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It may be less efficient in 2021. Make room for new ideas

January 28, 2021

We asked Managing Partner Ronald van Rijn and Manager of Business Operations Iemke Imhof about the temporary and lasting changes caused by the corona pandemic.


How are you doing personally and professionally?


"It's a special time because we have to be resilient as people and as a company. Our customers are generally doing reasonably well. They are now taking the time to get ready for the period ahead. The number of bankruptcies has never been so low. This is of course due to the support from the government. But it is the calm before the storm, the future is uncertain," explains Iemke.

"I am also concerned about the impact of corona, the seriously ill and those who have died. We are experiencing the grief up close," she adds.


Ronald says: "I'm a positive person by nature. The curfew and the other measures will continue for some time yet. Perhaps until all elderly and vulnerable people have been vaccinated. In these times you can also count your blessings. We have to learn to live with these times.

In the Netherlands, many things are well organised. Mobility changes and the degree of flexibility determines the success of your business. These are permanent changes."

Ronald continues: "Virologists are warning of multiple pandemics in the next ten years. We have to learn to deal with them. As an employer we look out for the welfare of our people. Health is more important than productivity. We like to work. JBR works with multifunctional teams. They consult regularly and share their knowledge. Creativity comes from sparring together."


"Our people come to the office for the creativity and fun with colleagues. I do miss the hustle and bustle at the office. Concentrated work and online meetings can be done perfectly from home. That has become commonplace. In general, you could say that the work/life balance has improved. By travelling less and working more from home. But it's important to make sure there's no inhibition on continuing to work, relax and exercise," says Iemke.


Does nostalgia for the 'old days' clash with renewal?


Ronald says: "I like to make the comparison with post-war reconstruction. It was a time of austerity and rolling up your sleeves and getting to work. According to our parents, it was a special time. The country is being rebuilt with the support of the government.

Restructuring and strategic thinking is in the genes of JBR. We're putting our hands up. Or rather, we are now putting our brains out of our sleeves!

Learning to live with the times gives peace of mind. We must assume that this reconstruction will take up to five years.

We had a good business year. We had not expected that. The orders are going well. Making appointments is now much faster. An online meeting with a large number of people is easy to do. It is actually quite fun. You see them on one screen in their own environment. You don't have travel time or traffic jam stress and usually you're done in an hour."


Will we be travelling less structurally or is it a temporary restriction?


Ronald explains: "Flying has become a commodity. You could ask yourself whether it's good for people to move around so quickly. It's polluting and perhaps even old-fashioned. Checking in at Schiphol Airport and flying nine hours for a two-hour meeting. You come home tired and jetlagged.

It is now easier for us to make international agreements. You get to 'round the table' with customers online more quickly. The path from lead to order is much faster now."


This time has its advantages?


Iemke says: "We're saving quite a bit now. That happens by itself. The building is used less, there are no dinners, cheaper PR/marketing events or international fairs, less travel and accommodation costs and virtually no air travel.

Speaking of frugality; in March 2020 we were still expecting a 70% decline, fortunately that did not happen. We ended 2020 with an unexpectedly good result."


What's your advice?


Ronald concludes: "It is tempting these days to work even harder behind your computer screen. In order to adapt to these times and initiate change, we sometimes need to consciously work less task-oriented and productive. If you keep bumping along, you work from your experience, the things you have already done once. You need space and rest in order to innovate. Especially in these times it is important to consciously stand still and observe. I miss the "emptiness" of the moments that come with travelling. Your brain needs this space to generate ideas that lead to real innovation. With less efficiency, new ideas are generated in this void, also for our clients. Finding a healthy balance between working efficiently and consciously standing still is my advice for 2021."