Successful through the crisis – An interview with Peter Jankowski

Peter Jankowski / ARCTIC GmbH

During the Corona Pandemic many companies have been confronted with their biggest challenges of recent decades. At ARCTIC, we are determined to get through the crisis successfully. So far, we have been lucky: no short-term work, no redundancies. On the contrary, instead of complications, we have welcomed new colleagues, introduced new products, and renovated the marketing office.

We spoke with Peter Jankowski, who runs ARCTIC GmbH in Braunschweig, about ARCTIC’s path through the pandemic.

Corona has hit many companies and industries hard, initiating a wave of bankruptcies. How has ARCTIC gotten through the crisis so far?

We had very dramatic bottlenecks in Q2 and Q3 last year. Our planning and intensive collegial collaboration with colleagues in Hong Kong and China led us out of this challenge. Apart from that, we generally work with a fairly healthy stock. This may not always be the best economic decision, but we can sleep better with it.

Of course, we have also seen occasional increases in the last 12 months, which can be attributed to the pandemic. For example, we have been able to sell more monitor arms, these were needed when setting up home offices. However, I do not attribute our success to the corona crisis. Rather, I am convinced that we are growing healthily and sustainably.

Our goal was and is to keep Corona out of our company.

Telework is a must at ARCTIC during the lockdowns. Work flows differently at office and at the home desk. What effect does this have on teamwork?

We have already shown at the beginning of 2020, with the first measures in various locations, that we take the issue seriously, and our goal was and is to keep Corona out of our company. Even though we were ridiculed a bit at the beginning, it turns out that during the entire pandemic, we were able to work vigorously, co-operative and with great effort, on site and from employees’ home offices.

On the whole, things are going well with teleworking, and collaboration and communication within the teams is also successful. Here and there were certainly technical problems, but also noticeable improvements. I think we will also be expanding the teleworking possibilities after the crisis, but also work on the optimisation opportunities.

Not every area of ​​work can be relocated to the home workplace. Which employees are still working on-site, and what measures have you taken to make the work environment safe?

Of course, colleagues in the warehouse cannot work from home. But there are also some colleagues who for whom teleworking is impossible. This has predominantly technical reasons. I too am back and forth in the office.

In the meantime, very strict measures prevail in the building. These clearly go beyond the recommended guidelines. For example, we have been using KN95 masks for a very long time in all workplaces and have separated office spaces from each other by large plexiglass walls.

ARCTIC has also used the Corona era to expand and modernize its office space. Where does the courage come from to invest at this time?

I would not link this to the pandemic. The pandemic has only given us the opportunity to calmly redesign the office. This would certainly have been much more difficult to achieve during a time of “normal” operation. Even without a pandemic, we would sooner or later have had to rebuild to create new office capacities. In that regard, it’s not brave. Rather, it is necessary to set us up well for the future.

Due to the pandemic, ARCTIC has not only reorganized its work processes, but even adapted its product range. Many customers were surprised when ARCTIC started producing face masks in mid-2020. Where did this idea come from?

First, masks were offered and also sold at too high prices. When the pandemic broke out in Hong Kong, we organised masks for our colleagues and when there were shortages in Europe, we simply had masks produced ourselves, in order to be able to offer all customers and interested parties high-quality masks at a fair price. We don’t support making money out of somebody else’s misery.

Read more: Introducing ARCTIC Face Masks

We would like to further contribute to the management of the pandemic.

ARCTIC has donated thousands of face masks to Brunswick schools and charities. How did this action come about? And are further fundraisers planned?

My daughter’s school asked in a newsletter for parents to donate masks. This confused me at first, since the schools should already have gotten financial support and masks in December 2020. Unfortunately I was told, this was not the case. Since we donate to an institution every year for Christmas, it was close to donating masks. This action has attracted a lot of attention and in the meantime, we have donated hundreds of thousands of masks to various places. We are very happy to support this and would like to further contribute to the management of the pandemic.

More about ARCTIC’s donations in German press:
200.000 OP-Masken für Braunschweiger Schüler
Unternehmen spendet dem Wolfenbütteler Hospizverein Masken

An end to the pandemic is not foreseeable even today. How is it going for ARCTIC now?

I’m firmly convinced that we are in a very good position. We will also accept the recent demands for the test offensive and, once again, prove that we are there for our colleagues, customers and partners. At the moment I cannot say when we will all sit in the office again without plexiglass walls and masks and organise teambuilding events, but we have learned a lot about us, the local authorities and non-linear possibilities. I think we will be significantly strengthened and structured after the pandemic.

Read more: ARCTIC Mindset: Interview with CEO Magnus Huber