Like many others around the world, we too have had to adjust to a new way of working together at CrowdRiff. In less than 48 hours we went from being 100+ people in an office in Toronto to a distributed team working from home.
Here’s our own list of what (we think) is unique, and what’s been working well for us. Our hope is that you find inspiration and value from some of our strategies and processes to enable your own WFH success.
Ensuring employees are equipped to do their best work remotely
First things first. Hats off to our HR & People team, who ensured every CrowdRiff employee was equipped to do their best work remotely.
While this may not be unique to CrowdRiff, I was surprised to learn many of my friends at other companies were suddenly told to just grab their laptops and head home. They received little communication or support.
At a high level, here’s what our HR & People team did to prepare everyone for remote work:
Take a temperature check
The HR & People team polled employees to get a better idea of the resources they had available to work from home. A few highlights of what they asked:
- Experience and confidence level working from home
- Availability of tools and tech like laptops, headphones with a microphone
- Internet speed
The team gave employees the option to borrow supplies from work to increase their comfort levels, whether it was their ergonomic desk chair, secondary monitor, or the like. We adjusted our usual transit allowance to allow employees to create a comfortable and effective working environment.
The team then documented our WFH protocol on a Notion page, which covers:
- Expectations while working from home
- WFH best practices and suggestions (including physical workstations and routines)
- FAQs about the WFH protocol
The HR & People team developed these policies with families in mind. Now that schools are closed in the Greater Toronto Area, the team was cognizant of employees with kids at home. Together with managers, they rolled out more flexible work hours to accommodate for this.
New Slack channels
We created new Slack channels to help us communicate, engage and, of course, stay entertained.
This channel is all about sharing remote work tips, tricks, routines, and workspaces. Take a look at some of our favorite workspaces below.
The CrowdRiff cafe is a place for people to gather at all hours of the day to stay connected. Some of our favorite programming includes Barista Borja’s pour-over live streams, weekly guided meditation sessions, and biweekly stretch breaks.
This channel focuses on home workouts as an alternative to going to the gym, as well as healthy meals and snacks people can prepare at home.
Team lounges: #marketinglounge, etc.
Every department and team have found their own cadence for success. Many have created new team-specific channels to align on daily tasks.
For example, on the marketing team, our pods participate in daily virtual “standups,” where we discuss our tasks for the day. Other departments, like PED, post daily video updates of what they’re working on. Overall, this improves transparency and collaboration between team members.
Limiting COVID-19 updates to a single channel
It can be overwhelming and distracting to be constantly plugged into the news.
To address this, we’ve created a separate #quarantine channel as a place to post updates about the pandemic. This allows employees to limit their exposure and opt-out if they’d like.
Custom Zoom backgrounds
Why not join internal meetings in style?
There are tons of fun Zoom backgrounds out there, but at CrowdRiff we designed some of our own.
Try out these travel themed ones created by Derek Sharpe, our Brand Lead. They’ve even been picked up by folks like Jay Baer and LinkedIn.
If people are more into realism, they can relive the nostalgia of CrowdRiff’s old office at 116 Spadina. (Fun fact: we’ll be moving into 225 King St once it is safe to do so.)
Employees can hang out in old meeting rooms or their colleagues' desks. Shoutout to one of our Senior backend developers, Dave Lobsinger, for creating these.
Creating new social rituals and routines
Working from home inevitably makes it harder to have some of the impromptu social connections that you can have face-to-face, at the watercooler (or if you’re like us, at the Bevi), or around the lunch table. Here are a few of the things we’re doing to help keep this connection going:
- The marketing team schedules weekly virtual drinks every Thursday evening
- The CS team does morning yoga together
- The whole company is continuing our tradition of #brewlove (grabbing a coffee with someone at the company you don’t work with) virtually
We’ve also done a few things to help bolster communication and transparency in our day-to-day work routines:
- Encourage employees to have their camera on during meetings
- Suggest managers shift their 1:1 meetings to a weekly, rather than a bi-weekly basis
- Being mindful of the miscommunication or misinterpretation that can happen virtually; letting people know to not be afraid to over-elaborate, over-communicate, or over-specify
- Sending short Loom videos or hopping on a Zoom call for clarification
Remembering we’re in this together
One of our core values at CrowdRiff is “we’re in this together.” Everything we listed above lines up to this. And most recently, the HR & People team rolled out the following programs to help drive this home:
- Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). This gives all employees and their dependents access to confidential, clinical counseling and lifestyle information services.
- Random APPs of Kindness. To help provide a little more support, the team is reimbursing each employee for a monthly subscription to a wellness health app such as Headspace (meditation) or Aaptiv (workouts).
By no means are we perfect—like many of you, we’re still figuring this out. But we can say that these are the strategies and ideas that have been working for us.
We know it’s been tough, but together, we’ll get through this.
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