How We’ve Been Doing During Lockdown
Small businesses around the world have had to deal with the harsh new realities of operating a company in a world in lockdown. Despite the immense amount of support from our community, we have had to be creative, make some tough decisions, and switch up our plan to something that is a bit outside of our comfort zone.
We are all about creating cultural and lingual connections – connecting families living abroad in the Netherlands with a babysitter that speaks their native language and understands their culture in order for kids to continue staying in touch with where they’re from. Although these connections are formed online, they play out in person, which is something that due to the lockdown wasn’t possible for a long time. Babysitting was highly discouraged in order to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus. For Näpp this meant that we had to switch to alternative methods to connect our community, which had deep impacts on how we see ourselves as a company, what our platform is capable of, and what the Näpp Community means. We thought we’d give you some insight into how we’re making sure Näpp can still be there for you in the future!
Our Mission Rings True
Thankfully, Näpp is designed to be a platform business. This means that inherently, we can make any type of connection online between two interdependent groups of individuals. For us, this has always meant matching international babysitters with expat parents of young children whose origins are rooted in the same culture and language. As babysitting began being highly discouraged by the RIVM in March, we initially felt like our entire reason to exist was gone. Although we’re an online business, the connections that we facilitate within our community are physical and play out in person. If our Näppsitters aren’t allowed to babysit anymore, how are we going to continue existing as a business and maintain the community we’ve created? Virtual babysitting? That’s not a thing! Thankfully, after a few moments of panic, we realized that our sole purpose isn’t solely based around babysitting. Our mission includes providing support happy, confident children. These kids know where they come from, but are also able to connect to the culture and language of the country they live in. Babysitting is one way to accomplish this, but there are more ways!
Thanks to the flexibility of our platform, we prototyped the “Virtual Playdate” in which we used our platform to virtually connect children stuck in quarantine with a new friend in the city, who was also from their home country. Later, thanks to the enormous enthusiasm from our Näppsitters, who we can safely call heroes at this point, we launched “Näpp Tutoring“, in which we used our platform to connect Näppsitters who are also willing to tutor in subjects like English, Maths, Science, Geography, and more with children who needed a bit of extra help with school while in quarantine.
It’s a bit outside of our comfort zone, and it’s all been a huge learning journey for us, but we’re glad to say that even in lockdown, we still found a way to form meaningful connections in our community, and we’ll continue to do so!
The Näpp Team in Quarantine
As you may know, we’re a team of four:
- Loviisa, the Founder
- Lodewijk, the Co-Founder
- Eline, the Brand Director
- Soyoung, the Market Development Specialist
If you follow Näpp on Instagram, you may know that when the lockdown was first announced, our team was dispersed all over the world. So even if the lockdown wouldn’t have happened, we would’ve still had to meet virtually and deal with different time zones! Loviisa and Lodewijk stayed at home base in Utrecht, but Eline was stuck in Michigan, USA for a few months while Soyoung flew back home to her family in Seoul. This means that for our virtual team meetings every Wednesday, Eline was up early at 7:30 am, while Soyoung spent her evenings with us from 20:00, often until midnight, and Lodewijk and Loviisa filled their entire afternoons.
Although we were all over the world, this actually worked out quite well for us. We learned the importance of meeting together at least once a week to stay on track, manage our To-Do’s and give each other support when times got a bit desperate. Just like everyone else, we worked from home, which thankfully was very manageable with an online business!
A few screenshots from our virtual meetings!
A Different World
The world is very different from what it was back in the beginning of the year, which now feels like centuries ago. We want to encourage you not to stop making connections, and to consider any virtual options available to you. Quite early on, we as a team decided that the term that was initially going around: “social distancing” is the wrong word. Self-isolation, quarantining, sheltering in place, locking down, however you want to call it, is a form of physical distancing, not social distancing. We believe it is now more important than ever to be socially connected, and we’re therefore trying our best to continue connecting our community and reach our goal of providing support to families whose children need extra help staying in touch with their home culture and language, as well as international students looking for a flexible part-time job while living abroad. We’ve shared many blog posts listing our favourite quarantine tips and activities, but we’ve also tried to steer away from the Coronavirus conversation a little bit, as we understand it’s driving everyone crazy. We’re going to continue trying to be a source of normalcy in this different world, and be there for you in any way we can!