How Covid-19 affected our work

All companies who have survived the Covid-19 blow are now probably evaluating its impact and planning how to move forward in times of uncertainty. Fortunately, we weren’t hit that hard by the consequences of the pandemic, however, we faced some problems and had to re-prioritize and reorganize our work. Here is how we at MTR Design handled the situation.

How Covid-19 affected the tech industry

The COVID-19 pandemic is far more than a health crisis: it has a major impact on societies and economies, prompting every business sector to suspend, minimize, or adjust their operations. The tech industry, and web development in particular, is no exception to that.

Generally speaking, the IT industry shouldn’t be hit that hard by the pandemic, since most activities are processed digitally, and remote work isn’t that much of a problem. However, it’s still dependent on the business environment, which is massively affected by Covid-19. And because of the significant disruptions in the supply chain, there are sectors of the tech industry that have taken a significant hit. Others, like e-commerce, online conferencing services, remote working platforms, cashless solutions, etc. experience significant growth.

The impact on our clients

As a web development service company, we at MTR Design largely depend on our clients and partners, their overall financial condition and the situation in their business sectors. Fortunately, we’re lucky to have a diversified set of customers operating in various spheres and from different countries, so we aren’t affected that much by the recession.

We did, however, undergo some changes in several of our projects, and had to reorganize our work a bit. Here are some examples from our professional experience in the times of pandemic, which you may find useful.

One of our partners is a UK-based one-man design shop, who has been working with clients from the restaurant and hotel business for more than 10 years. By mid-May, our client’s workload was reduced drastically (almost 100%, according to him), and we witnessed this on several of our mutual projects for restaurant and hotel chains that literally closed in a matter of months.

Another interesting case is that of the biggest Bulgarian theater (the “Ivan Vazov” National Theater). We developed and launched its new site six months ago, however the theater had to suspend its operations during lockdown in Bulgaria. Similar was the situation with an Australian client of ours, an education recruitment and management consultancy, whose business went down by 80% in the months during which Covid-19-related restrictions were imposed.

Another partner of ours, a California-based firm with which we’ve just started a new SaaS real estate project, underwent a major change in the sales plan as a result of the pandemic. They’ve just formed a new sales team, which had to be on-boarded, but this turned out to be impossible, as the offices were closed and the company wasn’t ready to let those employees work remotely. Consequently, the marketing of the platform got delayed for two months, and we used this time to develop new functions for the service in question.

Meanwhile, we have other projects that remained unaffected by the Coronavirus crisis. Such an example is a large pharmaceutical company, with which we work as a development extension of one their core technology teams. This isn’t surprising though, given that the Covid-19 pandemic probably creates more opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry than it does harm.

Actually, the pandemic did good to some of our projects too. One such an example is Dizzyjam – print and order on-demand merchandise for the music industry which we created more than 10 years ago. Its sales doubled over the months of lockdown.

An exemplary case

We’d also like to share the experience of a long-term client of ours - Newlyn School of Art. As its name suggests, this is an art school in the south west of England (Cornwall) that organizes a wide range of high quality and exciting short art courses in disciplines such as painting, drawing and printmaking. And of course, they were negatively affected by the pandemic – they had to postpone or cancel all the coursers scheduled during the lockdown in the UK. However, due to the many devoted clients, the school was able to reschedule the courses, instead of refunding the orders. Furthermore, they organized various initiatives to help them overcome the crisis, also engaging the tutors and clients in those events. For example, they initiated fundraising auctions of artworks to support both the school and artists at a time when most art exhibitions have been cancelled. In this way, they fundraised more than £50,000, and the proceeds were fairly split between the school and the artists. So, there are opportunities to be had even in the darkest of times, and the case with Newlyn School of Art appears like perfect crisis management to us.

Final words and some piece of advice

All companies who have survived the Covid-19 blow are now probably evaluating its impact and planning how to move forward in times of uncertainty. Generally speaking, businesses across the globe have been pushed to move the majority of their operations online, and to switch to remote work.

As a company operating 100% remotely for more than 12 years now, we can confirm that a remotely based team can be managed as efficiently as the one in the office. Yet, as many other businesses nowadays, we had to reprioritize our projects and reorganize our work force in order to be more efficient and handle the Covid-19 situation in the best possible way.

As a result of the pandemic, we have a surplus of experienced developers – employees who were supposed to work on projects that were postponed or cancelled. We use the spare time and resource that we have to develop our own products, as well as to increase our internal expertise by learning and experimenting with new technologies. This makes us more flexible to the changes in the business environment and more adapt to the technological requirements of our partners and clients.

That is to say, no economic sector is immune to COVID-19 and similar force-majeure situations. The important thing is being prepared for them, and taking the right decisions when the time comes. And if we are to come up with some sort of advice to web dev companies, that would be the following:

  1. Shift to remote work;
  2. Reprioritize your projects;
  3. Explore new opportunities;
  4. Continue to learn.