As the world continues to tussle with the ongoing Corona Virus Crisis, I realize that Working from home which was initially hoped to be a temporary adjustment is transitioning into the “new normal”. I remember the day when partial lockdown was announced in the Bangalore city, I could sense panic, paranoia, anxiety, and uncertainty in all of us, we were not sure if work from home would be an easy transition for us.
Today, I realize that we have come a long way since then. Our culture of trust and collaboration is what has helped us to adapt to the current situation. Also this transition has helped us become more empathetic, kind, strong, supportive and closer than we have ever been. Below are some details on the principles and measures that we have taken to help our people during these trying times.
Act with Urgency:
As soon as we heard that COVID -19 has been declared as a pandemic by the WHO our biggest concern at that moment was our Team. We know the team is our corner stone and it’s from them that we derive our strength so our sole focus was on keeping them safe physically and mentally. We quickly educated our team about the precautionary sanitary measures that has to be taken inside and outside the company for their physical well being and also on how to work from home productively. The housekeeping team was instructed to regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. We understood that our employees might balk travelling to work because of the fear of catching the virus and their mental well being has been our top priority so we had given them the option to work from home even before the lockdown was imposed. After the lockdown our whole work force is required to work remotely. Being agile and leaving no stone unturned is what has helped us in such a seamless transition.
Communication is Paramount:
The corporate leadership team frequently meets digitally with our people to address how the organization has been impacted; it’s response to the crisis and offer many other advices, guidelines and protocols. During the session they answer the tough questions asked by our employees honestly, offering reassurance.
Recently we even had our first digital town hall since we started working remotely back in March. Our Co- Founder, Avinash Tiwari headed the town hall and the whole team had excitedly joined to connect with each other and talk about how incredibly we have performed during a time of crisis like this.
Also, we wouldn’t be able to do the work we do without solid collaboration tools for Internal Communication. We are using Slack, Google Hangouts, email and many other tools that cater to specific roles to keep each other updated about the latest developments.
We continue to reach out to our teams, to ensure that they are safe and well. We also ask for feedback to find out exactly what can be done to make their work from home life easier.
Our first ever Virtual Town Hall
Save your team from being disengaged:
Remote work can be quite exhaustive. It’s hard to stay motivated without the buzz of the office around you. There are chances that your team might feel shunned and lonely. We didn’t want that for our team, we wanted them to be connected and have that sense of belongingness even while working remotely.
So we encourage our team to have even the small meetings using video so that the human touch isn’t lost. Also, Slack has been an excellent tool that has helped our internal communications easier. We have created new slack channels on different activities or interests for people to talk and bond with others who have the same interests as them. For example, we set up a channel called #for-the-love-of-reading for bibliophiles to share and discuss about the books they have read. We also have channels dedicated to fitness, photography etc.
Virtual Coffee Meet is conducted every Friday, when everybody gathers virtually to celebrate the end of long week by playing some fun games like Pictionary, Dumb charades, Taboo, Bollywood character role play etc.
Virtual Coffee Hour
One random icebreaker question that most people like to answer and talk about is posted on the random channel of slack every day. This helps in striking a conversation among the team members, they get to know each other on a personal level and moreover it’s absolute FUN!
Random Conversations on Slack
Our employee’s birthdays are special and we don’t want to miss celebrating it so we throw them a biggest virtual birthday party of all time. We send them a “Happy Birthday “video montage and host a super cool birthday party over a video call. This makes them feel loved on their special day.
Virtual Birthday Parties!
To ensure that everybody doesn’t have the body in the seat mentality and to encourage them to get up off their seat and stretch, we roll out fitness challenges every week. For example, 1 minute plank challenge or how many Burpee’s can you do in a minute challenge. People enthusiastically participate in such challenges to keep their body fit. We are passionate in keeping our team in good mental health during tough times like this so we have collaborated with a Meditation App to provide them free meditation and yoga lessons for a month.
Accelerating the Learning Curve:
Though we had a lot of fun activities introduced to keep our team engaged and happy, we realized that it wasn’t enough to feed their soul for a longer haul. We wanted to introduce an initiative that helps them learn for a meaningful and lasting development. That’s when we came up with an initiative called “A Passionate Trail – Path to Unwind Latent Talents in Three Weeks“. The aim of the initiative is to encourage our team to make use of the extra time during the lockdown period to learn something that they were always passionate about. When this situation ends, when we get back to our routine, we wanted them to have the satisfaction of having completed a long yearned passion. Nearly 30 people have signed up for this initiative and are learning diverse artistic and technical skills like speaking Spanish, dancing Kathak, digital sketching, AI, Cloud Computing, React Native etc. Sharing our progress with each other and marking milestones together has kept us motivated during this learning journey.
On boarding from Afar:
On boarding employees has become more tricky than ever but we had it all figured out. On boarding of employees for two key positions was done successfully amidst this crisis. All the paperwork was done digitally and the day before joining they are asked to share a introductory write up about them and a video stating how excited they are to work with us, this was shared with our employees so that they get to know about the new joiner before they even join. On the day of joining they were given a proper welcome by the whole team in a digital meet this helps them bond as in a personal meeting.
Don’t forget to Recognize and thank your team:
Our organization continues to nurture its appreciation rich culture by rewarding LinkedIn learning subscription to the employees who have performed well in the quarter even during these difficult times. We have a slack channel called #pCloudy-stars where team members can recognize and appreciate the efforts of their fellow workers. Also, Team Leads can send digitally made appreciation cards to the employees whom they find deserving. We use such simple yet effective ways to appreciate our people for their accomplishments and show our heartfelt thanks to them for their efforts.
These measures have helped easily transition to remote working without causing any inconvenience for the employees. As a result, the team is happy and productive while working from home. The work we are doing, helping our customers in these uncertain times without any disruption, gives us a sense of purpose and pride. We hope we swim through this crisis and bounce back to normalcy as early as possible. Let’s continue to keep ourselves and our people safe and connected till then.