As a global community, we have found ourselves living in an uncanny reality, as our freedom to lead normal lives has been constrained from us. There is a recent webinar hosted by Elite that covers how to effectively work from home amid the current circumstances. It also touches on how companies can employ remote working successfully and not just maintain the status quo, but thrive.
Simon Haighton-Williams and Harp Athwal; CEO and Head of Client Services at Adaptavist, respectively, were invited to this session to share our experience as a company with remote working practices. At Adaptavist, we have always been firm believers of remote working, and encourage employees to decide the work environment that suits them best.
The top takeaways from the webinar can be broken down into five sections;
Keeping your customers happy and engaged,
New remote workforce,
Maintaining your corporate culture
Getting your business in shape for post COVID-19.
The ‘Taking People First’ Approach
Keeping Your Customers Happy and Engaged
Our clients are used to working remotely with us on a regular pattern; engaging in virtual meetings and calls is nothing new to them. Nonetheless, as a business, we appreciate that such remote working practices are innovations for some companies, and many are struggling to adapt. For this reason our client-focused teams are improving their efforts amid the uncertain situation to reach out and interact with clients more frequently.
We have perceived that many value driven conversations have emerged, as clients have shown interest in our remote working practices, and seek advice on how to implement these into their own companies.
At Adaptavist, we pivot recommendations around leveraging current communication and employee engagement tools. Just like we do at Adaptavist, companies could be using Trello for brainstorming, Slack to communicate with employees and establish meetings, and Jira with ScriptRunner for Jira to transform manual tasks to automated ones.
From a company perspective, we believe now is the right time to explore and take advantage of these existing tools. This will enable businesses to improve their efficiency even more when they are back in the office.
New Remote Workforce
Even though we are used to remote working practices, Simon emphasised ‘the novelty for Adaptavist is not working remotely, but the fact that it has been imposed on us’. Just like any other company, we are also striving to adapt to this new normality as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
As a collective effort, we seek to support our teams both during and outside working hours. For instance, upper management agreed on buying Disney + memberships for all employees across the company. The intention is to help those employees have a more enjoyable lockdown period. Simon himself has already reaped the benefit, and claims that he and his daughter have already watched all the Marvel movies available on the platform together. Another way we are being supported at Adaptavist during this tough period is by being offered free learning and training courses from websites such as Udemy.
We are abiding by the ‘family first’ principle amid the circumstances. Particularly for those employees across the board who are parents and require more flexibility than usual, the company listens and responds to their needs. For instance, Harp mentions that he welcomes changes to the times and days of his weekly team catch-ups to ensure it suits every single member of his team.
Maintaining Your Corporate Culture
As discussed by both Simon and Harp, at Adaptavist we enjoy well built lines of internal communication. We have a wide range of tools, such as Slack, Zoom, Skype and Confluence for Jira within reach, to ensure there is ongoing communication across the board. However, it is not only the technology that enables this, but also our warm and welcoming corporate culture, which seeks to encourage employees to engage with each other and build a ‘work’ family.
To keep the social spirit of the company alive, we partake in internal virtual events and activities. For example, there are coffee drop-ins every day in the morning and afternoon, where we can resemble hanging out in the kitchen at the office. Face-to-face activities such as Pub Quizzes, Board Games Night and Happy Hours have now become virtual events happening on a weekly basis. Several employees stay connected even during weekends. In fact, Harp leads a virtual global workout session on Zoom where we can get together to break a sweat.
It has been perceived that communication within our company has persevered to be consistent amid the situation. In order to honour our company’s sense of community and togetherness, we use our weekly All-Hands company meetings wisely to reconnect with colleagues across the world and have an informal chat. The Executive team normally uses this time to inform everyone on any updates within the company.
Getting Your Business In Shape For Post COVID-19
When reflecting on what proceeds COVID-19, we believe companies should be rational and pragmatic. Businesses should abide by three stages: ‘Now’, ‘Then’ and ‘Future’, Simon explained in the webinar.
In the ‘Now’ phase companies shift into survival mode, and focus their efforts on motivating employees amid the circumstances, which is what we have implemented at Adaptavist.
This involves acting on the immediate things, such as ensuring employees are fully equipped to build an appropriate remote working environment. Even if this means spending extra money on IT tools, which in the grand scheme of things, it is an insignificant investment.
The next phase, ‘Then’, entails the adaptation of the ‘new normal’, which might take up several months. The anticipation and planning ahead of a potential recession is crucial. This will enable CEOs and upper management to focus on the people aspect of the company by looking into the foreseeable future. The execution and outcome of this long-term planning leads up to the final phase; ‘Future’.
At Adaptavist, we believe there is an opportunity to reflect on this to become more self-sufficient and evolutionary. We are also convinced that regardless of the strategy, what is crucial at this point is to keep a transparent line of communication across the organisation, using whatever technology tool that enables this, comes in handy and is well received by your company.
The ‘Taking People First’ Approach
From a company perspective, our team efficiency and productivity continue to advance in Adaptavist. However, this doesn’t account for how individuals feel about this so-called ‘new normal’.
At Adaptavist we appreciate that the best thing to do during this period is to offer support and be there for each other. It is also crucial to recognise that for some, all they want is some privacy during these difficult times, and sometimes giving them space is all you can do.
Unfortunately, there is not a ‘one fits all’ solution to dealing with the new normality that works for all. As each company and industry is unique, and practices apply differently.
During the webinar, the host, Nelson Phillips, Professor of Innovation and Strategy at Imperial College Business School, talks about how remote working has resulted for some businesses. For instance, Ctrip, a Chinese travel agency, witnessed a rise in performance and productivity from remote working. On the other hand, Richard Laermer, CEO of RLM Public Relations, perceived the opposite; a deterioration in communication across departments and a noticeable scale-down on innovation and creativity.
At Adaptavist, we transform businesses and help them thrive and adapt to continuous changes and the complex reality we live in. If you or your company is struggling to adapt to this new normality, we can help you.