To restrain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bangladesh Government announced a nation-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It’s been 23 months and counting since the world has been turned upside down with the arrival of COVID-19 and it does not seem to be going away just yet. A year ago, LevernGear, a bootstrapping company of 6 years, was concerned on how it would pull all stops to keep the business afloat while maintaining a zero-infection workplace.
A year on, we look at what has changed and how in keeping with LevernGear’s spirit of technological innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship, the company has infused best practices into a fully remote working environment within two days short notice.
LevernGear has evolved into a global medical billing needs company with more than 250 employees to date. At that time one of the biggest challenges was onboarding new employees. When new recruits showed up for their first day on the job at LevernGear in mid-March, 2020 their orientation was anything but normal. During any other time, every team would have given the newbies a hearty welcome and provide long term training sessions for 7 to 30 days but with employees urged to work at home as a result of the pandemic, only a skeleton staff was on hand to greet their newest co-workers. After completing some routine paperwork, the workers were handed laptops and sent home to learn the ropes of their new jobs and meet their co-workers online via videoconferencing.
No one knows when they will meet any of their co-workers face to face, they continue sending the laptops directly to all employees’ homes since the company decided in early-April to shutter the office completely until the virus threat passes.
It’s a scenario that has been playing out across the country as the number of coronavirus cases swells and more employers commit to the social-distancing practices that health officials say will help slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
Remote retention strategies: What else works?
Whilst ensuring employees getting off to a good start is key to a company’s ability to retain them, maintaining the momentum is equally important. What are some of the other initiatives the company has adopted in order to keep the engagement level high?
The introduction of peer support groups is a good example. All employees are allocated to a support group based on teams. The way these groups work is that every team member is placed in a Whatsapp group under the care of one Team Manager. Constant communication and updates are happening and the focus is a lot more on our wellbeing, not so much about work. At this juncture, we have to make sure our people can adapt and cope well.
Evidently, these support groups provide a platform for all employees to share and discuss what’s going on, not just about work, but also other aspects of their life. It is a safe space for employees to share their concerns, worries, frustrations and allow the other members in the group to provide the support they need.
Online meet-ups with founders and online mentoring sessions with the MD and GM allow employees of all levels to engage directly with senior management leaders. In these sessions, employees can freely ask questions and solicit feedback.
Having a good collaboration platform is another example of how LevernGear eases the challenges of working from home. The tech team advocates extra VPN to help manage projects and people. This ensures that all deadlines are crystal clear to everyone and the pipeline of each project journey is clearly outlined.
Last but not least, touching hearts outside of work is also central to LevernGear’s motto of togetherness, positivity, and care. Meanwhile, employees showed their appreciation with positive words and smiling pictures sent through private messages.
Before thinking about sending workers at home to work during the coronavirus pandemic we follow the strategy
Establish an information command center and chief communicator: Now, more than ever, employees need information. “We need someone who’s focused on working with disbursed groups, who can talk about and help reduce employee fears, as well as deal with logistical concerns.”
Change your productivity mindset: “It’s not realistic to think we can maintain pre-coronavirus levels of productivity right pandemic. Instead, “focus on keeping everyone safe and healthy while maintaining as much productivity as possible.”
Work with what you have: Organizations with a long history spent years developing policies and procedures. But whilst in the pandemic, there was not enough time to start setting up the remote access infrastructure to test new processes. Companies must make decisions quickly about how to handle e-mail and other data remotely.
Be secure: It’s never too late to update virus protections and remind employees about safe remote work processes, especially if they’re using their personal laptops for official business. If possible, conduct a crash course on cybersecurity. We didn’t want people to take their laptop and connect too our VPN. Keep an IT staff on hand to help workers with their security and other technical issues.