Beeline Georgia COO on COVID-19 and Looking Forward


The pandemic has had a significant impact not only on Georgian but also on the world economy, including the telecom sector.

“Telecom’s revenue has been growing at a rapid pace since the beginning of 2020, however, with the spread of COVID-19, growth rates in the first quarter not only slowed down, but also declined compared to the 2019 figures, a result of several factors,” Lasha Tabidze, COO (Chief Operating Officer) of VEON Georgia, tells GEORGIA TODAY. “First of all, the closure of international traffic among countries has led to the nullification of revenues received from both tourism and roaming services. In addition, the lockdown was followed by a decline in both local sales and activities and mobility, which was directly reflected in the consumption of mobile internet, in particular, users concentrated on using WI-FI.

“However, this sharp impact on business is short-term and medium-term for telecom, and we expect that the telecom business will start normalizing from the fourth quarter of this year.

“COVID-19, on the one hand, has had a sharp medium-term negative impact on income, but on the other hand, it has significantly increased the consumption of digital products and channels.

“The role of telecom in the digital world has become even more important, and we expect business growth in this direction in terms of both revenues and digital product users.”

What were the main challenges Beeline had to face and how did it respond to them?

COVID-19 has challenged each of us and the business sector. In the case of Beeline, several major challenges were identified: first and foremost, it was the safety of employees and customers, to which we responded quickly and efficiently. As soon as the coronavirus was detected in Georgia, we closed the shops in the airports, and later across Georgia. We offered all our products and services to customers through digital and other remote channels. In addition, it took us just a few days to get the whole company into a remote work mode, including the call center.

We can boldly say that it was not difficult for us to adapt to the new environment, as Beeline has been implementing the so-called Be Free approach, which involves working from a desired location and is an integral part of corporate culture. Another important challenge was to continue the technical works to improve the network, which was carried out unhindered as a result of the efforts of our technical team, in full compliance with security measures.

How did the company switch to a remote work regime, and did it affect labor productivity?

We are almost fully switched to remote operation, except for the special departments that ensure network operation and continuous operation of the service.

As we’ve mentioned, the Be Free approach in the company has been ongoing for a long time and therefore the productivity and efficiency of the work has been fully maintained.

How did consumers and employees adapt to the new environment and what has changed in this direction since the regulations were eased?

For many years, the development of digital products and channels has been an integral part and priority of Beeline's strategy. Accordingly, the majority of our customers had already been using our digital products (application, website, chat bot, online assistant, etc.) and in this regard, it was quite easy to adapt to the new reality.

All products and services are available online and we have successfully coped with the coronavirus-related challenges in this regard. After the restrictions were lifted, the stores opened with full compliance with safety measures, although most business operations are still in digital channels and we think we can offer even more products and services to customers in this direction.

What’s your view on the perspective of delivering services and working remotely? Will it rise in the future?

Regulations related to the pandemic have shown that it is possible for the vast majority of the company’s employees to work remotely, and this will have a positive impact on labor productivity. Today, the world lives in a completely different reality. Beeline responds quickly to challenges and adapts to the new environment. This is confirmed by the "work from anywhere" policy, which means that our employees have the opportunity to continue working from a place convenient for them, and if desired or, if necessary, come to the office in accordance with a schedule, in compliance with safety measures. Our goal is to give employees the freedom to choose a place to work, and if they choose to come to the office, we will obviously provide them a safe environment.

04 June 2020 19:30