Terje Andersen of Forse tells us about creating a place to work with freedom, technical focus, and passion with like-minded people.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Terje Andersen: Well, we are lucky so far that none of us have been sick by Covid-19. Besides this, I have to be honest and say that the hard restrictions in Norway have been a challenge for our family. All four of us sitting home for over a year either working or receiving digital instructions from school can be hard to manage. But what really impresses me is how patient my kids are in these times. Imagine myself being locked down from society in my late teens would probably have been a disaster.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Forse.
Terje Andersen: The idea of Forse started with 6 senior consultants from different companies who wanted to create a place to work with freedom, technical focus, and passion with like-minded people. Being asked to lead this start-up and be privileged to finally start from scratch and build something in our own image was a dream come true. We have, through the past 10 years, built two niche environments with a focus on gathering the best, most dedicated, and customer-centric .NET and Mobile developers.
How does Forse innovate?
Terje Andersen: Wow, if you could ask me this question in a few months or so, I would be thrilled to give you a more fulfilling answer. The fact is that we have been a bit poor around this internally at Forse until very recently; we only focused on innovation and digitization for our customers. However, we find that attracting the talents we want to join Forse we need to focus on and facilitate for an innovative environment. We believe that the idea we are working with at the moment to engage innovation at Forse will be a big boost for our employees. This is still in the planning phase and too early to reveal, I’m afraid.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Terje Andersen: We are coping very well! We are extremely privileged to work in an industry still going strong and with customers still appreciating our services through this pandemic. This is something we keep reminding ourselves of, even though it’s a bit lonely with home office in the long run. Long-term relations are very important for Forse, and we stand with our customers through good and bad times. We had some assignments through 2020 where we had to lower our price levels, but at the same time, we didn’t lose a single customer through the year, and our results were still very strong. 2021 is also looking good so far.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Terje Andersen: I have been in this game for over twenty-five years now and experienced .com crises, oil crises, financial crises, and now this pandemic. The lesson learned is that skilled, experienced, and reliable developers are always attractive.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Terje Andersen: In crises, there is always a need for psychological safety. This can be in the work environment, at home, economy, your assignment, etc. The first thing we did was to guarantee all employees normally on commission-based salary a liveable minimum salary, no matter what the invoicing might be. Secondly, every employee has their own budgets, which could be used for building a better home office area. We have also continued our social and technical meetings through teams and focused on a close dialogue with our employees and customers. All helping to have a certain feeling of control and connection even if the world seems to be uncertain and unstable.
In December, we decided to buy Oculus Quest 2 VR-headsets for all of our employees. We wanted to create much more fun and realistic environment for meetings than we experienced in teams. We use VR for meetings, professional and social gatherings. The largest financial newspaper in Norway, “Dagens Næringsliv,” actually did a story about us last week which has given us a lot of attention.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Terje Andersen: Actually, I would rather like to call them partners. We partner up with a lot more companies than we compete with. I believe that the market is big enough for all serious suppliers and I truly believe that the future will bring a lot of possibilities for our business. Our main competitive advantage is that we only employ highly skilled consultants, and together with very satisfied customers, we are in a situation where there is constantly more demand for our services than we are able to take on.
To stay in the game, we need to take care of our existing consultants and at the same time dare to search for more top talent, preferably even better than ourselves. This is the only way to challenge each and every person in the company to stay on top of the game and keep growing as human beings.
Your final thoughts?
Terje Andersen: Don’t worry, be happy
In every life, we have some trouble
But when you worry, you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy now
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