Good morning. How are you? Do you also work from home? The questions we ask each other in this COVID19 time when we speak to each other via Teams, Zoom, or telephone.
These are strange times. Our office in Wageningen became desolate in mid-March. Everyone works from home. The facilities to do that were already in place, but from the moment the Netherlands went into intelligent lockdown, they were used much more intensively.
Business as usual, you’d say, but something’s missing. The personal contact with your colleagues, a chat at the coffee machine, a lunch walk with the opportunity to talk about some other things with your colleagues – You don’t get that contact through an online Teams meeting.
Within AIP, we did try to give substance to that social aspect in the time of lockdown. Online coffee breaks and Friday afternoon drinks are examples of this. Let’s get together on the line and catch up. Some were more prominent present than others, but there was informal contact.
Our regular bi-monthly company meeting became a monthly online meeting. With more than 30 people being updated online about the state of affairs in the company. How are we doing, and what are the prospects? Fortunately, the crisis does not, or hardly at all, affect our own business. However, some of our customers are having a hard time. It’s good to share that with colleagues. To also give the meetings a somewhat informal character, we introduce the online quiz. Sometimes with questions about colleagues, sometimes with questions about a specific market in which we work. Funny to see that the competition element makes people unconsciously fanatic online.
The AIP barbecue
The beginning of summer is traditionally the time for the AIP barbecue. Often at one of the employees at home in the garden, a cozy barbecue. This year, of course, it also fell into the water as a result of the COVID19 guidelines. To keep this tradition alive, on a Saturday in June – all AIP-people are provided with a meat package to have a kind of AIP barbecue with their own family. That’s how we try to maintain the AIP team feeling.
And how’s it going commercially?
Commercially, the process has completely shifted from physical visits to online contact. Events such as an ISF congress, the Flowertrials, and in September Seed Meets Technology were canceled. For us, the place to get in touch with new leads. Fortunately, we have our commercial network in order, and we can also develop new business online. Everyone is in the same boat, so it is also very acceptable for everyone to maintain online contact and not to get in the car and physically visit a customer.
We’re supporting our customers, providing them free licenses of our mobile observation app. This gives customers the opportunity to use the capacity of local employees to observe and score their trial fields, which they probably had visited themselves physically in a non COVID19 period.
In short, the crisis and the guidelines are challenging, but the AIP team is running smoothly, and our business remains at the right level. We look carefully but positively to the future and will continue to support our customers with our beautiful software products and the knowledge and service of our committed employees.