Coping with the unforeseen challenges and restrictions caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic has taken its toll on many of us and has changed the world we live in.
During the month of March, restrictive measures were put in place to protect our health and attempt to control the spread of the virus. People were asked to “stay home” and the world stood still.
The effect of these restrictions triggered a raft of issues for our people and the economy, ranging from a significant increase in mental health issues to a plunge in oil price.
In this article, Add Energy’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Ole Rygg provides his insights into how this year has changed the way he does business and the skills that he’s learned along the way.
How would you sum up the past 12 months in business?
“The last 12 months have been challenging for all businesses across the world, regardless of the sector. In today’s ever-evolving landscape, it is important that you are both present and optimistic when speaking to your staff.
“Mental health and wellbeing have been a growing concern throughout the year, and it’s important that you are aware of the bigger picture. In addition to the physical fear of contracting and spreading the virus, a lot of people are worried about the economic impact that it has had.
“Across the world projects have been put on hold or cancelled, businesses have closed and mass redundancies have been made. It’s no surprise that people are anxious, but we need to minimise the impact as much as possible. We must continue to address these concerns, discuss solutions, and evoke hope when planning for the future.”
How would you describe the past year in one sentence?
“To survive business in 2020 you must follow the three As - assess, adapt, and acknowledge.
"We all know the famous saying that if you fail to plan you plan to fail, but what happens if the goalposts are moving on a daily basis?
"Throughout the year there have been a lot of unknowns - we are all making decisions quickly and sometimes without knowing the full picture. Therefore in order to succeed, we must assess situations regularly, adapt quickly, and acknowledge that we are making the best of a tricky situation. We must be driven by a purpose, not a plan. The day-to-day plans may have to change depending on the situation, but our goal will remain the same. As a service provider, our purpose is to deliver a high-quality service that meets our customers’ needs.
“By keeping this at the forefront of our mind, we were able to not only survive 2020, but achieve our highest level of productivity to date.”
What positives can you take away from 2020?
“I have to admit, that although it has not been without its challenges, the year 2020 has been less painful than expected, and in some respects you could argue that it’s been quite successful for Add Energy.
“Having a great understanding of both our clients and their needs, the team was able to adapt quickly, at all levels across the company. We were able to change our operating model so quickly that our clients joked that they couldn’t keep up.
“We’ve been prepared for operating globally for decades and have used digital platforms long before it was deemed a necessity, therefore when travel halted and people around the world took refuge within their own homes, we were able to hit the ground running.”
What do you believe was the key to your success throughout 2020?
“It may sound cliché, but teamwork really has been the key to our success. There has been a real sense of comradery throughout the company - we may not physically be able to see each other but Covid-19 has definitely brought us together.
“Now more than ever we have people working together. Integrated in our approach, team members are working across departments, skill sets and regions.
“We have been flexible as a business, not just in the hours that we work but also in the way that we do things. Our efficient way of working has meant that we’ve been able to increase margins, reduce costs and stay profitable throughout the year. This has created a buffer for the company, meaning that we are less affected by any projects that have been paused.”
What have been your personal highlights from the year?
“In respect to the business, my personal highlight would be the leadership team and seeing how a group of individuals from across the globe have been able to work together to create a stable and positive environment for staff to work in.
“From a personal perspective, the real highlight is having the ability to spend more time at home with my family. Prior to the restrictions being put in place, I found myself on a plane every week, travelling the globe, so it has been really great to have the opportunity to slow down and be home.”
What were your biggest lessons learned?
“The biggest lesson learned would have to be that business can be conducted from anywhere, even from the spare room in your house. In the past, we would regularly travel for business, sit in back-to-back meetings and have packed schedules. For some, the balance was off, and too much focus was on looking busy.
“Having the restrictions enforced upon us has been a blessing in some ways. We were able to take a step back and reassess the way in which we conduct business. There’s no doubt that we will travel once again, but as the use of technology has become the new norm, the need for travel has massively decreased.
“Our new way of working has allowed us to streamline our approach, reassess what is important and keep our agendas short and sweet. As a result, we’re able to deliver a faster, more efficient service to our customers, saving both time and money.”
What opportunities do you think will emerge in 2021?
“I think that there will be a significant increase in opportunities in 2021, in comparison to the year that’s just passed. Projects that were once paused will go live again and new business opportunities will arise.
“For us, there will be a real focus on green energy. Over the years there has been a real drive towards environmentally-friendly energy, from hydrogen to solar power, and everything in between.
“Many forward thinking companies are transitioning over to carbon capture storage projects and will need support from service companies like Add Energy. At Add Energy we were recently selected by Transborders Energy to support the development of a CO2 capture and storage project in offshore Australia. I believe this partnership verifies our well engineering expertise and how it can be applied in a different, and much greener context.”
What do you think will be key to your team’s success?
“Our team is at the heart of the business. Like this year, I think that the key to our success is our people. The bonds developed during Covid-19 have changed the way that we work, and the teams are closer now more than ever.
“Having worked so closely together, staff are aware of their own individual strengths as well as those within their teams, which has resulted in a stronger workforce.
“Throughout this year I have seen our global divisions come together as one team more than ever, and the collaboration across expertise has been and will remain key to our success.”
What are you most looking forward to in business next year?
“This year has been one of the most challenging in my business career, yet the team has thrived, grown and achieved better financial results than ever. The changes put in place this year are building blocks that have strengthened our business and will help our team grow.
“I can’t wait to see how the business, and the team, continues to develop and diversify as it moves into new markets.”