All Santos kitchen showrooms continue working from home while keeping an eye on the future
30 / 04 / 2020
On 14 March, a state of emergency aimed at containing and mitigating the effects of the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic was declared across Spanish territory. This meant—among other restrictive measures—limiting the movement of people and the closure of commercial establishments. Thus began an indefinite lockdown period in which many businesses, despite being unable to open to the general public, continued providing their services by working from home, as is the case with all the Santos kitchen showrooms. As an example, five studios from different parts of the country share their experiences with us to help us understand how they are dealing with such an unprecedented situation: Clysa (Barcelona), Docrys & DC (Madrid), Misura Studio (Alicante), Santos Brezo (Madrid and Guadalajara) and Zona de Día (Santa Cruz de Tenerife).
Getting organised to deal with exceptional circumstances
After the impact of the declaration of a state of emergency—making the opening of establishments or the ordinary course of business impossible—, the Santos kitchen showrooms immediately got started on establishing procedures, systems and channels that would enable them to continue providing their services remotely.
Docrys & DC acknowledge that, after a few moments of initial confusion, within a few hours, they were all at home getting organised and doing everything they could. ‘We weren’t very clear about what would happen, but when you’ve got a great team, there’s nothing you can’t achieve. We maintained the same protocols; the only difference is that everything is done online.’
The Misura Studio team also work from home, remotely connecting to the studio’s server and computer equipment. ‘Every one of us continues to perform their functions, while staying in constant contact with customers and suppliers alike.’ All of this is done with a work routine and a set schedule in place, to stay professionally active at all times.
There’s no doubt that new technologies are playing a crucial role at the moment, as Clysa remind us, ‘Thanks to them, the team are able to stay in contact and work from home. What’s more, with the showroom closed, all our sales efforts are focused on social media’.
Santos Brezo explain that their project management system with online support allows them to continue working as per usual, handling all the arrangements related to their customers’ projects. They also highlight ‘the good system of communication among the different work groups, making a seamless flow of information possible’.
Rosario Martín, manager, administrator and interior designer at Zona de Día, confesses that the situation has hardly made a difference for her, as she usually works from home anyway. ‘During the first week of the state of emergency, I was at the showroom, doing support work for presentations, while my colleagues were at home. Then, we all worked from home. And for the last few days, a colleague has been working at the showroom because she could no longer stand being under lockdown.’
Direct and constant contact with customers
The studios do their best to convey a sense of calm to their customers. They remain active and always at their service, even during this extraordinary and temporary situation, where a return to normal is just a matter of time. Customers, on their part, have reacted to the closure of showrooms with understanding, support, appreciation and confidence. ‘We’ve secured projects without even knowing when we could go to their houses to take measurements to order the kitchens’, Docrys & DC said. For Misura Studio, ‘It’s important to show them that you’re still there, despite the distance. Customers are understanding if you show them that you’re doing your best.’
The showrooms stay in constant contact with their customers, using all available means and tools: phone, email, videoconferencing, messaging services, social media, etc. In fact, Santos Brezo noticed that ‘given the circumstances, contact with our customers has grown even closer, with all of us adapting to the telework system.’
In this regard, Clysa emphasises how videoconferencing was well received by customers, as it offered a break from the monotony of lockdown and made them feel better. ‘Furthermore, they were able to devote more attention to their projects and have something to look forward to these days.’ Misura Studio also noticed the same thing, ‘Despite lockdown, customers look forward to their kitchen renovation. For example, one of our customers is a hospital director and she told us that every time we sent her an update of her project, she was able to take a break from the critical situation she was constantly facing, turning into a bright spot in her day’.
One of the aspects that has changed the most is the project presentation, which is now done remotely. To this end, as Zona de Día state, communication is all the more important. ‘We try to create much more detailed presentations, so that customers have even more information on what we offer. Now, more than ever, we have to delight customers. It’s a new way of working that, despite its drawbacks, is getting a positive response.’ They also point out that ‘lockdown has made it possible to devote more time to projects, both for us and customers. Now they answer all the questions we ask them, which are absolutely essential to create an initial proposal and send it to them by email. This is because they now have the time and focus to do so, and it’s so much easier to get it right from the get-go based on what they have in mind.’
The same work, new motivations
The phrase by Zona de Día handily sums up the current situation at Santos kitchen showrooms, ‘We’ve closed our doors, but we haven’t ceased our activities. We haven’t stopped working since 16 March’. Videoconferencing to organise and plan the work, reception and development of projects, customer service, sales follow-up, logistics coordination, administration, communication, implementation of management systems, training… As Docrys & DC state, ‘We maintain the same spirit and philosophy; the only thing that has changed is the workplace’.
The five studios agree that the hardest aspects to deal with under lockdown are: understandable concerns as a result of the global health emergency, with the risks and uncertainties involved, and the difficulty in moving forward with the development and implementation of projects. But, most of all, they bemoan the impossibility of physically sharing space and working hours with other people.
It is precisely when the greatest obstacles—the toughest times—arise that the presence of a source of support to motivate and push us forward becomes even more important. Clysa draws such strength from ‘continuing to create projects, staying in contact with our customers, and seeing their enthusiasm for the proposals we put forward’. This is a way of thinking shared by Docrys & DC. ‘Despite this uncertain situation, we continue to secure projects and we see how customers keep on trusting in us.’ Misura Studio are of the same mind. ‘We try to focus on how to make our customers happy with the work we do, and this is what mainly drives us to continue improving and motivates us.’ Santos Brezo place particular emphasis on the strength of the team, ‘Despite physical distance, we stay in contact and continue working as a team. We know that this situation is temporary, and we hope to resume in-person contact—which is what we love the most—soon’. Zona de Día have chosen to turn the situation into a great challenge. ‘By seeing it as such, we are using everything we have at our disposal to adapt. It’s the challenge of survival, of adapting to the new circumstances. We are making the most of this to follow trends, improve and create better and better interior design projects.’
Reopening as soon as possible and safely
The showrooms share a desire to reopen their doors to the general public as soon as possible and are crafting plans and actions for the post-lockdown period. However, there is still a hard road ahead, and they are aware that they will have to adopt changes and measures that are here to stay.
Clysa take it as a given that ‘visits to the showrooms will be staggered, so we will get everything ready according to the recommendations and regulations to make visitors feel safe and comfortable’.
Before the declaration of a state of emergency, Santos Brezo had already introduced measures to minimise risks for workers and visitors alike. ‘These measures will become routine and more will be added. In addition to physical facilities, such as partitions or disinfection systems, procedures are being implemented in all internal processes. All our processes will be absolutely controlled to ensure safety.’
Docrys & DC call for calm and responsibility. ‘We have to do everything step by step. We have already begun to take steps to save time so that everything is ready for the reopening. Meetings with customers will be held by appointment, we will have face masks available for visitors and workers, we will install hand sanitising gel dispensers at the entrances to our studios, and we will place acrylic screens in all work areas and presentation rooms.’
Zona de Día’s plan is to ‘work with the necessary safety measures to help stop this pandemic. If we’ve gotten used to lockdown and remain hopeful, the same goes for the ‘new normal’. Customers will not have to come to the showroom with every change made, as we can now have virtual meetings. It’s true that it takes effort, but we’re getting it done. Our main goal is to be able to adapt and respond in a professional manner’.
For Misura Studio, the keys are patience and perseverance. ‘We hope to gradually return to our typical work routine. We have to be more creative than ever, getting as much as possible done during this time so that, when this is over, the projects will be very far along. It will be a slow and difficult process, and we will follow the recommendations given by the relevant authorities to ensure the wellbeing of both our customers and our own.’
Reflections to face the future with optimism
As difficult as it may seem, positive lessons can also be drawn from such a dramatic situation: from the need to think about the present with an eye to the future, as Docrys & DC say, to the importance of paying more attention to details, as Zona de Día assert, or the discovery of new work procedures that help in improving services, as in the case of Santos Brezo.
The Misura Studio team confess that this abrupt change has helped them to become aware that ‘we live in such a fast-paced world that we don’t have time to appreciate what we have, both professionally and personally. This situation has made us more aware of all the good things around us, of what’s really important. We have to see things in a positive light, enjoy the little things in life, and try to make the most of every moment with family, friends and work colleagues’.
Clysa believe that this situation has allowed people to get to know themselves better, something that will very likely result in an evolution of homes. ‘We live in a country where the climate and the environment are very conducive to spending a lot of time outdoors. But now it’s time to stay indoors, looking inwards, getting to know ourselves and the spaces we live in—which many simply passed through and paid little attention to. We firmly believe that many people will transform and improve their homes thanks to these reflections.’
Without a doubt, we are living in troubled times, but it’s clear that all Santos kitchen studios have accepted the challenge and are doing everything they can to not only gracefully adapt but also come out stronger than ever.
We at Santos would like to thank Raquel García and Aurelio García (Clysa), Rafael Fernández and Jose Doval (Docrys & DC), Esther Carmona and Ramón Arévalo (Santos Brezo), Ana Adela Tomás, José Lombardo Morales, Judit Aznar and Maribel Carrión Amorós (Misura Studio), and Rosario Martín Pérez (Zona de Día) for their participation in this article.
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