December 7th, 2020
“I think that we in Denmark should start by praising ourselves for being ready for changes. I have mainly only heard successful stories about the digital transformation we have been through”
Interview with Claus Kenberg, Director of E-commerce & Marketing, GoGift
How would you describe digital management in 2021?
In relation to Covid-19, digital management has for me become a practice that takes place from a distance - but thanks to digital tools, it's been easy to maintain collaboration and confidentiality with colleagues. In the light of the great digital step we have taken during the pandemic, I believe that digital management has changed into a new, different, and not least a better level.
We as leaders have faced the 'out of sight, out of mind' challenge, and there have been other disadvantages too - but in GoGift, we have also seen advantages in terms of more flexibility and by allowing another type of confidentiality than what we have been used to. Transparent communication and leadership are - and have - always been vital. We must also be able to do this digitally.
And what should the foundation be as a minimum now? The new digital possibilities have shown us that we can work more efficiently from a distance under the right circumstances - both in terms of the actual work and in terms of having a solid work/life balance. In GoGift, everyone has a laptop that they can bring home on which they have the programs and the accesses they need. I would argue that working effectively from home should indeed be feasible in a modern business.
How do you maintain a proper company culture digitally?
In GoGift, 'digital' has always been part of our DNA, and therefore this is not the biggest challenge. At the same time though, we also have extensive global visions, and therefore this is not only about carrying our company culture forward digitally but also globally. But fortunately, the two can walk hand in hand.
How will the creative development be maintained?
Those who know me would probably call me a bit of a whiteboard fanatic. So working without a physical whiteboard has been a challenge for me creatively. Instead of being able to quickly and spontaneously gather some colleagues from GoGift in front of a whiteboard, we have had to adjust and transfer this option to chats and virtual whiteboards. It has gone much better than feared, and this shows that a lot has happened in terms of the supply of digital tools.
Is it a challenge to keep the employees?
I have not experienced this during the Covid-19 period, nor do I experience it as a challenge in general. But I believe that the new digital opportunities are helping to make companies recognize the benefits that digital working methods have shown us. I believe that homework will become more common in the future, and especially the younger generations will place greater demands on flexibility.
What are the strongest learnings that we should keep or get rid of?
I think that we in Denmark should start by praising ourselves for being ready for changes. I have mainly only heard successful stories about the digital transformation we have been through. I think the most significant learning is that working digitally from home is not a black/white circumstance - instead, we have learned that the flexibility it brings is a great advantage. Many work tasks can be better solved from home, just as well as transport and travel can be reduced without negative consequences.
How do you see changes in decision-making processes and employee involvement? Currently, in GoGift, it did not cause significant changes. Our meetings just moved online via our chat and conference tools. I can see that the digital forms of work can lead to poorer processes, inadequate coverage of stakeholders or inferior decision-making competence. Still, I think the most important thing is that managers do not practice ‘out of sight, out of mind’. All your colleagues are just as accessible as when they are in the office. It just requires us to adjust.
What do you do to onboard new employees when physical attendance is not possible?
At GoGift, I actually had an employee who started on the day when Denmark went into lockdown. The actual onboarding was then done through our video conferencing system, which at the same time proved to have the advantage of being able to record the sessions. Thus, the new colleague had a small film for each of his new work assignments. It became a different onboarding, but not necessarily worse. In terms of management, I think the most important thing is that the manager is visible, accessible and, in general, keeps his virtual door to his virtual office open.