Beeline Georgia CEO on the Communications Sector in the Covid & Post-Covid World

Beeline is well-known for its exemplary corporate culture. It cares about its employees a lot, so they can focus on serving customers. We asked Andrzej Malinowski, CEO of Veon Georgia (Beeline), to tell us more.

“Our employees, or, as I prefer to call them, teammates, are our key asset. No business, no matter how technologically advanced, can grow without skillful, motivated people keen to deliver the best possible performance, based on care, respect and trust: those three components play a key role in shaping the way we work,” Malinowski tells us. “This includes quite a few important elements: our offices, the way they’re equipped and the interior design; the bonus package we offer, which includes advanced tools for self-development, flexible working hours, etc.”

“Equally important is the way we treat each other: showing integrity and support, putting the person and not the job title first. It serves a purpose: we are happy to have a motivated, loyal, developing team of professionals trying their absolute best every day. Moreover, and this personally for me is a key value of fostering culture based on true care, there are no communication barriers in any respect: people communicate openly and honestly, knowing honest views are welcome.”

Beeline is one of those companies that decided to keep remote work as a new practice, introducing a "work from anywhere" policy. How does it work in practice?

It’s quite simple: we trust our people, no matter where they are. When working from the office, we don’t need to check the progress of our teammates every hour or every day: the end result speaks for itself, and that’s what matters, not the time spent in the office. This trust-based mindset was a foundation of our decision to extend our program of flexible working, established years ago, to the full scale “work from anywhere” scheme we introduced during pandemic to protect our people. The principle is the same: what matters is the result of a respective project delivered in a timely and quality manner. Teams and individual contributors are free to choose whether they work from home, from the beach or from the office, which is equipped to ensure safety and meet all applicable requirements. All the means of communication are available: video conferencing is nothing new, and as management of the company we do not see any particular reasons why working from anywhere might be an issue. On the contrary, this way was easily adopted and we see the system working really well. Personally, I’m really happy to see my teammates enjoying a proper work-life balance, managing their time effectively and working in a very effective manner.

Businesses worldwide are experiencing an unprecedented crisis. What are Beeline’s anti-crisis plans and activities?

Connectivity is a business relatively unharmed by the novel coronavirus, as people need to stay connected even more during turbulent times. We are here to ensure all the systems work their best. The very nature of our business assumes permanent readiness to deal with various kinds of crisis, so in our case it was more of an adjustment of the existing policies and procedures to the crisis triggered by the virus.

To preserve the corporate culture at such times, internal communication is especially important. What communication channels does Beeline use to keep employees involved and motivated?

Thankfully, internal communication is our strength, and my esteemed colleague Khatia Giorgobiani, Head of Internal Communications, is a true wizard. She managed to transfer the offline experiences we had while working from the office, seeing each other every day, to the online world! We use an internal platform, Workplace by Facebook, heavily to bring people together, so they can chat, interact, have the sense of belonging to the group. It was a great challenge, but I’m extremely pleased to see how our management team succeeded in overcoming it. It goes without saying, we do think about bringing as many of our people together, so we can see each other in person, because we really miss actual interaction, conversation, laughter, normal things the pandemic partly took away from us. Once it is safe, we will definitely make it happen. If a culture of respect, trust and openness is fostered in a business, there is no need to implement any special measures: people find ways to stay in touch and support each other during this uneasy time.

How do you see the role of a leader in the times of the pandemic? What should a company CEO’s main task be in these challenging times?

The role of the leaders is always the same, pandemic or not. We are expected to take care of our business. To do that in the best way possible, the priorities are simple: ensure our people are safe, so they don’t have to worry about anything else but how to provide the best possible service to our customers. In our case, it was equally important to make sure our teammates from closed retail outlets were taken care of: they knew from day one that their employment would continue, how their bonus system would be adjusted to the situation of closed stores. Everything was clarified from the very beginning. I personally addressed our retail colleagues in an online Town Hall to encourage them to utilize time at home to improve their skills using our learning platform.

The next area of focus is to adjust our products to the most immediate needs of our customers or, as we did at the early stage of coronavirus spread with our customers stuck abroad, to offer free services, so they can contact their loved ones back home. Lastly, but not even a bit least importantly: give back to the community.

How do you see the post-COVID world? Do you see companies turning even more to digital, and where does Beeline find itself in relation to this?

From our business perspective, COVID-19 further facilitated the adoption of our mobile application. This is in fact our store at our subscribers’ fingertips, the number one application in Georgia in terms of the number of downloads on Android smartphones. Our customers started to use it much more frequently for top-ups and activation of products and this is definitely something we are proud of. Our Digital and Innovations team did a tremendous job improving the application, making it more user friendly, more intuitive.

In what some people call the “post-COVID” world, the role of these kinds of service will be boosted: there is no need to leave home, or interact with anyone, to solve any problem, but interact with business via an application. Our ambition is to spearhead the shift to digital products; quite soon, we will launch some of our new partnerships, which we hope will engage our customers even more.

The post-COVID world will not be based on a total redefinition of human-to-human interaction, and replacing it with digital functionalities: it’s just not possible, and it would be really bad. I very much hope the pandemic will be overcome and that many of the key social aspects of our lives will come back to pre-COVID normal, though many changes forced by the pandemic will stay. I wouldn’t be surprised if office work, the way we know it from the past, never comes back. This is probably the most visible change I’m expecting. What is most important though, is to see this actual “post-COVID” world happening, with the current threat completely gone, with Old Tbilisi full of tourists, reopened borders, a booming hospitality industry, and businesses regaining their respective markets.

Photo source: Entrepreneur Georgia


24 September 2020 17:10