We talked to Eric Meurers of Interlutions about value addition for customers, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Eric Meurers: We’re doing fine. My wife is working from the home office, I’m working from the office, and the kids are attending kindergarten. We have not been ill at all since the beginning of the pandemic, not even flu. And we had a chance to travel just before it all began and in summer, between the lockdowns.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Interlutions.
Eric Meurers: I started Interlutions in 1999, the same year as Google started with my business partner Christian Schmidt. We met in 1997 at Dumont, the local newspaper editor, where we started building their first websites. We founded Interlutions with literally no budget, but everybody needed professional services then – and everybody still does. So we started working for the Deutsche Post (DHL), Renault Germany, and Nintendo of Europe, and all of a sudden, we had 20 to 30 people – developers, designers, and project managers – around us, helping us make the company grow.
How does Interlutions innovate?
Eric Meurers: We constantly do, together with our clients and their projects. Because just as our developers, clients want the hottest technologies, the newest versions, the best of breed. And we give our staff time to explore, to attend conferences, to try new things.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Eric Meurers: I’d like to say it didn’t affect our business because we don’t want to search for any excuses for not doing things the way we did them before. But of course – although we had a 100% home office policy before the pandemic – many more of our colleagues work from home as before. It works, but we miss the real teamwork in our offices. In terms of clients and projects, the pandemic brought record figures to us: we never had so many new clients and projects as in 2020 – by far.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Eric Meurers: We made a choice to let everyone decide freely for themselves to work from home, even in situations where their presence at the office would have been helpful because we wanted everyone to feel comfortable in this particular situation. We feel that our employees are paying back this trust.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Eric Meurers: No specific tools. We had migrated everything to cloud services before the crisis. Concerning management, we trust in a large team of managers and in the self-organization of every employee, serving them as consultants rather than telling them what to do. This has become crucial with everyone working from home. But it has been important before the pandemic.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Eric Meurers: We have thousands of competitors, and there’s enough work for everyone. We are digitalizing the businesses. Those who had not taken the decision to do so before the crisis started to do so last year.
Your final thoughts?
Eric Meurers: My thoughts are with the businesses that got seriously affected by the pandemic: travel industry, fashion, event agencies, and so on. Some of them really took their fate into their own hands and transformed their business model in a way that they could serve new needs, such as our client b.effective, an event agency that now specializes in online events.