Coronavirus: Why the team is your strength — and your main priority

Written by Aingaran Pillai, Founder and CEO of Zaizi

You know how the past fortnight’s been like. Any words I come up with won’t be better than the ones you’ve thought or uttered. We know COVID-19 (Coronavirus) will affect us in many ways.

At Zaizi, we’ve been tracking the situation for a good few weeks. As a modern digital company, we’re used to moving fast and changing when required. So we moved early; to ease the concern of our staff everyone started working from home (WFH) in the second week of March.

WFH isn’t complex. Last year, we did a discovery exercise on ourselves to find out what we needed to consider as a growing company. One of the things that came out of the exercise was the desire for the team to work more flexibly and so we started working from home a couple of days a week. And that work put us in a good position to make the switch completely.

Most of our clients are government organisations. We communicated our intentions to them and they were reassured we had a plan and pleased that we can provide the same level of service by working remotely.

But the biggest concern and responsibility hasn’t been the business or clients – it’s been the team.

With any digital organisation or digital project, the ‘tech’ isn’t the most important thing; it’s the team. So it’s imperative that you provide support to your staff and think about their health, financial and mental wellbeing.

We’re in a healthy position and so we moved to reassure the team about our future immediately.

We’re still figuring out how we do the softer things. How do we share those “water cooler” moments (or in our case pool playing moments!)? How do we ensure people’s mental health is OK in this difficult time? How do we keep that working culture we’re so proud of?

We’re trying to find interesting ways to keep the team’s morale up — from playing interactive games and having virtual lunches/coffee breaks, to impromptu exercise sessions on slack to get everyone off their seats/couches.

When our children suddenly ‘videobomb’ an important meeting, it’s OK. It’s not a problem for us, or our clients. It actually provides some levity. With kids and work being at home, we need to embrace and accept this work-life merge. We all work. And we all have families. The pretense of separating the two isn’t important at this moment in time. And it’s probably a good thing that pretense is being shattered.

There’ll be many other challenges ahead that need innovative solutions. For example, we’re still hiring; how do you onboard staff properly without actually meeting them in the flesh? But we are, as other organisations will so too, finding innovative solutions to those challenges and progressing.

The coronavirus will fundamentally change how we as individuals and companies work. After this is over, could we go back to the old ways of working?

It is a testing time. But out of this hardship, we will get ease. And hopefully, a better, more compassionate and caring outlook both in and out of work.

Originally published here.

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