The Covid-19 pandemic has become a great challenge for all business leaders. With the shock that the recent crisis has brought to our life, they were forced to adjust to the new normal by shifting focus to the full spectrum of needs, which employees have as ordinary people. Business started acquiring the human face it is supposed to have, as serial entrepreneur and owner of ADSbase integrated communications company Denis Lagutenko believes.
One of the fundamental questions that commercial real estate investors have to answer this year is whether the “work from home” concept is here to stay and this will negatively affect commercial real estate rental rates for the foreseeable future. We looked into this question back in October and determined that the market was too pessimistic about office REITs and recommended a long position in Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT) when it was trading at $6.30. Today ESRT shares trade at $11.51 and it is time to check what employers think about remote work.
In more than 10 years of presence in internet marketing Denis Lagutenko founded about a dozen successful projects with a number of physical offices in different parts of the world and hundreds of remote employees. Decentralization like this has its own impact on the way the leader runs his business because it’s crucial to work out fundamentally different strategies that ensure your teams collaborate effectively while working from various physical locations. But according to Lagutenko the key is to make people feel a part of the single team.
However, as he highlights in an interview with Insider Monkey, giving an opportunity to work remotely is something that should be specifically tailored for each employee.
“I can’t say I’m keen on experiments, but with the advent of the pandemic, I realized that implementing greater flexibility in cooperation with my teams is essential,” Denis says. “In the pre-crisis times I used to measure the effectiveness of my employees by having them next to me in the office for all 8 hours a day. And now from personal experience, I see that limited workspace can easily cause limited opportunities for self-realization through professional life. Some people need this freedom to generate good ideas or make effective decisions and my goal is to provide them with the best possible environment.”
Providing stability and transparent communication
Citing the experience of Visa, Lagutenko remarks that it’s always a big draw if you consider preparing to go through all possible scenarios when your employees can’t get to the office. At the same time, remote working entails complete remodelling of business processes so they are the most optimized. While earlier people were able to agree upon many operational issues verbally, now they can easily get stressed if not provided with relevant tools which will automate all critical interactions.
With that in mind, Denis notes that maintaining constant feedback between managers and employees with the help of both messengers like WhatsApp and Telegram and video conferences in Skype and Zoom is necessary.
“In the re-opening phase it has become alright to increase the daily amount of time you spend to sync up with the team. And if there are a handful of task managers like Jeera, Notion and Trello that can help with setting up the workflow and solving online reporting issues, only you as a leader is capable of supporting an atmosphere of trust, optimism and desire to succeed.”
Denis further states that this adds significantly to the employee’s overall motivation to develop and achieve common goals.
“Periodically informing your teammates – especially those who are the most creative and resourceful – about which direction the company is heading, what ambitions we have and how we plan to reach new heights will help them see their own benefits and encourage them to work more enthusiastically.”
Greater responsiveness is paramount
For business leaders it’s mostly a matter of psychology. As a founder of several businesses that have developed into the flagships of the industry, Lagutenko adheres to a position that all problems – be they professional or personal – should be carefully listened to and discussed in time. The right decision depends on what is the reason for the stagnation: sometimes it’s just enough to put an employee to rest, but there are some cases where a career shift is required. As a rule, no one is a lost cause and all it takes is a little push.
“Sometimes I also need someone to hear me out,” Denis admits. “Thanks to my family that always supports me in tough times and helps me find the way out of any crisis even if I can’t see it myself. For me, it’s of vital importance to set out the difficulties and, ideally, to switch between different activities and locations. By the way, this is one more advantage of working remotely.”
While many business leaders made it a habit to launch online training and small-talk meetings to avoid stress and burnout as well as to increase the level of employees’ productivity, Denis Lagutenko prefers to combine new approaches with old traditions.
“Birthday presents that we turn into online courses and certificates, various contests and events like Easter egg hunt in the empty office brought into reality through unusual design solutions, and providing hospitals with PPEs and disinfectant… We put all our efforts to lift the team’s spirit and we do really amazing.”
Proper onboarding cannot be overlooked
Positive climate among all the employees is what Lagutenko strives to create in ADSbase. The company will unite several of his separate affiliate-marketing projects including media and events under one roof to make them complement each other and provide advertisers with a brand-new experience. Although this required fast adaptation of multiple employees simultaneously, Denis doesn’t recommend replicating such experience if your team is completely new.
“ADSbase is finding its feet rapidly because I have that vote of confidence given by people I’ve already worked with. But we met some new specialists from a range of fields as well, and each of them is entitled to individual approach and support. It’s normal that people who are new to the sphere feel insecure and if they are set adrift at the very beginning because you don’t have enough time to help them fit in, you’re most likely to fail in the process of teambuilding.”
Denis also emphasizes that having a strong and solid team of creative specialists is what makes his latest brainchild truly unique and opens new digital horizons for ADSbase. In the near future the company is planning to enter new markets, which Lagutenko views as a good strategy for growing in the context of the crisis.
“As I’ve launched numerous projects myself, I know what kind of services the industry lacks,” he claims. “With our own databases, online platforms and conferences, ADSbase will act as a one-stop platform for advertisers who search for various advertising opportunities and don’t want to waste their time trying to connect with individual webmasters. I’d say we have banded together to ensure that our every client willing to flourish will hit it big.”
Ingredients needed for success
Denis reveals that while speculating on possible development strategies for his projects, he often relies on intuition, which he believes is one of his strengths.
“Getting into business for yourself is also a job that you choose because you feel you can be really good at it. It’s definitely a talent that you develop every day with great passion and love for everything you do. And when you have this talent, many right decisions are made instinctively.”
Denis adds that his team is an essential part of his impressive accomplishments.
“I’ve come a long way before turning into an investor and businessman. While still a student, I worked as a handyman, salesman, system administrator… And I was even that guy who developed photographs and was ready to lay track in the subway at night. I know what it is to “work for the man” as some people like to call it, and try to do my best so my employees don’t think of working with me like that. No matter what happens with the world we live in now, your team is the most precious resource you simply must reckon with and take care of.”