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What We Learned While Working from Home
As COVID-19 began its sweep across the world earlier this year, we - like most of our peers - sat nervously on the edge of our office chairs, waiting to see what it meant for the way we work in the foreseeable future. The New Zealand government took a “hard and fast” approach, within 24hours we were uplifted from our busy, meeting craized, open-plan office to a colleague free, kid friendly, technology dependent, remote working setup.
After grabbing everything short of the kitchen sink, carting it home, squeezing the kids into the car on the way and setting up a desk in a corner of the house to begin what we soon learned would be 8 weeks of our ‘new normal’, we came to relish some of the changes and reminisced on what we had left behind.
Here are a few things we learned during our time in lockdown, and which parts of the old ‘normal’ we’re planning to keep now we’re back to the ‘new normal’:
- Business Continuity Plan: I can picture the eye rolling as those three words are written, but we have to give it to the management team - BCP planning and practice exercises, no matter how time-consuming and boring they were [perceived to be], turned out to be one of the most crucial tools needed to ensure a stress free, easy WFH transition. Working closely with our amazing and ever-present IT Officer, We were able to implement our BCP quickly and efficiently, allowing the team to get set up with the right equipment and back online at home within hours. Now we’re back, it’s time to capture feedback, refresh the plan and make sure we keep it up to date.
- Technology: Being a SaaS company has its perks. Our team are naturals when it comes to using technology to communicate, keep in touch and manage projects both internally and externally. Already embedded in the soul of the business, Google Meet, Slack, Google Calendar, and Wrike continued to be an integral part in maintaining our workflows. Knowing how to take advantage of these tools as well as identifying and working around their weaknesses, was (and remains) critical for remote working success.
- Security: Our PCI DSS and ISO27001 compliance means we have some of the world’s best security measures in place when it comes to handling client data. Our dedicated Chief Information Security Officer and her team played a huge role ensuring the right certificates, security measures, computer access and locks were in place at all times and restricted access ensured the safety of our clients information without impacting BAU. We doff our hats to our CISO on having the right people, tools, and policies already in place to be able to support everyone over this time.
- Overcommunication: We recognised the risk of becoming siloed in our communications from the start, and worked to counteract this by scheduling extra meetings, company updates and encouraged the idea that ‘too much’ communication was better than not enough. One of the highlights was the 4.30pm virtual after-work drinks every Friday!
- Increased Productivity, Empowerment & Ownership: There’s no substitute for a few hours of uninterrupted time to truly immerse yourself in problem-solving. Working from home gave many the opportunity to dig deep into those projects we couldn’t quite get to, or spend as much time as we wished finessing things during the average working day. Better yet, most agreed that they felt greater ownership in their work and when it came to making decisions. At a time where you can’t just pop over to a manager, decisions needed to be made and staff felt empowered to do so.
Working from home was cool, but our office isn’t all that bad. We admit it, we missed each other. We missed our ‘alone-time’ in the car on the way to and from work, the 1km hike through Parnell between the next closest car-park and the office in the crisp morning sun, the sneaking out with a co-worker for a coffee & gossip at the cafe whilst the bosses were in a meeting (or after a meeting with the bosses), the silent fist pump and muffled taunts from the foosball table. This is us, this is Touchpoint. This is why we work here, and it’s these little things that remind us why we love it.
Moving forward, we’re trialling a flexible work from home schedule to achieve the best of both worlds - we’ll be in the office on Mondays and Fridays to ensure our social connections are strong and allow time to schedule meetings face to face, but staff have the option to work from home as they choose on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays. Our ability to react quickly and find the best possible outcome was critical to our success over the lockdown period, and it’ll continue to be integral as we discover our ‘new normal’.
"Life gave us a lemon, and I'm proud to say, those at Touchpoint Group, took it by two hands and made a refreshing glass of lemonade from it."
[may or may not have been the girl from marketing]