We talked to Katya Linossi of ClearPeople about wellness and actively supporting a team to develop personally as well as professionally, and she had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Katya Linossi: We’ve had our ups and downs, but generally, I can’t complain because our direct families are all healthy.
For me, the pandemic has made things like money, power, and materialistic items far less important if you don’t have your health. I now appreciate the little things and being surrounded by the people I love and who care about me.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ClearPeople.
Katya Linossi: I have been fortunate to work in a number of roles, from testing software to technical consulting and running an e-commerce site with colleagues from across the world. Before launching ClearPeople, I worked as a web project manager.
I founded ClearPeople after the birth of my first child. I made the decision to quit my job and start a business that not only gave me better options but would provide that for employees too.
From a young age, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. With my previous IT experience and talent for helping companies with their digital projects, I had the skillset to create a great business offering. Since its creation in 2003, ClearPeople has been providing hundreds of companies with digital workplace solutions.
How does ClearPeople innovate?
Katya Linossi: Firstly, at ClearPeople, we see innovation as more than just a product or technological development. Innovation is about being able to identify new value for your customers, which is done through interactions with employees, clients, and partners.
To do this, you need to encourage open conversations with all of the above groups to gain valuable insight. We use a variety of methods and tools to encourage communication on all levels – we share and translate ideas in our own tool Atlas.
For a company to flourish, innovation needs to be ingrained in its culture. One of our company values is to “always be adventurous,” meaning that we will always encourage any new ideas and reward the employees who do so. Even if these ideas result in failure, we see it as a success because, without failure, we would never learn, ultimately helping to improve both our customer and employee experience.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Katya Linossi: Like many businesses throughout the UK, our finances were impacted by the first lockdown; deals that were meant to be closed were put on hold while companies focused on moving their staff as smoothly as they could to working from home model.
Leading up to the second lockdown, our product Atlas, a digital workspace, has been recognized as a valuable tool for organizations who have come to realize that remote work is not just a temporary solution. As more businesses learn to not only cope with remote working but understand the importance of staying connected to develop their business permanently, we have had numerous inquiries about our product.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Katya Linossi: There is no doubt that 2020 was a tumultuous year, challenging every one of us in our daily lives. In the corporate space, the pandemic has been incredibly challenging for leaders, who have felt the huge weight of responsibility.
For us, there were a couple of stand-out moments when the first lockdown took place. The first was that despite what was happening, we had to put that aside and ensure that, first and foremost, we were looking after everyone within the company. The most important task was to make sure everyone was safe, doing well, and able to smoothly work from home.
I will forever remember how amazing our team was in looking after each other. I recall thinking how our values of ‘OneFamily’ are not just words on our office wall – they are alive and embody who we are. We also had new starters join just before the lockdown, who managed amazingly well, even though they have still not met their colleagues in person.
At this point in time, ClearPeople was in the middle of transitioning from a professional services agency to a product-led company and the pandemic accelerated this transition. During this difficult time, communication, empathy, and being completely transparent with the staff were key to helping us all get through this period.
Our team was incredibly supportive throughout. We achieved incredible things within a short space of time, including our game-changing release in September last year, and were named one of the few launch partners for Microsoft’s new Artificial Intelligence services.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Katya Linossi: We have always focused on developing long-term relationships with our customers. From the very beginning, we made a concerted effort to communicate regularly to our clients and to support them in any way we could. As we are a Microsoft partner, we have for a number of years set up client areas so we can effectively collaborate together with them. This became even more vital during the pandemic as everyone switched to a remote working model. We also continued with our implementation of a new Helpdesk tool that has also helped us to share useful resources with our customers and provide them with a better service. With these practices and tools in place, I believe that we’ve actually managed to build stronger relationships with our clients than before the pandemic.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Katya Linossi: Yes, we did. The schemes certainly helped to ease our cash flow, especially since our sales pipeline was deeply impacted the first few months of the first lockdown.
Your final thoughts?
Katya Linossi: I empathize with so many business owners who have had no choice but to close their doors permanently. There is a mental resilience that may not always be fully appreciated in running a business where you have to find ways to fund it and worry about the livelihoods of your staff whilst simultaneously trying to forecast the impossible in an environment that none of us expected.
Personally, over the last year, I have learnt so much about myself regarding humility, empathy, and appreciation, as well as the ability to keep going. Across the UK, the development of vaccines has given us all hope that there is an end in sight, and we are now on the right track to getting back to some sort of normal. I will forever take these learnings forward with me, and I hope that other leaders will remember long after the pandemic is over that these lessons should influence our future approach to our employees.