Last year, Aver – along with many other companies – made the decision to move to 100% remote work. While the initial timeline was thought to be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, it became clear as the pandemic continued that working remotely could be a more permanent move. As a tech-forward organization, we were fortunate to have been set up for success in many ways: our employees had experience working remotely, we were all equipped with laptops and VPNs, and the kind of work we do is well suited to a remote working environment. However, a larger concern was how to continue our collaborative, communicative, and unique culture when we can’t be together?
Adapting to Our Work-at-Home Realities
Aver quickly adopted a new video conferencing tool. While meeting over webcams couldn’t quite replace meeting in person, we took measures to ensure that meetings ran as smoothly as possible. As a first step, we required all employees to have their cameras on during meetings. It was awkward at first as people got used to it, but being able to see coworkers “face to face” not only continued to encourage relationship building between colleagues but also ensured that meeting participants were engaged and active. As we began adding new members to our team, having cameras on allowed us to build rapport early in the onboarding processes and helped our newest employees acclimate to their team and environment virtually.
As time went on and our “return to office” goalpost continued to shift, we noticed not all employees had all the resources afforded to them in an office, at home. To conquer this, employees were allotted a stipend to purchase whatever they needed in order to have a more comfortable and productive home office environment. Employees took advantage and purchased new desks, office chairs, monitors, even AirPods (because you need to block out the noise from your kids’ homeschooling somehow)!
Preserving Our Culture While Staying Distant
One core piece of our culture that was hit hard by adopting 100% remote work was our company get-togethers. In addition to our regular social hours, when the pandemic began we planned to host a celebratory dinner in recognition of closing our recent Series C financing and were beginning to plan our milestone 10-year Founder’s Day party. While the dinner and Founder’s Day party were postponed, we continued to host our fun social hours over video! To keep the events exciting, we hosted games for employees to play while they enjoyed their drink of choice. Video conferencing can make it difficult for more than one person to talk at a time, so hosting an online game – Jackbox has a lot of great choices! – allowed all our employees to participate without worrying about talking over each other. We were even able to host our holiday party over video conference, where employees were broken into teams to compete in trivia!
Meeting virtually still isn’t quite the same as meeting in person, but with the help of great video conferencing technology, support for employees’ home offices, and adapting cultural pillars to online, we’ve been able to maintain productivity and satisfaction throughout even the most unprecedented times. Going through a challenge like this as a team pushed all of us to adapt the way we communicate, in turn allowing for innovation at all levels. As a result, we have come out stronger and more connected than ever.
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