As 2020 draws mercifully to a close, I thought it would make sense to share a few reflections on this once in a lifetime (hopefully) year.
As the COVID-19 pandemic started to unfold in early March, we made the decision to go all remote (we typically worked in the office on Mondays and Thursdays and allowed people to work where they wanted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays). I remember telling our company at our afternoon standup on Thursday, March 12th, “We will be going all remote for the next 6 weeks out of an abundance of caution due to the virus. I look forward to seeing everyone back in the labs on Monday, May 4th.” Wow, did I get that wrong.
As I sit and write this in December 2020, we are still working remote. And we declared we are a “remote first” company. Being a remote first company means that anything we do as a company has to be designed to work properly if someone is remote. We will not depend on anyone being in person.
That said, we did reopen our office in June 2020, and people are free to work there as they see fit. But no one is required to come to the office, and all of our business processes are now completely designed to operate with remote first in mind.
With the immense changes that 2020 has brought, I think some targeted reflection is in order.
2020 at 1904labs started strong. Our first four months were the best in our young company’s history. And the next eight months have been the most challenging in our history. But in this challenging period, I can see a more flexible and resilient 1904labs emerging.
We have developed more varied options for doing work for our clients. This includes shorter engagements and smaller team structures that compliment our traditional year-long contracts with five (or more) person teams. And companies that heretofore only worked with consultants who were onsite have given us a shot to help them out since everyone is remote right now. Both of these changes have enabled 1904labs to work with new companies in 2020.
And I continue to marvel at the resilience and creativity of our people. 2020 has allowed people to work from home all the time. And while there is a lot of goodness for many in this new arrangement, it has also come with new and significant stressors, especially for our team members who have school-aged kids who are also being forced to learn remotely at home. In spite of the challenges, our people continue to serve our clients with excellence. For that, I will be eternally grateful, because it has allowed us to continue to operate through these trying times.
But we will retain what we have learned through the trials of 2020 and incorporate what makes sense into our new normal operating model going forward.
Personally I have learned – really relearned – that I can take nothing for granted. Just when you think everything is going well, life will most certainly throw something at you that you don’t expect. And that was certainly true in 2020. I simply needed to accept the new reality of the pandemic’s impact on our business, make the necessary adjustments to our plans, and continue to move forward.
And our people here at 1904labs adjusted as well. Together, we made it through to the end of 2020 stronger than ever. The first questions we ask about a potential new teammate joining the labs is “Will they be a good teammate?” and “Do they understand innovation is a team sport?” This teamwork orientation of every member of 1904labs is critical and was even more key in 2020.
As we turn the page on 2020 and look forward to 2021, and the vaccines have arrived to hopefully help put this pandemic in our rear view mirror in the first half of the new year, I am hopeful we can return to a more normal operating environment for the benefit of our people and our clients.
As with all clouds, there was a silver lining for 1904labs to all the pressures unleashed by the pandemic. Every business was reminded they need to be able to react faster to unforeseen events. And the best way to do that is to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.
1904labs purpose is clearly stated on the home page of our website:
As such, we are well positioned and ready to help our clients in 2021 accelerate their digital transformation efforts.