3 startups show how they maintain team morale when working from home
Working from home was once an office perk.
Now, after a month of everyone being forced to do it in a bid to flatten the curve on coronavirus, plenty of people are realising how much they miss the routine of getting up and heading to work.
And while Australia has tracking better than most countries in cutting the spread of covid-19, and there’s already talk of some reductions to shutdown restrictions, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly warned that this is a long-term – up to six months – response.
So we decided to check in with three startups, Salespreso, Compass and MedAdvisor, to see how they’re doing and what they’re doing to help boost team morale, from a distance. Here’s what they said.
Usually based in Melbourne, the data-driven presentation startup now has its team of 20+ staff working remotely. To keep up morale and momentum, co-founders Joel Thomson and Aaron Cooper do morning and afternoon team check-ins. The team goes around and talks about what’s on their mind, what they’re working on and their wins. One thing they’ve noticed is more of the guys are shaving their heads to avoid going to the hairdresser while in lockdown.
Joel said: “This helps everyone see that lots of little things through the day can add up to positive actions and if everyone does their bit, they can keep moving forward and supporting one another. The team also does lunch hour together over Slack – some team members will use the time to dial in while walking the dog or cooking up a feast. It’s been a really amazing insight into the personal side of the team.”
With 100+ staff now working remotely (something the company set up in a matter of hours), the education platform is not only contending with some of the largest changes to the way schools are run but also have to keep its own wheels moving and establish new ways of keeping its culture alive. So as the tech teams were setting everyone up to work from home, the social club set about sorting out employee activities and wellbeing initiatives to ensure all the team felt they could belong, from afar.
Each week, the team does remote games night, playing JackBox and Discord over Zoom. They do daily video standups, something the company’s product team already did when they were in the office, now all the departments do it.
Friday virtual pub has taken off – the whole company has been doing virtual drinks over Zoom as a way to unwind and debrief after what has been some of the busiest times the company has experienced.
Compass Events and Culture Coordinator Bridget Ahmling said: “The team have embraced the virtual, at-home environment and creativity in meetings and social events has blown us away.”
It’s not all drinks and games – meditation Monday has been another initiative Compass has implemented virtually. Using Headspace and Smiling Mind, we’re focusing on self-care and mental wellbeing. These are uncertain times and we all need to look after ourselves and each other. We’re also focusing on remote Yoga each Wednesday and run several group fitness sessions each week – keeping our bodies moving so we can be our best selves.
With so much change, Compass has upped its support for managers so they too can feel connected and help their own teams. We’ve been doing virtual lunch workshops with our leadership team, going over strategies to help set themselves and their teams up for success. We’re also encouraging virtual coffee catch-ups, similar to how we would hold them in the office – but at a distance – so team members can voice how they’re coping, what they’re working on and how they’re feeling.
ASX-listed med-tech company, Med-Advisor is having to contend with one of its busiest times while having all its staff working remotely. As the technology behind 60% of the country’s pharmacies, the forgotten frontline of the COVID-19 response, the platform has had to scale at pace to deal with demand and support pharmacists working around the clock.
To look after the MedAdvisor team, the company has moved its regular yoga classes online. Usually held on a Tuesday and Friday in the office, these are now hosted virtually at the same time – maintaining a level of continuity and also keeping the yoga instructor – a small business owner – employed while her studio has been shut. The same has been done for meditation which is held online on Monday and Thursday.
For all the team members who are celebrating birthdays in isolation, the company is supporting a local small business, sending chocolates home as a little present.
MedAdvisor has also had several new staff members start roles during this time. To make them feel welcome – from a distance – MedAdvisor is sending onboarding giftpacks to their homes. Inside the goodie bags are snacks that would usually be in the communal kitchen (like muesli bars) some Medadvisor swag, a yoyo to help pass the time and a few other little surprises.
The entire company now also logs on from 4.30-6pm on a Friday for work@home drinks. While individual teams are having virtual lunches and coffee breaks.