How the War in Ukraine Affected Digital Business Processes How do Ukrainians continue to manage online business processes on the go while seeking refuge abroad? How does it feel to lead a team with employees from countries in war? Here is my first-hand experience.
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The war in Ukraine has obviously affected many business processes, financial markets, employee management and service outsourcing. However, all this sounds like lifeless statistics until we hear the first-hand experience.
In this article, I am sharing a few insights on how the war in Ukraine affected digital business from my own experience as a refugee and head of a marketing management team with employees from around the world, including Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
Leaving the fear behind
The start of the war in Ukraine shocked everyone — people who were staying in the country, as well as those who were stuck abroad, learning that they might never see their families or come back home again, which is what happened to me. Many lost everything: their property, finances and even loved ones. But humans are amazingly adaptive creatures. It's sad to say this, but we were already used to the war and instability in almost every aspect of our lives. Just like any other huge stress, it forced us to rethink life values, relationships and goals.
I know people who invested their entire capital in the property in Kyiv, which is now fully destroyed. Some of my friends were betrayed and robbed by their own families, business partners and colleagues in the war times. My friend, a woman with two kids, was trying to find a shelter in the Ukrainian Carpathians and was robbed and kicked out of the village by locals driven by hate toward the wealthier people fleeing from Kyiv.
The war has revealed its awful face, allowing us to see the truth we would never learn in different conditions — which is good and heartbreaking at the same time. It also taught us to be more flexible and strong enough to start rebuilding life even amidst the sea of madness.
Related: I Run Two Businesses in Ukraine. Here's How We're Resilient Enough to Continue Operating During War
Teamwork on-the-go, while fleeing to other countries
Worried about what to do next with my own life, I've been also feeling responsible for the safety and emotional state of my team members from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus — all working side by side. My main goal at that moment was to maintain a healthy atmosphere amongst my team, sustainable workflow and all marketing processes through all these challenges, often managing everything on the go and being stressed daily by news from Ukraine.
I've been very concerned about how our employees from the three confronting countries feel while working together on the same project. They were shocked and afraid. None were supporting this war. Everyone was trying to support each other, regardless of the nation in which they were born or the passport they hold. Some of our employees were working online on-the-go just like me while fleeing to other countries. Some of them (with people from Russia among them!) were coming back to work just a few hours after Russian combat missiles exploited over roofs of their homes in Kyiv.
Disruption of outsourced services
Ukraine is a key global delivery location for IT and software engineering services, so the war creates widespread uncertainty and significant concerns for companies with service operations in the region. At some point, we stopped receiving updates and emails from our partner companies and outsource service providers based in Ukraine, too. The reason was obvious. Weeks after, some of them contacted us with apologies, saying they weren't available for work due to having to relocate entire teams abroad. Many processes were disrupted, and it really took time to learn to continue working during the war.
Related: Why the Ukraine Crisis Should Make You Rethink How You Lead
Support for humanitarian aid
Many tech companies donated to civilians in Ukraine and also helped them with relocation, transportation and logistics.
"Now our goal is to break the chain of war and scatter its links far away from each other. So that they could never meet again. Our main fundraising tool is NFT. You can buy any of the artworks below or make a simple donation. Important! We don't raise money for weapons. We raise money for medicine, evacuation and repair needs, food, and clothes. Our priority is to help civilians." — Unchain, a charity project created by blockchain activists.
"No nation deserves to be a part of the heart-breaking circumstances we all are now witnessing in Ukraine. Nobody should stay alone and unprotected in this situation. This is why we made a decision to donate a significant amount of money to civilians in hopes it will be used for humanitarian purposes and protection of human lives," — commented Sergey Krasotin, co-founder of Humbleteam.
"I was born and raised in Kyiv, the capital of one of the biggest European countries. It's heartbreaking to see what is happening. Many Ukrainians might have to relocate to protect their lives. Among them are top blockchain developers, project managers, designers, scientists, young and ambitious people with families as well as elderly people." — commented Constantin Kogan, BullPerks and GamesPad co-founder.
Related: What I've Learned From Running a Ukrainian Startup During Wartime
Massive hires of Ukrainians
As a manager looking for new employees for an international online team, I was thinking that hiring Ukrainians was a two-sided coin in the current situation. In conditions of high stress caused by the war, it might be challenging for them to focus on work. On the other hand, an online job could be the only means of survival for those who stayed in Ukraine — the country with a fully destroyed economy and unclear future — as well as for those who were seeking refuge in other countries.
However, I faced the opposite of what was expected. I am now observing many Ukrainians working hard online like cyborgs, trying to rebuild their lives and putting all their efforts into the company's success at the same time.
So, whether to support hiring from Ukraine or not in the current situation, is a choice. But as a Ukrainian who is still working on-the-go and managing marketing for two brands, I think you might guess what would be my hiring decision.