The Meaning of Dugnad During Hard Times

Kelsey Louise Ozuna
07.04.20 17:28

“Dugnad” is one of those words that’s just so damn hard to translate. There just isn’t a word for it in English. The closest I could think of myself is the concept of “we’re all in this together”. The closest I could find on Google was the amish concept of barn raising. 

Usually, in times where there isn’t an ongoing global crisis, dugnad means gathering neighbors in an apartment building and taking part in the spring cleaning of communal areas. It’s something that provokes eye-rolling and a sense of relief when you have a good excuse to get out of it. 

Nowadays, the definition has changed to include staying home and indoors to contain the spread of an invisible enemy. It’s a collective responsibility to do our part.

However way you want to spin it, it all comes down to this:

A sense of communal duty for a greater purpose.

And dugnad is the truest core value when it comes to describing what both Norway and CompEdge are made of.

Since this whole crisis hit, we, like so many other companies across the planet, have been forced to #keepcalmandcarryon from our makeshift home offices. Daily we have connected over video chat where we are plagued with, “Can you hear me now? How about now?” and lag that freezes people’s faces as they talk.

In these meetings, we laugh, discuss serious matters, and continue our CompEdge tradition of clapping for one another when there’s good news. There’s a lot of togetherness even though we are all miles apart.

So when it came to making a difficult decision, it was a no brainer that it would be one that was made as a team. To keep healthy cash flow for the next few months and to avoid layoffs, we each agreed to take a temporary collective 20% pay cut. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, nor was it an easy one for Adrian to ask of us. But it’s something that speaks true to something he has reminded of us every single day: No one person on our team is stronger than the team as a whole. And now as a team, we each have skin in the game to keep the ball rolling in a time of crisis.

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Just as we asked our grandparents what it was like to live through the second world war, our grandchildren are going to one day ask us what this crisis was like. Are we going to tell stories of fear and tales of the way society shut down overnight? Or are we going to talk about how we all fought to keep things on track?

It would’ve been too easy to throw in the towel and call it a day these past few weeks. In a fight or flight response, we could’ve chosen flight, but we didn’t. We fight not just for ourselves but for our peers as well. If we are to keep the trading of goods and services going, then everyone needs to be involved. 

And it’s become apparent that we aren’t alone in that thought. Every day during these corona times, we receive feedback from followers and existing and new customers alike, that they are ready to stand by our side and do their part. There’s been so much light in the darkness as our sense of community has been strengthened and new business has been made.

If there’s something that this whole experience has taught me, it’s that there’s another meaning to the word dugnad. You know, other than “togetherness”. It’s remaining optimistic when the countercurrent threatens to pull us under. It’s the grit behind the effort of hard work.

 It’s making tough decisions now while we strive towards a brighter tomorrow.

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