In the last six months, businesses have faced some of their biggest challenges to date; a global pandemic, the impending economic crisis, a mass awakening thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement and all whilst operating remotely.
In April I wrote a blog about the opportunity I thought we had to strengthen our culture in the face of this and the importance I believed both Ownership and Adaptability would have in the coming months. I wasn’t wrong.
So, what happened next?
Getting the OfficeVibe
Mid-lockdown, we knew we needed a solution to help us listen to our team, so we introduced a survey and engagement platform called OfficeVibe. We started a bespoke weekly pulse survey to help us measure wellbeing, find out our team’s worries and gather feedback, giving us an all important read on the vibe of the office, despite being remote. Each of our Team Leads got access too, driving their ownership in culture by identifying trends and intervening to solve any issues when needed. It’s been a hugely valuable tool.
Time to reflect & align
In July, we hosted our first virtual company meeting. We got thinking about how we could provide an afternoon of both reflection and celebration, and get everyone looking forward and aligned to what lies ahead. Keeping everyone engaged for four hours over zoom was a daunting feat, but we adapted, using conversation exercises on phones to head off camera and moments away from the screen for personal reflection. We really wanted the day to feel like a shared experience, so sent out a box to each team member with some Born merch, a candle to burn, some of our classic office snacks and ingredients for a special Born cocktail complete with video tutorial created by our resident mixologist - Strategist, Ilana Green.
In place of our usual summer party, we decided to set up what we’ve called ‘Neighbourhoods’ - groups of up to six team members in close(ish) vicinity to each other - and sent each ‘hood' some food & drink for a picnic in the park. The result was a day that really left us all feeling like a team again. One month on, the Neighbourhoods are going strong - they’ve provided a ready-made network for our new team members (we’ve welcomed 11 since the start of lockdown!) and have meant we can still get the team together for that all important social time outside of work.
A wake up call
July was also an awakening for us, the re-ignition of the Black Lives Matter movement led us to take a hard look in the mirror and acknowledge our shortcomings when it comes to Inclusion, Diversity & Representation. It mobilised us into taking action, and that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve created a strategy, we’ve presented it to the agency and we’ve set up an internal resource group to drive it forward.
Opening our office
We decided, along with our team, that August was the right time to open our office. We found a new space to move into, it’s self-contained with our own kitchen, which felt important in this post-pandemic world and created a rota system to reduce the team’s use of public transport limiting everyone to a max number of office days per month. Creating a space that’s safe yet collaborative has been challenging but I feel like we’ve got there. We can already feel the benefit of getting those moments of connection that we’ve all sorely missed and we’re excited about the next period of working in this hybrid style of part remote, and part office.
With all this change to how we operate, we’ve had to make adjustments to the way we work. Put simply, some of our processes just didn’t work for us anymore. Listening to the pain points and feedback from our team, we pivoted (sorry, you knew that word was going to come up somewhere!) our approach, tearing up the rulebook in some cases and rebuilding processes to fit this new normal; trust us, it’s worth it.
As we embark on the next chapter of 2020, we’re currently working on our longer-term plan. We want our team to have their say in what this looks like, so will be using our new tool, OfficeVibe, to help gather their thoughts on how they’d like to work. Using their insights to play a key part in how we build our policies and processes for the future.
In the whirlwind of the last six months, I’m confident our culture remains steadfast thanks to our ability to listen, adapt and own.