At this point in time, Voxbone has eight offices around the world and employees working across 13 countries. Our industry is 24/7/365, so we have always known that not all the best work is done sat behind a desk, during standard business hours.
Don’t get me wrong, I, like many others, need the structure of commuting to work, and truly enjoy seeing my colleagues daily. Even though we’re global, I never felt very far from our employees in Belgium, Dublin, USA, Romania and beyond.
But global lockdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly thrown up some interesting challenges in ensuring our workforce is happy, healthy and engaged.
With so many businesses in the same position of suddenly having to change the way they think about these things in the face of a suddenly remote workforce, I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from the past few weeks, as well as the methods we’ve been using at Voxbone to support our staff in wading through these unprecedented waters.
The first week of lockdown was filled with cancelling all our ‘live events’, while week two was a sudden gear change as we doubled down our focus on looking at how to engage digitally.
It’s now week five, or six. Who knows? If you’re struggling, here’s what I learned worked and what didn’t, plus some of the tools I’ve discovered to help get people engaged. And while you’re reading, why not sample one of the resources we’ve put together firsthand by listening to our exclusive Voxbone WFH Spotify playlist!
Don’t let the communication falter
As we settle into the new normal, it can be tempting to ease up and fall into the business-as-usual trap. The flurry of ‘crisis’ employee updates can slow down or stop. But, there is nothing normal about this new normal, so we must keep up regular people and business messaging.
Weekly communications from our VP of HR and regular business updates from our CEO and CRO have helped reassure employees. We are also hosting our Town Hall entirely online this time around, honouring our commitment to providing quarterly business updates and a structured company-wide forum for two-way engagement.
Take time to know your NEW employees
This may seem very obvious for anyone in my field of work, but the person you’re engaging now is not the same person you engaged three months ago.
People are different behind their screens, and with the presence of COVID-19 everyone is struggling in their own way. Some seek out interaction, and others shy away. As they change, so should the way we interact with our employees.
Build a calendar of engagement around what you know your employees enjoy, look at intranet message boards, slack groups and reach out to those you know can give you ideas and advice. You will quickly see everyone is in this together and more than happy to share.
As we’re global, we decided to jump straight in and connect everyone, rather than focus on individual locations.
In the past weeks we have set up a global book club, random virtual coffees, held competitions, started a gaming club, planned a FIFA tournament, hosted a company-wide quiz & radio session, and this week we’re live streaming a children’s magician.
We have continued out health and wellbeing initiatives and brought them online. Using existing and new suppliers, we are hosting daily meditation, children’s yoga, adult-only yoga and fitness classes. We have utilised our newly-launched learning management system – Voxbone Academy – to host tips, guides and resources around working from home. We have also introduced VoxKids Academy, sharing curated family friendly, and fun content.
Our top five most-loved employee activities and we how did it:
Like others, we’re hosting quizzes. We were able to split individuals into teams using Zoom Breakout Rooms, this was a great way to enable employees to still complete together without needing to be in the same room.
Wednesday Humpday – Radio Session
Again, using the power of Zoom, we hosted a live radio session. The range of music was broad and the host’s banter questionable, but it was so much fun.
Using Donut, a nifty Slack plugin, employees are randomly paired once a week to set up a coffee date. We’ve had great feedback and pairings – our CEO was paired with one of our newbies who he hadn’t had the chance to meet yet.
Health and wellbeing has always been a focus for us – our Brussels office has its own built-in gym, for goodness sake. There was no way we couldn’t bring this online. We host two initiatives a day online using Zoom.
We’ve even introduced new activities including family yoga to help include our employees’ children and a time when Voxbone parents are having to juggle their work and family commitments like never before!
One competition we hosted early on was a sticker design competition. We asked employees to share photos of the stickers covering their laptops, and we voted live on Slack for our favourite using Polly.
The winner got to work with our designer to create a new Voxbone sticker to be printed with Sticker Mule and shared with employees only. What was fun about this easy campaign was it allowed a trip down memory lane of our brand and helped encourage creativity.