There is no doubt that 2020 was a historic year that nothing could have prepared us for. The onset of the pandemic early in the year put us face to face with challenges we had not anticipated and pushed us to learn to adapt to  the uncertainty that had befallen the world. Working from home became the new normal for majority of businesses and/or companies with the necessary resources to make this shiftand phrases such as “you’re on mute” or “we can’t hear you” quickly became part of our everyday vocabulary.  


Despite their best efforts, some organizations proposed salary cuts, others were laid off employeeand, in some cases, some were forced to close their doors as lockdowns were imposed in an effort to flatten the curve and bring down the infection numbers. All this was done with one goal in mind: to try and survive the pandemic. The biggest challenge we probably faced was how to retain our sanity and humanity, rediscover what really matters to us, retain our connections with our loved ones and show kindness to the less fortunate in our society. Employers were forced to be introspective and evaluate their company values, culture, and whether they were a true representation of their companies. 


For Lotte de Vos, owner of Blue Amsterdam a caféher first concern was how she would be a good employer and steer their employees through a difficult time. When the first lockdown was announced, Lotte was forced to let go of some of her employees, while others who had been working parttime at the café while in school opted to quit having completed their studies. At a time when they were gearing up for what they had anticipated would be their busiest year yet, their hopes were dashed, and the wind was taken out of them as everyone was forced to stay indoors. 


With a closed restaurant, bills that needed to be paid, her three children to care for, her sister who was also her business partner who gave birth to her second child in this period, and the uncertainty of it all, she had more than enough on her plate to worry aboutInstead of letting these challenges keep them down, Lotte and her family pushed through and managed to get through a hectic and difficult period. 


When the second closing of establishments was announced, as the scout motto goes, Lotte and her team were prepared. They came together and organized activities that would bring them together as a team to help them stay connected despite not being able to work. From Zoom parties, a staff member giving an online sports class, and a lively WhatsApp group the Blue Amsterdam team brought back some of the joy they had lost, the days were a bit brighter and their spirits were high.  


Perhaps it was the restored hope and happiness, whatever it was Lotte felt there was more they could do, to feel useful, but this time focusing their efforts to support others in the community who were less fortunate. She got in touch with Count Me In and Adam Helpt and after brainstorming on possible activities, they finally landed on a number of projects that she felt aligned best with her and her team.  Christmas is the season of giving the Blue Amsterdam team came together to bring some Christmas cheer for the underprivileged and underappreciated.  


Something about seeing Christmas decorations makes you happy. Whether it is the Christmas trees, fairy lights, baubles, you can’t help but smile and feel the joy warming you up. Blue Amsterdam knew this and for that reason, their first project involved cleaning out a garden and decorating it, reminding Amsterdammers of the joys of the holidays as they went out about their days. For the second project, the team paid a visit to an elderly home and surprised the residents by decorating it, and for their third Christmas decorations project, they visited a home and worked with the residents there to make decorations. 


For some of the undocumented, the team decided to surprise them with boxes filled with treats and delights to celebrate the holidays. Single mothers in a shelter were not left behind in spreading the Christmas spirit and were treated to a Christmas dinner served by two members of the Blue Amsterdam team. They also supported Voedselbank for undocumented with different activities and some staff members still volunteer their time on a weekly basis to this day. 


Since almost every member of Blue Amsterdam was an active member of society, volunteering was a wonderful way to bring everyone together. As people who are used to rolling up their sleeves, pouring the heart and soul into creating amazing dishes for people to enjoy, volunteering gave the staff an opportunity to be active and feel useful. A bonus was that the team got a chance to see each other and work alongside each other after such a long time. 



Words are not enough to express how proud Lotte is of her employees. Her hope is that they are inspired to keep striving to do good every day and that it gives them a different perspective on how they live their lives. As an employer, the core values you hold set the pace for the kind of company culture you nurture among your employees, and it is in times such as these that you are challenged to step up to the plate and show your staff the type of leader you are.  For Lotte, the volunteering experience changed her perspective on life and made her realize the importance of being more socially concerned, doing more for the city’s underprivileged, and the critical role she has to play in inspiring her employees and cultivating a sense of purpose among them. Volunteering is an activity she plans to keep doing not only for the rest of her life but an initiative she intends to make part of her business going forward.  


 She is hopeful that Blue Amsterdam will reopen with enough work for all her staff and that they will get through that period with minimal financial damage to be able to rebuild their company. Most importantly, she is hopeful she will be able to welcome guests to her restaurant once again and enjoy great food with breathtaking views of Amsterdam, making wonderful memories with their loved ones. 


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Do you want to volunteer, or participate as a company on a fun and valuable project, let us know via [email protected] or call 020 2440272. Together we make a difference.  


Written by: Beatrice Thumi