Investing in more than just technology
Over the past few months we’ve gone from having most of our employees working from one or other of our main offices in Oslo and Stockholm, to the majority working from home (WFH). As a technology company we were well equipped for the change – even if it did happen virtually overnight! Whilst we are ‘tech enabled’ and many people have had the opportunity to work flexibly, indeed many have needed to work flexibly as their roles take them all over the world, there is more to making work from home successfully for everyone than just the technology.
Our customers are the businesses that enabled the global switch to working from home. From global cloud service providers to financial institutions and B2B technology firms, as well as apps and streaming services – our customers are the ones people rely on for their digital connected services. And in turn they rely on us. So, we were well placed to switch to virtual offices and remote working. We are a digital company with resources, applications and storage based on secure cloud servers. With VPN access and laptops our employees were already technically equipped to work remotely.
Invest in the home office
However, not everyone has the perfect home set up. Concerned that lack of suitable desk space and potentially noisy home environments could impact employee wellness, DigiPlex made a generous amount available for every employee to invest in additional equipment to ensure that their home office was comfortable, effective and productive. The money could be used to reimburse the costs of a better chair and desk, or noise cancelling headphones for example.
Meanwhile, some activities could not be accomplished from home. These included essential maintenance and customer site visits. Clear steps were taken to safeguard the health of the essential staff that still needed to visit sites. Our technical teams were divided and dedicated to specific sites. An engineer from one site could not visit another site preventing contamination between sites. Visits were scheduled and structured so that teams would not meet on site, and customer visits were restricted to emergency maintenance only, and then scheduled to avoid sharing space with staff. We also developed a virtual video tour of our Stockholm site so that prospective customers could see the facilities without visiting.
Invest in culture
However, the technical and role-based changes were just the tip of the iceberg. For many, working from home, separated from colleagues and friends was emotionally difficult. To avoid loneliness, and to maintain the DigiPlex culture and close-knit nature of our employees, weekly online townhall meetings (with Microsoft Teams) were organized to ensure that everyone stayed up to date with company news as well as the latest steps in our COVID-19 response. In May, the company sent every employee a ‘We are thinking of you’ care package to their homes. It included gifts designed to make working at home even more pleasurable and comfortable including a wireless speaker, wireless headphones, powerpack to recharge smartphones, to name but a few.
Being generous and understanding, and sending gifts is one thing, but the company were also keen to replicate as far as possible the day-to-day interactions that people may miss whilst out of the office. In my voluntary role as WFH Angel I wanted to create fun ways to support people through this challenging time of social distancing
Invest in fun
Enforced virtual socialising can be a disaster, and it is hard to stimulate ‘banter’ and chat in the same way as it occurs naturally in an office environment. We created a range of different activities giving people a choice. They could interact how and when made most sense to them. Some took part in weekly ‘virtual walks’ combining exercise in the fresh air with non-work conversation via smartphone video calls. People could see each other and share the scenery around them. We also created a ‘Digi Chat’ group on LinkedIn for sharing humour and fun with the group. Depending on their disposition people chose to join the virtual coffee mornings, or the weekly Thursday evening ‘Beer and Boogie’ video call - each was equally popular, and many joined both!
Establishing a routine, but keeping things fresh and exciting was key, especially as lockdown become months rather than weeks. The Kahoot quiz league (organised with a male colleague to ensure the questions were balanced!) challenged everyone and with prizes for weekly winners and a leader-board running right up until the end of June. Differently themed competitions ranged from the very popular Where’s Wiljar version of the global phenomenon of Where’s Wally, to the hilarious Fancy Dress at the Desk!
And you will see the returns
Yes, some of these initiatives required budget, but most were driven by enthusiasm, corporate spirit and the joy of taking part in activities with colleagues and friends. The small amount of money spent on prizes and gifts was a fantastic investment in the mental wellness of our teams and the DigiPlex culture. It would have been all too easy to pack everyone off with a laptop and a VPN and expect them to work as normal - even though the situation was very far from normal! Instead, DigiPlex stayed true to its values and vision, and made sure that its people were always cared for throughout the crisis. We are exceptionally proud of our status as a Great Place to Work, and of our consistently high employee satisfaction scores. Taking the small but important steps at a time of crisis is essential to building and protecting the culture that is so important to what DigiPlex represents.
As many now take time off over the summer we’ve one last competition to keep them on their toes – spot the DigiPlex brand. Wherever they are over the summer, employees are sporting the DigiPlex logo and snapping pictures – the best ones will win a prize when we all return (to the office, we hope) in September.
Happy summer – stay positive and safe.
Article written by Tracey Pewtner, Head of International Marketing