How did Muhamer Mustafa’s exchange develop after the lockdown in Italy?
The situation has had a tremendous effect in my daily routine, from being able to enjoy my daily bus rides through the beautiful panoramas of Tuscany and especially the Chianti area where my relationship is taking place, to having a limited view of nature only by the windows in the apartment I’m living in. My relationship with my Host Entrepreneur started on the 10th of February of this year. We had a strong start working towards our goals because my business plan matches my HE’s current business model. I got to the chance to learn great information from the beginning, and it was like a dream coming true. One week after, the government of Italy locked down the Lombardy region, by this time me and my HE were already looking for ways on how to prepare in case of a lockdown in our region, that of Tuscany. In our commitment that we prepared before our relationship started, we did agree on working on Marketing strategy and Financial planning for the first half of our EYE relationship, so for us, there was a possibility to work remotely together on our weekly schedule without sacrificing much of our goals. Overall, I would say that we have been affected in two areas, the first, not having a daily routine at the studio and not being able to share information in the place, while working. And the second was, we had to apply some changes and try to adapt in the new situation, that includes the workspace and also using new tools in communication, by changing and adapting the frequency of our interactions to the situation, on a daily basis.
Our relationship has changed from working in the same Studio with my HE and HE’s team to seeing each other on Skype and Google Meet. My HE and me decided to follow our schedule and determine to stay focused to reach our deadlines. We came up with the idea of using the “Asana” platform to keep each other informed and see the progress of each other without getting lost in countless emails, skype meetings and phone calls. We tried to have a precise schedule of the things that need to be done during the day and then communicate with each other in case of need or explanations regarding certain things. Since we have different routines of working, it is hard sometimes to be on track with everything and keeping at the same time the other team members informed. We try to catch up with everything usually on Friday when we have the Weekly Mentoring Hours, by that meaning all the doubts and request of information on specific topics.
So, I am working from my accommodation, in my case a flat. We have a weekly schedule and a daily schedule and we try to communicate at least two times per day to see at which point we are. Also, we have the weekly mentoring hours on Friday so we can share and ask information, or share things we thought about during the week. I follow my objectives by having a schedule and always keeping track of the process we are in.
I don’t believe I can suggest any tools other than the tools that I did mention like Google Meet, Skype, etc, however for the people that don’t have experience in working with groups of teams or working remotely, I would strongly suggest platforms such as Asana (asana.com) and Monday (monday.com). These platform shave limited free services, but you can search online for other team managing platforms. For the Young Entrepreneurs that don’t use these platforms, I believeGoogle services can be just as effective, by using Google Calendar and Google Drive. It can be confusing at the beginning but don’t be afraid of that, once you find a system of working, it can be easily done from then on.
The crisis situation had a big impact in our communication, so we had to change our attitude towards our clients, in a sense that, since this situation includes us all at the moment, we try to have a sense of professionalism in the process of working but at the same time a sense of humanity in understanding the difficulties. Somehow we are all in this together and since it’s a new situation for us all, we try to improve the communication by being sensitive about the circumstances, let’s say. Well, between me, the HE and the other employees, we had the idea of communication through emails at the beginning, and that created confusion between the members. So that didn’t work and it took time to find a new way of communication.
I tried to get as much insight as I could into how the state is helping my HE’s business, but I do understand that it’s a problem that takes time to resolve, since we are almost three weeks into this situation, the State of Italy is still working on measures to help the companies, and in my specific case the BH Studio. We can say that we are in a limbo when it comes to information regarding the State help for the companies. There are some specific ways the State tried to help the business, on a small scale, but since we don’t know how much will it last and how much damage it will create to the economy, we are taking it slowly by analysing the small steps, for now.
In general, I try to look at the situation in a positive way, I do understand the situation, also globally, but this is a very delicate, therefore important period for a company, where we can learn new tools and new ways of thinking about a business. Let it not be a pandemic, but economical crisis and State Crises could also be the reasons for putting ‘’on hold’’, therefore at risk, our business in the future, and learning how to act now, in this experimenting phase can be of great help for both of us, New and Host Entrepreneurs, in the future.
First of all, I hope other NEs are staying inside and are doing well. The only thing I would suggest since Italy was the first European country to get into this crisis, is the importance of a daily ritual. By daily ritual I mean having a schedule of what you have to do today in order to keep up with the exchange and on the other hand, trying to have some breaks during the day to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. I know it seems like an exaggeration of the situation, but in the long run (I hope it won’t last for long) it will help you to stay focused and not lose the sense of time and space.