April 07, 2023

CyberCare Office in Ukraine: War Lingering in Daily Life

by Oleksandra Tsymbaliuk

Team Lead

Certainty lies at the heart of any live customer support service. From the smoothness of cooperation between support agents, to the stability of network infrastructure at the office — the sudden absence of any one element may cost the satisfaction of hundreds of customers. For this reason, support enterprises have to consider the potential challenges of expanding their operations abroad, be it cultural differences — or the impact of war.

For almost a year now, a Lithuanian-based customer support service, CyberCare, has been carefully fostering the growth of its office in Lviv, Ukraine. At the moment, the Lviv department has 14 employees. Their latest milestone is the hire of new Ukrainian team lead, Oleksandra Tsymbaliuk, who supervises a team of 14 support agents.

Knocking on wood means the same thing

While speaking, Oleksandra knocks on the table three times and looks at the others sitting at the table with questioning eyes — did we understand what she had just done? We laugh together that we still have to look for a wooden surface so that the superstitions take hold. 

“Everyone, at some point, was kind of worried about how we would work together — Lithuanians and Ukrainians — since we’re different people, from different countries. But I genuinely believe that we don’t really have that many cultural differences since our countries have similar historical backgrounds, we are also very similar in our goals and outlook on the world. And this similarity will expand. New generations are  born into a world with more open borders”, Oleksandra shares her insights on cultural differences. “I’ve been working in CyberCare for six months and I’ve never ever had a misunderstanding with my colleagues from Lithuania. And if there is a misunderstanding about humor or some saying, you can always just ask what I don’t understand.” 

Can you get used to war?

Across social media platforms, people who became oversaturated with the topic of war have been putting into question whether there’s anything else for Ukranians to discuss. Oleksandra says that the war changed people and their thinking. 

“It’s sad to understand that we have been living in this war for the last year already. Or rather, for eight years. But as people living in the western part of Ukraine, we really can’t complain. There are occasional air raid alerts, but they don’t happen  very often. Despite us getting back to our normal life, things have changed. The situation taught us not to complain too much about stuff.” 

Maybe it’s because we learned to live with it. Nothing really became less important. As long as we have everyone around us safe, we’re good.

It’s harsh that we identify ourselves as a nation through such drastic measures. During the war, the national identity and the vision of where the state is going are strengthened. I feel like it’s our way of learning.” 

Lesson learned — live life now

Oleksandra’s generation has had their values reshaped by both the pandemic and the war. She comments that these events have changed people’s personalities to a certain extent.

“I think at some point these situations really shaped our people as well. All of what has been happening has made us grow up faster than our peers around the world. But I’m not complaining really and I guess  we have really changed throughout this year because our priorities changed. For example, I was always the type of person who planned out everything. And this year I’m just doing what happens because I’m not guaranteed about tomorrow. And this is the biggest change for me.” 

Knowing that your friends are in a war zone, you can no longer complain about life. Oleksandra appreciates every day and things that used to seem less important.  

“At some point I just started valuing all those little things. I used to often find myself in  bad times— times when you just want to be alone. Those times came back when the war started. It was a very depressive time for everyone. And I have some friends on the front lines fighting, and happily asking how I’m doing, while explosions come from their side. They stay positive, they have this will to live, so how come I cannot have it? I have to have it. I have to live for them as well as they live for me. So I guess this is what changed you really, you start valuing every single little thing.” 

Biggest office problem when running out of sweet curd snacks? 

After hearing this question, Oleksandra laughs heartily and admits that there are people who still have such problems when they want to go out and buy coffee, but the cafe is closed because there is no electricity. 

“From the first days of the war, there was no silence in the offices and questions arose, we shared all the information we received. All the air alarms and stuff like this affected the workplace atmosphere. Now it’s a bit easier, but war is still here every day in our heads— you can’t get rid of it. We have a lot more to talk about. 

The war also influenced the choice of jobs. 

“When the war began a lot of people lost their jobs because the business started closing and someone had to relocate or leave the country. It took some time, especially in the first weeks, when you couldn’t really understand what was going to happen, and you couldn’t predict anything. Workplaces were created from some international organizations or funds. And some people had to fill up these workplaces. So, those who didn’t have a job until then could find both a job and new friends, and those who still had a job could grieve over others’ losses.”

There are no inappropriate topics

When team members are in dangerous territory, you want to help in any way — by text or call. However, one might find themselves thinking what topics would be appropriate without wanting to offend. Oleksandra says that there is a war going on right now and there are no uncomfortable topics. 

“I feel like maybe for people outside Ukraine, it feels like there are some taboo topics that we don’t feel comfortable discussing. Maybe we will be crossing some boundaries and it’s completely understandable. But it became so normal for us to talk about war, our victories, and losses. People have a lot of questions. So, we really do encourage people to ask because we are happy to share our side of the story. 

And honestly, CyberCare and Lithuania in general are doing so much already and we see and feel that support, and we will never forget it. That’s for sure.”