For the first time, all of our Proxyclickers are working remotely as we weather COVID-19 and wait for lockdowns to slowly phase out.
We’ve always had remote teammates and offered our people the ability to work from home when needed, but there has always been an office. In the span of a few days, we went from remote friendly to remote necessary.
By now, there are many articles with great ideas on how to address COVID-19 from a people experience point of view.
But I wanted to share the lessons we've learned at Proxyclick. Here's how our team has made those best practices our own, and how a strong set of values can help navigate through a time of crisis.
1. Move fast, be real
We took an early decision to ask people to work from home around the world.
We did what many companies did: set up virtual coffee breaks to give people places to connect, focused on immediate business continuity, and communicated often.
We put ourselves in their shoes and found quick answers to important issues- offering a financial stipend so people could set up their home office, communicating family friendly guidelines so that our people were at ease when their children and pets made impromptu visits on our calls.
It’s still fun to watch everyone break into big smiles no matter how serious the discussion as soon as one of our kids makes a guest appearance.
2. One team
Reaching out to our teams, we quickly discovered that our "one team" value meant understanding the unique circumstances of every individual.
We had parents with young children and couples negotiating Wi-Fi bandwidth. We had people in the process of moving who sat in unfurnished apartments, or in the company of friends, or back at home with their parents.
Some had grandparents to care for, or their own health to manage.
Our managers shared their experiences on the best way to engage with their teams and we all agreed: it's important to start with the person before the task.
3. People first
We’ve moved from being reactive to anticipating the emotional needs of our people, and managing a longer term plan for our team’s engagement.
It covers everything from sending Easter eggs to six different countries, offering tips for emotional health, and finding ways to help people use these strange times for their development.
As responsible leaders, our role is not only to help everyone weather the uncertainty, but to also guide the team on our collective responsibility as social citizens beyond the office.
Meanwhile, our team is considering how our product can help companies protect their people and premises. Because our customers are part of putting people first.
4. Trust all-around
We hold a consistent Friday call to share news. We are as upfront as we can be about job security and why we remain focused on thoughtful growth.
We have shared our own vulnerability as leaders through our personal stories, and we have helped set the boundaries for our team to find balance by introducing a focus day where we encouraged zero use of Slack, email, and Zoom. That gave people the space to focus on deep work or to recuperate lost personal time.
This focus day was so popular, it led us to create subsequent "lab hours," a weekly period where people can shut off from technology and truly focus on their work.
As we find ourselves unable to leave the job at work, and we open up the digital windows into our homes, we understand that each person has personal boundaries that we should aim to respect.
5. Aim high
In a company-wide survey, we’ve asked the team to tell us where we’ve done well and what we can improve in managing through this crisis (and its aftermath).
Some things we confirmed: we are already primed for success in a remote working environment, that our team expects not only great people leadership but business leadership as well.
Our business is reliable and adaptable, and we can all still do our jobs and continue to create value. For this we are grateful.
What we didn’t expect to discover is a new level of trust and teamwork.
That we can do things as a team that we would have doubted before COVID-19, such as running a fully remote quarterly Objectives and Key Results (OKR) meeting to increase ownership for our company’s results.
That with no core central office, there is a shift in balance which makes things more even for us all. We engage with different people and in different ways. What is happening now will have an impact on the way we work and know each other in the future.
COVID-19 may have sent our people home to work in isolation, but we’re all still together in what we work towards and who we are for each other.