It's been around four months now that we transitioned from in-office to the new way of working from home. Needless to say, it was a never-seen-before challenge that was thrust upon each one of us all of a sudden. Acclimatization to make work from home successful was an arduous task that needed sensitive handling. And, I can say with confidence that we are doing a good job of supporting our people through these difficult times.
At Arkose Labs, we took pre-emptive steps and embraced work from home in early March to ensure safety of our people. Our CEO, Kevin Gosschalk, announced reimbursements of up to $1,000 to each one of our employees to buy items that they felt would help increase their productivity or help with childcare. We made sure our people were well supported in terms of a secure and stable network and had access to the necessary tools for productivity. Apart from providing them with the tools to make work from home successful, it was important to keep the morale of our people high. We continue to make efforts to help them—at times, even handhold them—to make their work from home experience pleasant and happy.
Accept and respect every individual
As we interacted with individuals over the initial settling-in period, we realized everyone has a different response to change—some are more adaptive than the others. Some work well alone, while others need continual interaction. Some have small kids or aging parents to attend to. We accept and respect every individual's style of working and allow them the room to juggle between different roles and responsibilities. To facilitate work-life balance while working remotely, we have introduced innovative ‘out-of-office’ notifications that do not need a manager’s approval. These include ‘zen time’ to help our people meditate or exercise, ‘away from screen’ to just unplug, and ‘family time’ to spend time with the family or assist with at-home schooling.
One of the key learnings in these months of working from home has been to keep communication as open as possible. It was important to promote collaboration and foster team spirit even though it was all through digital means. We set up virtual lunches and arranged one-on-ones to not only discuss progress on the work front but also check on each other's well-being. I cannot stress enough the importance of one-on-ones, as it is one of the most important elements in retaining talent and reducing turnover.
Open communication is part of our company's culture
Employees today are no longer enticed by the perks and frills accompanying the job. They want career development and growth. It is here that one-on-ones prove supremely beneficial as they are ideal for career development discussions. To make work from home successful, we continue to encourage every manager to have regular conversations with their direct reports. These conversations are primarily on two fronts—first, taking stock of what's being done, what's planned etc; and the second, focused on career progression. These conversations are an integral part of our company's culture and participants prepare well in advance to make the most of this time.
One-on-one discussions also provide managers with an opportunity to provide feedback to their direct reports. Timely feedback helps team members learn where they are going wrong and take timely corrective action. They also learn that they are appreciated for their value-addition to the project and the company, at large. Team members can open up about the problems they face while working from home. For instance, it was challenging for some of our people to manage work and kids at home simultaneously. Empathy and counseling on the best way forward helped them manage their time and responsibilities better.
'Sync-ups'—as we call them instead of 'skips'—have helped the leadership team communicate effectively with the employees. To ease their anxiety and enable our employees to participate in a relaxed manner, we send the talking points in advance.
Reach out, listen, support
We continue to help our employees make work from home successful by enabling them to overcome the myriad of challenges they face. We make conscious efforts to keep our employees at ease by listening to them and interacting with them continually. Being at the helm of human resources at Arkose Labs, I find it extremely satisfying that we have been able to support and nurture our people to help them grow even during these uncertain and challenging times.
Arkose Labs is a fun place to work with a lot of room for professional growth. We take pride in our people and our company's culture. Learn more about us here.