As the world continues to feel the impact of COVID-19, many companies throughout the U.S. have had to shift to a fully-remote work model to keep employees safe and to comply with government regulations.
LTV has long embraced and been successful using a remote resource model prior to the coronavirus pandemic. While we have 100+ employees in our New York City and Costa Rica offices, many other employees are scattered throughout the U.S. Remote employees and contractors are already fully integrated into every aspect of our operations, from our product teams to our customer support department.
Having a remote resource model already in place gave us a blueprint when it came time to fully transition our staff to work from home once the pandemic put a stop to business as usual operations, even as we learned some new things along the way.
How we created a remote work experience for our team
How did our company successfully move 100+ full-time employees and 100+ customer support agents to a fully-remote workforce in the wake of COVID-19, and what do we plan to do with our learnings from this work-from-home period? Here’s what we did:
We gave our employees plenty of notice
At the end of February, we began asking in-office employees to bring their laptops home every day in the event of an extended office closure. All computer software and operating systems are routinely updated so everyone has access to the same communication platforms and tools they need to perform their responsibilities from home.
The Operations team communicated often and across several channels to coordinate with employees to ensure that they felt supported and had the necessary equipment to effectively do their work from home.
We optimized all meetings and tasks for remote work
The BeenVerified team already used Slack, Google Meet, G-Suite, JIRA and Confluence to communicate and collaborate every day. This has continued to be our norm as all in-person conversations and meetings have shifted to our existing digital channels.
We’ve trained our managers to successfully work with remote direct reports
Managing employees remotely can be tricky. We’ve helped team leaders navigate this by having them keep regular weekly 1:1 check-ins with their direct reports via Google Meet or Slack. Both manager and direct report are encouraged to use video so they can see each other “face-to-face”. For each meeting, managers set agendas, discuss action items and next steps to help prioritize goals and tasks. Just as important, we make sure to check-in on morale and discuss how people are feeling, especially during such a difficult time.
Managers are also encouraged to mix things up—for example, some engineering managers now hold weekly “office hours” via Google Hangouts and invite direct reports and cross-team colleagues to keep the channels of collaboration open.
Managers also encourage their direct reports to continue honing in-person skills even during the office closure. One such outlet has been LTV’s Toastmasters, a program that provides a platform for any employee to give a company-wide presentation and receive feedback to help improve their public speaking skills.
“This is also a challenging time for managers who need to rely more on their empathy and show flexibility to their direct reports’ personal circumstances,” said Stefani Ribaudo, LTV’s Chief People Officer. “Our leaders are continuously checking in with managers and helping them grow in their roles as they shift to managing on a 100% remote basis for the foreseeable future.”
We’re keeping our culture alive through remote events
If there has been one small but uplifting positive from this pandemic, it’s how our employees have banded together, forming stronger ties with their colleagues. Here are a few examples of the creative “culture activities” our employees have participated in to stay connected to each other:
- Daily Meditation. We utilized our existing #meditation Slack channel to help our team get in the right mindset for work. Every day, the team has the option of joining a guided meditation via Google Meet, and each session has a different focus.
- LTV Cribs. Each week, we host a virtual happy hour and go on a “home tour” with different members of the LTV team. Cocktail (and mocktail) recipes are sent out in advance and employees are encouraged to share their drink of choice during the Hangout.
- Live-stream workout classes. Our employees have started weekly live workouts to stay active. From vinyasa yoga to crossfit, our employees have found a workout buddy in each other while sheltering at home.
- Poker Night. We have both a Slack channel and virtual meetup for folks who want to play poker online.
- LTV Chefs. On our new LTV cooking show, team members show off their favorite dishes they prepare at home. Click here for the inaugural recipe, a spinach and mushroom quiche, from one of our senior engineers.
“Our team members are going through challenges both at work and in their personal lives, with social distancing measures being particularly felt in the NYC area, where many of our employees are based,” said Ribaudo. “To the extent we can mitigate some of these negative effects with creative and fun events that bring everyone together, we want to do that.”
In these unprecedented times, our team continues to monitor guidelines from the appropriate government agencies and health officials. Our team is fully prepared to continue to work remotely, but we’re also preparing for the time when our employees can transition back to working in-office. The timeline, for now, is unknown, but we will be doing analysis to see what worked well, what didn’t and what learnings can we take from this experience.
Until then, we’re doing our best to support and empower employees as we all adjust to this new normal.