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Keeping an IT Team Focused in Challenging Times

War, pandemics, and other natural and man-made calamities are sweeping the world. Here's how one Ukrainian IT company faced the unthinkable and has managed to keep its team safe, focused, and productive.

Ihor Prokopenko, co-founder and CEO of IT design and development firm Fulcrum Rocks, knows a thing or two about keeping team members focused during a crisis.

On Feb. 24, 2022. the Kyiv, Ukraine-based firm, suddenly found itself in the middle of a war zone. "It was pretty hard to keep my team focused during such challenging times," Prokopenko admits. "Still, we managed to do so, and returned to normal work just four days after Russia attacked Ukraine."

Setting priorities

As the Russian forces advanced, thoughts about work, productivity, shopping, holidays, and other everyday matters began fading away. "Our approach was to provide maximum safety to the team and their families," Prokopenko says.

Anticipating the worst, Fulcrum Rocks was able to relocate more than 70 percent of its team members to safe places both inside and outside Ukraine. "We managed to react so quickly because we had prepared the crisis plan in advance -- we estimated all the risks," Prokopenko says. "Being prepared and able to estimate possible risks is essential for any company and team leader to succeed during hard times."

Fulcrum Rocks moved quickly to help team members escape hot zones with their families. "It was very difficult to find shelter for so many people at the same time," Prokopenko admits. The company focused on creating a handful of different hubs, both inside and outside Ukraine. "We also arranged a gathering spot in Portugal for some of our employees who relocated abroad," he says. "We wanted to help as many people as possible -- our HR searched for solutions to accommodate everyone."

As the situation gradually stabilized, Fulcrum Rocks worked to establish regular communication both within its teams, and across the entire enterprise. Prokopenko says that his goal has been to help his staff stay focused by removing distractions and providing strong motivation. "During general meetings, we informed everyone about our plans, next actions, and current situation," he says. "It helped us to keep everyone focused and motivated on their projects." Team leads, meanwhile, began holding daily meetings with their members to discuss project progress, challenges, and successes.

Continue reading this article on InformationWeek.

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