We talked to Achim Trude, CEO at bendesk, a cloud-based SaaS solution for all corporate benefits in the company and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Achim Trude: Fortunately, everything has gone well with my family and I so far. Everyone is healthy, and that’s the most important thing. Only my kids miss their friends, of course, and are annoyed by online classes. But even with the “bendesk family, “we’ve been Corona free through the daily grind so far, and thankfully everyone is doing well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded bendesk.
Achim Trude: The development of the start-up idea bendesk already found its origin several years ago. I studied international business at WHU in Maastricht and subsequently founded two companies in the tech and HR sectors. In the process, I noticed that there are many employee benefits such as meal allowance, daycare allowance, job bike, or company pension scheme, but hardly anyone knows how these can be combined or even aggregated in a legally secure way. That’s why I’m working with my team to develop a platform that solves precisely these problems.
How does bendesk innovate?
Achim Trude: The bureaucratic effort for benefits administration and the integration into payroll accounting is very complex and an enormous challenge for companies without prior knowledge. That’s why we developed “bendesk”: It is a cloud-based platform for employee benefits administration that not only simplifies the life of the HR department but also strengthens employer branding and thus makes employees happy. One of our favorite benefits is the company pension scheme. With over 10 years of experience, we are professionals in this field. So not only do we provide a benefits administration platform, but our customers are also advised directly by our in-house corporate pension scheme experts.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Achim Trude: Of course, a lot has changed in the area of corporate benefits during the Covid-19 pandemic. In particular, benefits that previously played a major role, such as a travel allowance or a job ticket, are now taking a back seat. Fortunately, topics such as the corporate pension scheme are now becoming increasingly important for people. This is a topic in which we are experts and for which we have been trying to create more awareness for a long time. However, in terms of our company, not much has changed; we are now all working from home and unfortunately have to do without our regular Pasta Wednesday. Nevertheless, we have to admit that we are more in demand than ever as a general digital enabler and can consider ourselves lucky not only to realize constant growth but even to accelerate it!
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Achim Trude: We always preach flat hierarchies in our company, and all teams are in constant exchange with each other. Of course, that’s much easier on-site than via online meetings. For me, it wasn’t a difficult step, but it was a bit sad to have to send everyone to work from home because I was afraid that we would lose our good communication. It was a bit bumpy at the beginning, and we definitely learned that remote work requires a lot more coordination and time structure. But I think that since we all got along well beforehand, we still managed to do it well, and we don’t lose our sense of fun when working remotely.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Achim Trude: Even before the pandemic, we relied on agile working methods such as Scrum. We agreed that this should remain the case for remote work as well. In particular, tools like Trello or Miro have provided relief here. Using Trello, everyone can enter and plan their tasks in a structured way and include other responsible parties, so you don’t lose track of everything. And Miro also works well for brainstorming sessions and more creative meetings. We are already setting our goals in the third quarter using the OKR method and are also doing well online. Our meetings with the whole team have also taken place online beforehand anyway, since we don’t all work in Cologne, but partly also from Berlin.
Your final thoughts?
Achim Trude: I think in general, of course, you can never ideally prepare for such a situation. We were just very lucky that we were already very digital beforehand and that our business is not dependent on on-site work. For us, everything could actually continue as before, and we were even able to hire some new team members. It was important to us that everyone was always well, even working from home. Such a situation is not to be underestimated both physically and psychologically. That’s why we always remember to get out into the fresh air in between and not to take everything too seriously, and then hopefully, we can all be back in the office together again soon.
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