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How Vivo Team achieved European trade success during COVID-19


In the days before COVID-19 changed how, and where, people worked, Erin Berube knew the signs of a dysfunctional office: silence, sidelong glances, closed doors.

In the days since, with many homes now serving as offices, Berube discovered digital versions of such clues exist as well: unanswered emails, eye rolls during Zoom meetings, skipped conference calls. These cues could also be signs of an “office” in need of Vivo Team.

Berube, Vivo Team’s Vice-President of Operations, says the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company uses behavioural science and analytics to identify problem areas and provide solutions for costly dysfunction and disengagement at work.

“The fallout from disengagement can cost companies a lot of money”

Erin Berube, Vivo Team’s General Manager

“You can tell it’s bad if people shut down or gossip a lot and talk behind each other’s backs. If an environment like this is left unchecked, it can lead to higher levels of stress leave, turnover and instability”, says Berube.

CEO Renée Safrata pitching Vivo Team services

It may not always be that dramatic, but Berube says analytics help Vivo Team target problem areas. The company uses hard data to improve soft skills, which, in turn, creates dynamic results for its clients, the majority of whom have been in North America since the company started in 2012.

These analytics allow Vivo Team to see where soft skills need to be developed in the least disruptive way. Among 6 key indicators of highly functioning teams, Berube says communication and feedback is the most common area of breakdown.

Extensive data and the company’s broad knowledge of analytics allow Vivo Team to be effective across the board.

“We are not industry specific,” says Berube. “We focus on companies in high-growth sectors in multiple locations. We can operate as if we were face-to-face but are online without the expense of having to travel.”

With experience operating in the virtual space, a network of connections built with the help of Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service and an eye on new market possibilities arising from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, Vivo Team was able to weather the storm when COVID-19 started to sweep across the world.

“We’d been thinking about the EU more as a long-term growth strategy,” says Renée Safrata, Vivo Team’s CEO and founder. “But COVID-19 not only made ‘later’ now, it instantly made us exporters at a much more significant level in Europe, thanks to the connections we’d made with trade commissioners over the years.”

As a response to the pandemic, Vivo Team developed a program called Shine Online!, which Safrata says was designed to make virtual meetings and training more engaging.

The program was then pitched to Vivo Team’s European contacts at professional services giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). By March 2020, Vivo Team had signed contracts to train master facilitators and leaders in PwC’s learning and development divisions for Central and Eastern Europe and Switzerland. Discussions to do the same for PwC Germany are ongoing.

So what’s next for Vivo Team? With 30% of the company’s revenue this year coming from exporting, Safrata wants to use its recent success in Europe to make more connections, market at a higher level and ultimately do more work there.

“Exporting to Europe has been eye-opening,” says Safrata. “We’re a small company, so it was difficult to think that we could do business across the pond. But now we’re a global company; the little red Canadian engine that could!”

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