The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way all of us work. In Eficode’s HR department it meant having to quickly adapt to the new reality. In this blog we’ll share what we’ve learned so far.

Communicate more, adapt quickly, and take care of your people. This is how Eficode’s People Operations team has responded during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re living in a very unique period of time and the new reality has had widespread implications for us as a company. We’ve had to adapt to remote working at scale and also to social distancing when we come into our offices. But the pandemic has also taught us interesting and valuable things about the way we work and in this blog we’re going to share them with you. 

It’s better to over-communicate

When everyone is working remotely it becomes much harder to keep everyone in the loop, so communication from management and team leads becomes really important. It is crucial to keep everyone up to speed on how the business is going, what the current news is, and what to expect in upcoming communications. 

We’ve created regular coffee breaks with the management team and everyone in the company is invited. All employees can participate, ask questions, and share their ideas. We have also set up a series of virtual coffee breaks to mitigate distributed working. Some breaks are company wide where all employees are invited and we have other, smaller breaks at team level. Previously, we already had quarterly info calls with the whole company present, but we turned them into monthly calls to keep communication regular and up to date. 

Alongside these new measures we continued with our weekly newsletter to share general information. New Slack channels were created with specific topics such as #coronavirus and #remotework, where employees could share tips and offer support for the new reality. We can’t emphasize just how important it has been to give our employees this space to offer solutions, and having the right tools already in place has definitely been an advantage. 

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Adapt your recruitment and onboarding to virtual experiences

Recruiting and onboarding were processes that needed to be quickly adapted for remote working. Our talent acquisition professionals were already used to remote interviews, so they were quite prepared to deal with hiring experiences that were entirely remote. 

The immediate concern with the new onboarding process was about making sure IT equipment was ordered and delivered in good time to the employee’s home address. New colleagues also have to feel comfortable in their new workspace, so there was also the social aspect to consider. Making time for new team members to meet their colleagues in daily stand-ups and virtual coffee breaks is something we’d highly recommend. 

At Eficode we also carry out interviews with new employees a few weeks after they start with us to check how everything is going. As always, good communication and alignment between stakeholders was key to our remote onboarding happening smoothly. 

Be (even more) present to team leads

One thing that became even more important with remote work was to be ready to give extra support to team leads. We knew we needed to have short response times for both managers and employees to keep everyone in the loop and assist them well. Besides this, we ran internal surveys to check how remote working was going for everyone, and we shared the results with team leads, and we were also able to offer feedback to the whole company. 

Support for team leads included sharing the information from the surveys so we could work together to identify the areas that needed improvement. We also made a point of reinforcing the need for open communication and sharing experiences. The consequences of being remote for a long period of time - especially when a health crisis is happening around everyone - can increase feelings of isolation and anxiety, and we wanted to stay on top of that from the beginning. 

Include (even more) humanity in HR

The COVID-19 situation was new to everyone, including us in HR, but we had to adapt first. We had to transition to having almost 100% of our employees working remotely across 7 countries, write new recommendations, as well as following both the WHO and country specific recommendations. In order to navigate this reality it was important to be flexible and understanding. For example, employees had our immediate support to borrow whatever office equipment they required to work successfully at home. Later in the #remotework communication channel we shared many interesting pictures of different home workstations. 

The majority of our employees managed the transition from office work to remote work quite well. Of course, over time, we received feedback that some people were missing aspects of daily life in the office. For some, managing childcare and work together was really a challenging task. 

We also reinforced an existing flexibility: employees had the freedom to adjust their work schedule in ways that were feasible and possible for them. Some employees have highlighted that they have been even more productive during these times. We have clearly seen that, for the majority of our people, work can be done from anywhere. And even though restrictions are being lifted in different countries we are still offering the possibility of working from home.

Work and wellbeing was also a topic that we discussed and we decided to collect some tips on remote work, self-development and wellbeing, to create a “Work and Wellbeing Kit”. We received good feedback about this, and it was also a good way of sharing our thoughts on maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

Bringing more “humanity” into our HR has been vital during this time. Our only focus was our people. We tried to understand how they would be feeling, how they would be experiencing this situation, and how together we could make sure we were supporting each other to navigate this situation in the best way. A good reminder for us in HR is that we’re employees too and that our experiences during this period are not very different from everyone else's. 

Conclusion

During these exceptional times we’ve learned the importance of increased communication, being able to adapt quickly, being even more present to team leads, and focusing on our people. 

Communicating more has proven crucial. During a crisis, we learned that it becomes even more important to provide as much information as possible. Being close to team leads, providing a short response time, and facilitating feedback inside the organization were also crucial, especially in a situation where everyone was distributed.

Last but not least, the adoption of key agile value - focusing on people over processes in HR. We spent a lot of time creating initiatives to put our people first and facilitate their new working environments. 

All of the areas presented here need to be continuously managed and improved along the way. The COVID-19 situation is not over and no doubt there will be new issues for us to deal with before long. We will continue to learn, and improve.