to come immediately. And so we threw ourselves into work and began implementing various changes to make sure we not only survive but that we come out of this crisis stronger.
How We Fought
- Cost-cutting measures – We got rid of some of the expendable costs. For example, in Brno – Foreigners Head Office – we moved from our city view offices on the seventh floor down to the second floor to save on rent
- Temporary decrease of salaries – We all agreed on a temporary decrease in salaries, which has now been evened up or increased again
- Job cuts – We let go of a part-time employee and one of our other employees quit because she switched jobs. In the end, we decided to not replace either of these positions, because we realized that other colleagues could easily cover the work. Ultimately, we saved money on these positions
- Non-essential events freeze – We completely stopped all team-building activities and other non-essential events
- Crisis meetings – We established crisis video calls several times per week to update each other on the situation, to share information about what works, what has been implemented, what else can be done, and also to motivate and comfort each other
- Changes in marketing – We began targeting expats already living in Czechia as well as Czech property owners and prospective Czech tenants. Our Agency also reorganized its portfolio to promote and prioritize those services we can still provide during the pandemic
- Keeping clients informed – We began distributing a daily newsletter informing our clients about the current situation. Ultimately, we decided to keep this service in the future and add general information from English-speaking Czech media. This newsletter is still available today and you can sign up here
- Working from home – Most of us have worked from home, and meetings have been replaced with regular management calls and team calls. We wanted to make sure to maintain regular contact with each other to strengthen team spirit. Today, we are back in the office, but some of us choose to work part-time from home.
- Systemic improvements – We have made important systemic changes to ensure better functioning of the company, aiming towards becoming a company that’s more self-managing. For instance, we have been planning on implementing working from home (with the exception of client meetings) in our Prague branch for a while now, so coronavirus merely sped up the process
- Being proactive and curious – We made sure to ask questions, communicate with people in other fields, confer with our company coach, and also within the company
Total transparency and support – We have remained transparent with everyone in the company. We have talked about numbers of clients, sales numbers, and all the measures taken to ensure the company’s survival. We also did our best to keep ourselves busy and happy, so that we don’t sink into depression, supporting each other to get through this together.
Surviving and Thriving
Our Head of PR & Marketing, Lucie Pátková, was on a completely different continent when Czechia first administered a lockdown, and so she had to set up a completely new marketing strategy from across the pond:
“I was still doing my internship in the US when all the restrictions came into effect. So I had to get up and first of all check what had been declared in Czechia, so we could inform our clients on our channels. Despite the time difference, I managed to communicate with the team and the management and we began to set up a completely new marketing strategy.”
Lucie also describes how the age of COVID-19 changed the nature of her job:
“Regular work had to be put aside. We had to establish new campaigns, new strategies, create new spreadsheets, etc. We needed to react quickly. Those days were extremely busy and exhausting. But it all worked out well, so that’s the best reward. And I learned that change doesn’t have to be necessarily a bad thing – quite the opposite. Sometimes change allows you to suddenly find what you have been looking for for a long time.”
Ultimately, we all came together to make sure the company comes out stronger on the other side of the pandemic. We didn’t back down from this challenge and thanks to smart decisions – also made and implemented by our CEO, Andrea Tkačuková – persevered. As she says about those tough times:
“We wouldn’t be able to get through those hurdles without a strong team. We rallied the troops and our employees didn’t spook, pulled together, and worked extra-hard, often over-time when necessary, to make sure the entire company survived and thrived.”
Not only did we get through this crisis together as a team, but we also came out stronger. We are happy to support new expats every day and we are even more grateful for the trust you place in us!
We Can Help You!
Are you struggling with any immigration procedures in the Czech Republic? Feel free to reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to help you!