Giving the important message to stay home
I must say, the past few weeks haven’t been easy. In the weeks before lockdown we already started feeling the extra pressure and large attention from the news, social media, the government… on how companies should organise themselves in the upcoming and fast-moving crisis.
So in the evening of Thursday 12th March we decided to give the important message to all our co-workers and interns to stay at home. On Friday 13th we had an entire day filled (read: cramped) with face-to-face meetings, a management team and important projects that still needed to be dealt with.
But the health of our co-workers was just too important and everything else really just needed some creativity in order to maintain the continuity our company needed. So we prepared a thorough briefing on why we were making this decision and what the consequences were, send out the email, made a few phone calls and everyone was informed they needed to stay at home and work remotely until further notice. Even if it was already 10PM in the evening, we just couldn’t wait and do nothing.
The past few weeks
Now, 3 weeks later we still see a lot of continuity in regards to keeping our company going and we’re happy for it. Even our interns can continue their internships without too many issues or impediments. There are some hiccups, assignments being withdrawn or cancelled, projects being postponed but we have built a strong buffer which is keeping our company healthy. We give weekly updates on the virus, the spread, useful FAQ’s but also additional information we want our employees to know.
Now everyone has successfully installed a home office with the assets they have at home or even picked up at work. And we even see some projects going smoother than when everyone was working together at the office.
Shots of happiness
In these times, mental strength and wellbeing is even more important than it was before. We try to install shots of happiness throughout the days. For example, we surprised everyone with an easter present that was initially scheduled to be delivered at our offices and had it delivered to everyone’s home.
We communicate on a regular basis to everyone that we’re holding strong. That we can keep on existing as a company to give our employees certainty and ease of mind. Even though we ourselves have not yet had to use the systems of unemployment or let anyone go, we want to show our support to all the companies that are struggling. It’s not easy to keep some businesses going in these uncertain times.
Having a strong and solid digital environment
It’s not easy to keep your company culture strong when everyone is working at home. But since, as an IT company, we already had installed a strong digital environment with supporting tools and platforms, we see we can still bond with our colleagues and have a strong communication system in place. That’s why we want to share some of our tools and best practices:
- Host a virtual happy hour using Jitsi
- Organise daily stand-ups with your team
- Host your management meetings via Google Hangouts
- Do screen sharing
- Communicate directly or via channels using Slack
- Use Google Drive for document sharing
- Send out a weekly newsletter using MailChimp
- Organise Confluence as your intranet
- Send out Check-in surveys using Google Forms
- Set up Quickbase to organise your entire internal back-office
- Use Meisterplan for resource planning
- Process timesheets and create invoices using Harvest
- Electronically sign documents with Docusign
Some of our tips for virtual meetings
- Make sure your internet connection is running smoothly
- Make sure you create a calming workplace
- Make sure you get to know the platform you’re going to use Hangouts, Zoom, Microsoft teams all work a bit differently
- Set up a parallel chat channel should something go wrong during the virtual meeting
- Put on your camera! It’s a lot easier to recognize facial expressions
- Make sure you have an agenda with topics you want to discuss
- Let someone be the chairman
- Let someone take the notes and draw up an action list
- Let everyone check-in by asking how they feel, if they want to share something…
- Keep it short! After a meeting of 45 minutes, the attention drops dramatically
- Learn from your experiences. Speak out what went good, what went wrong and how you can do better next time
Do you offer daycare over IP?
When we asked our employees to fill in our Corona check-in survey, we really didn’t know what to expect. We read the results and are so proud of everyone who is trying to keep strong. We know it’s not easy when you have children around and no, we cannot offer daycare over IP, but we really appreciate everything our employees do for us on a daily basis, even when they’re not feeling well and are somewhat anxious about the near future.
When feeling bored in the house
Yes, even we get bored sometimes these days. It’s important to have some kind of planning and structure during the day. And some fun activities you can do to take a break:
- Make a walk
- Clean up your wardrobe
- Do a workout session
- Make some healthy food
- Read a book
- Make a TikTok video
- Experiment with your hair
- Call up a friend
- Update your CV
- Send your grandparents a handwritten card
- Take a bath
- Start a serie on Netflix
- Take a powernap
- Write your own blog
- Watch fails
- Bake a pie or cookies
- Do a yoga session
- Shop online
- Play a game
- Give your house a make-over
Preparing for re-entry
Even though the road still looks rough and we don’t know what the next weeks will bring, we are already preparing for re-entry into “normal” life as we know it. Not only is it important to focus on the current situation and the frustrations it brings with it sometimes, we need to try to stay positive and prepare ourselves for what’s coming next. Not only on going back to work, but also dropping our children back off at school, going out with friends again, picking up our hobbies and trying to forget this difficult period. Some say our lives will never be the same as before, but let’s wait and see.