It’s been no small feat navigating around and through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the word opportunity has popped up quite a bit as we plan. Our company did not view the pandemic as the end of work-life as we knew it but the beginning of something great. We viewed it as an opportunity to reset, reevaluate, and reengage the one resource we value the most – our people. The planning began weeks before we left our offices. This was not a flip of a switch; it was a process.
Questions arose that our crisis team needed to answer and answer quickly – did we have the infrastructure in place to support our global team working from home, were our employees equipped to continue the business remotely, did they have the support structure at home to maintain and sustain a remote office, and finally how could we help guide our managers and employees through the unknown. What better company to do this than Catchpoint as our core business model is to monitor, analyze, and inform our customers of the health of their systems through data.
So, what did we do?
WE MONITORED – reviewed guidance from a variety of sources, CDC, WHO, and the local government. Through our networks, a variety of tech groups, and colleagues in other companies, we educated ourselves on best practices. We sent out employee surveys to understand their needs and concerns while working remotely and managing through this crisis. We asked our managers to speak to their employees to gauge the realities they were facing and share that information with us. We collected data because data helps in making informed decisions.
WE ANALYZED – after information gathering concluded, we met as a crisis team to analyze all the data and put together a plan. The plan included:
- Work stipend: A $200 work stipend to furnish each employee’s home workspace with things they needed – chairs, standing desks, monitors, headsets, etc.
- PTO policies relaxed: It is important for not only our employees to be healthy but their families as well. We did not want them to worry about time off, so PTO policies have been relaxed while an employee is out of work caring for a family member suffering from COVID-19 or taking care of their own health and well-being.
- Mental health resources: Worrying about work pressure, family, finances, and health takes a toll on a person’s mental well-being. There are feelings of isolation when it’s your first time working from home, fears of job security, financial security, and making sure that everyone around you is safe. All of this can add up to poor work-life balance and added stress. Catchpoint took the lead in providing resources to our employees through our EAP program, organized events to help diminish the isolation – coffee chats, virtual lunches and happy hours, trivia events, virtual groups, and hallways through Teams and yoga classes. We are also introducing financial planning and well-being workshops over the next few weeks to help our employees plan for the future.
- Flexibility: A typical 9-6 workday was tossed out the door when we left our offices on March 10th. Now our world is surrounded by a spouse, who is also working from home, children who are homeschooled, or living and working alone within the confines of your home. The is potentially no metaphorical door between the office and the home along with myriad other challenges. Working with our managers to embrace flexibility has become our new norm. A dog on your lap during conference calls, children playing Fortnite in the background, or having to work out of your garage is the current reality and maybe a permanent one. Educating the leadership on how to navigate and be more flexible has been one of our key initiatives. Goal setting and focusing on output is key rather than the old school way of monitoring hours.
- Education: Keeping our employees engaged and motivated throughout this crisis is also a priority. If people keep learning, they feel recharged. Introducing a management training company as well as a company that leads in educating the workforce and managers on how to work remotely was key. Again, this isn’t a flip of a switch, it’s a process. Training isn’t a one-stop deal – it needs to be weaved into the fabric of the company and be ongoing, so it reinforces the learnings. We have also invested in hiring a Director of Learning and Development to build the structure of Catchpoint University and staff a team to work on sales enablement, employee engagement, and customer education. This investment will bolster the opportunities for our people to learn and for our business to grow.
WE INFORMED – One of the core pieces of our business model is to inform customers of the health of their systems – we found it critical to continuously inform our people about the health of our company. Eleven weeks ago, we adopted weekly town halls. They are an hour long and follow a simple agenda:
- Updates on the health of the business
- Recognition of our employees
- Spotlights, employees spoke about key projects they are currently working on.
Communication through crisis or success is important. These are unprecedented times where people are forced to social distance, be away from colleagues, and the rhythm of what a “normal” working environment used to look like. With this type of isolation – feeling a connection is critical and that key is continuous communication.
Our CEO, Mehdi Daoudi, has likened our company to a jet plane during a couple of our town halls. The analogy is quite appropriate. The crew flying this plane (our employees) must share common values, vision, and company goals to guide the plane in the same direction and it is important to fuel this plane so it’s a smooth ride. The fuel is empathy, education, motivation, and patience. As we move through to the next chapter after the pandemic – we need our most important asset – our people. And we need to ensure that they too are fueled mentally and professionally through proper support, more than adequate resources and education.