Human kind: life and business in 2020, the silver lining

2020-12-30 20:11:00 | Blog | Odette van Zijdveld | << We Share

Well we’ve reached the end of 2020. A significant year, to say the least. No doubt there have been challenges for many of us – for our clients and customers, shareholders and staff. And of course, our loved ones. But I’m someone who looks for the silver linings too. And I want to reflect on some of those as we look to the new year.

I’m not sure about you, but somehow this year seemed to pass quickly, while feeling long at the same time. As I write this, I have the feeling we’re still in October but here we are in December.

"I remember earlier this year when the Corona pandemic had hit Europe, I said I felt as though the earth was taking a sabbatical from consumerism."

And in a way, I think the world needed just that. This sort of intervention from the planet. It’s been a lesson in vulnerability for many people and companies alike – and that’s a blessing in disguise, if you ask me.

Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

"Many people and businesses asked ‘what is it that really matters?’ And as a result, I think many of us have become more human again, more kind. More human kind. In the way we see the world, in the way we define what matters."

The pandemic caused us to reach for something deeper. As people, as companies. For each other, and for the planet. And that’s the beauty of 2020 for me. And for Aliter.

Stay focused on your purpose

Along with reflection, this time of year typically brings with it a natural “planning-mode”. And while we set goals and prepare for 2021, as a business, this year we were reminded that while we can plan, things may not go as we expect them to. We will likely have to adapt.

Particularly in the Western world, we are bold – we have this feeling that we can control everything. But this year showed us that there are many ways to do business well. That we can work from home, save time, and find more balance in our private lives as a result. That we can save on Co2 emissions from travel.

It taught Aliter to stay focused on our purpose. Because I think for all businesses, going back to your essence, your purpose, means you can start with a blank slate and rebuild if you need to. To find better, more human ways of doing business.

For example, in the case of cafes and restaurants (who took a very hard hit this year) – for many, their fundamental purpose is about providing people with a good, hospitable experience. Drawing back to that leaves a lot of room for creativity in terms of how to do that – like cooking from home, or delivering in more sustainable, personal ways.

"The point being – we are and must stay agile in business, and remain open to change. Ambition is important, but we can be humble as we move into 2021. Look beyond budget and targets to what really matters."

Aliter and the pandemic

Luckily for Aliter I think we were already on this path of driving forward in alignment with our purpose. To make a difference with IT for people, planet and profit.

Some of the changes we navigated this year included the shift to working from home. One that so many experienced around the world. I was always in favour of this approach, because I think more work/life balance means staff brings less stress to their work. Of course it wasn’t easy. But we adapted by creating a schedule for when staff could work in the office, leveraged the benefits of succinct online meetings, and started daily catch-ups online with both the Singapore and Netherlands teams.

We also found that we were increasingly proud of serving hospital and healthcare clients with their network requests. Those who bore much of the Corona burden.

Nick Fewings on Unsplash


"But this year, conversations changed. Many more of you wanted to know how we help save the environment too, in terms of reducing e-waste and Co2 emissions."

So we adapted. We started engaging you more in these conversations. Now, every invoice or quote we send includes a tailored impact report. So you can see how much we save together, by choosing refurbished IT. As well as how we work with charities to offset the Co2 emissions from product logistics.

Purposeful people

Unsurprising to me, some stand out moments for us this year revolved around our people. Notably, we were lucky enough to have hired 8 new staff mainly in the latter part of this year.

And thinking back, when the pandemic first hit, the senior leadership team and I got together on a Monday to discuss how to move forward. And on Tuesday, we spoke with the entire team, asking what they’d do if this was their company (and in a way, it is).

I was incredibly moved to hear that everyone wanted to stay together. No matter what it took. What a gesture, what a team!

"I was reminded how much the Aliter team is a kind of family, who truly cares for each other, and has a love for the company."

I don’t think this mentality is even common at the best of times. Let alone when the going gets tough. So I’m very proud of the team.

That is what I have come to be grateful for during this difficult time. The humanity.

Leadership wins

I’m also proud to share that we crushed a number of our goals this year. And with a bit of luck, we may meet our ambitious 2020 goal for the year too.

So I wanted to take a moment to thank the Aliter leadership team. Who have each bought into the sustainable vision I have for Aliter. Into our bold positioning and goals.

Because the dream we have – for all companies to be using sustainable technology by 2025 – affects each of them as shareholders. But they have confidence in the company and in a sustainable future. And that is far more altruistic than business as usual.

Aliter in 2021

So you see, my outlook on 2021 is positive. Armed with learnings and gratitude brought about this year, we want to continue on this purposeful path. Developing the relationship we have with our customers, for people and the planet, as well as working towards some ambitious goals for making even more impact.

"Balancing that ambition, we’ll stay humble and remain agile."

Our planning is focused on five key areas: scalability, visibility, quality, sustainability and profitability. And I foresee a focus on scalability and sustainability in particular. With those two, come the other three.

As many of you know, we are making a difference with IT for people, planet and profit by extending the lifetime of IT infrastructure hardware. By changing the conversation from linear to Circular IT. We moved from just network infrastructure to also providing refurbished servers. And we added rent and maintenance to our services too. Extend that lifetime further.

You can expect all of this and more, next year, as we continue to advocate for a thriving circular and digital economy. But of course…let’s see where the year takes us.

For now, from myself and the Aliter team to all of you – take care and happy new year!

Odette




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