Coronavirus: Work from Home Becomes our New Normal
Companies are facing significant challenges amid coronavirus lockdown. For those that can manage their activities remotely, including UNGA, the health authorities have recommended that employees work from home. Quickly rethinking our daily organization can indeed help protect employees and stakeholders, but also slow down the spread of coronavirus.
At the same time, remote work also ensures that employees stay professionally active and that our business keeps running smoothly. Human Resources (HR) plays a major role in making this switch as easy and smooth as possible. As we’re are all in this together, our HR Director, Valeria Lindeman, shares her thoughts on how to make it work.
A major but much-needed switch to work from home
As soon as the health authorities recommended social distancing, UNGA applied the necessary measures, including work from home. Valeria explains, “Our activity includes a lot of traveling to meet clients, suppliers and partners all over the world. Besides that, even though commuting to work by bike is quite common for our Amsterdam-based team, many of us also use public transport every day. We care about our employees and their families. So, to keep everyone safe and healthy but also the business running, it’s our responsibility to let employees work from home.”
In this situation, the role of the HR department is to handle things quickly and inform the team on measures and updates. The HR team has arranged for employees to take office equipment home as well. Like many other companies, UNGA has invested in a remote conferencing service. Valeria appreciates how quickly the team picked up its day-to-day duties. “Every department has now arranged daily and weekly video meetings to catch up on running projects. A positive thing that we noticed is that, even virtually, people give each other the time to talk and listen”, she states.
Additionally, a town hall meeting is held every week, during which each department head shares what their team has been working on. Hong Liem, our Managing Partner, also uses this moment to update everyone on the business. According to Valeria, “This is much appreciated, and it’s the best way to keep people engaged.”
Showing creativity to keep nurturing team cohesion
The role of HR goes beyond setting up policies and sharing information. It also involves creatively ensuring the team stays committed and maintaining a positive feeling. Within UNGA, social interactions are very important, and of course everyone misses human connection. In the office, people can play table tennis, board games and video games together. Employees can attend workout and yoga sessions, which is the perfect way to have fun together and relax at work. Further, our in-house Chef cooks healthy and tasty lunches every day. But unfortunately, the present situation makes it impossible for UNGA to keep up with this routine.
A box of fruits and veggies including healthy recipes was delivered to everyone's home.
The question remains: How can HR cope with the impact on employees’ daily lives? Valeria and her team quickly came up with alternatives. “Instead of having a great lunch prepared at work, we’ve delivered a box filled with fresh veggies and vitamins to everyone’s homes – including recipes created by our own Chef“, Valeria says. This operation was a huge hit! Much to the Chef’s surprise, many people followed the recipes and shared their photos with the rest of the team. Playing with ingredients and recipes at home has turned out to be a great team experience.
Additionally, the HR department has set up more initiatives to help employees stay fit and healthy. Just as they would in the office, employees are still able to attend yoga and workout sessions. The only difference is that they are now online. “Yoga and sports are helpful when it comes to personal development, fun or relaxation. So, we wanted to make sure everyone still has access to these activities. We trust our employees and give them the space they need to make it work. After all, happy employees lead to happy customers!” shares Valeria.
Adapting processes to make the best of this situation
Working from home can nonetheless be a challenge for parents with babies and young children. For this reason, UNGA offers them flexibility. They can adapt and plan their work hours according to their availability. “As a company, it’s important to look at the output. We trust our employees to arrange their time and do their best to make it work”, highlights Valeria.
Working from home affects all employees, including new ones. As Valeria puts it, “Onboarding is one of the most important steps of the employee journey. It gives the first impression of the company.” Usually, UNGA’s HR team welcomes new team members on their first day and schedules meetings with different managers. This practice helps them feel welcome and understand the business and the company culture. Therefore, to ensure that the tradition of a friendly onboarding process persists, Valeria and her team had to adapt as well. “Now that we’re working remotely, we welcome our new colleagues in our WhatsApp group with a welcome video on their first day of work. Besides, we maintain introduction meetings using our video conferencing solution, and we schedule a webinar with the HR department.”
As the work from home situation is extended, everyone at UNGA is committed to making it a success. “I’m very proud of the way our colleagues are dealing with the current situation. They have adapted to these new organizational changes and continued to deliver the quality that would be expected from the office”, explains Valeria.
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