Marija Beslac Internal Communications Manager
Date: April 14, 2020 Tags: Internal Comms, Nordeus at Home SUBSCRIBE
LIFE AT NORDEUS

Nordeus at Home – Internal (Over) Communication

It is not the distance that keeps people apart, but lack of communication.” A quote often used in relationships, but something we have found particularly relevant in these unusual times. We shared recently our immediate experience of swiftly moving into a WFH mode, how we did it, what tools we use and what we learned during the first week. Within that we mentioned how internal communication is important to us in general, but even more so now. Everything we’ve built over the last 10 years, trust in each other and in Nordeus, helped us immensely to make this move to full remote working, with as little friction as possible – internal comms included. It was a team effort. 

HOW TO STAY AND PLAY TOGETHER, APART?

The first thing we did was set up a dedicated Work From Home Support Team. A cross functional group that pulled together people from different aspects of the business to ensure we were addressing all concerns and barriers to the way we work. From IT and Workplace Experience, to the Executive team, we had a focus on making our processes and working environment as seamless as possible to streamline workflows and set the business up for continued success. 

We focussed on making sure our people are safe and settled in their homes, can function properly, correlated all the relevant official information so people knew where to get information, created new channels for clarity in a period of increased noise, and looked to set and evolve guidelines on how we work.

WHAT ARE WE DOING?

We’ve reorganized our internal comms a bit to fit into this complex puzzle and stay a strong platform of our engagement and alignment. Realizing that our adaptability and need to understand challenges is helping us even more to speed up the learning about remote collaboration, so we introduced #nordeusathome Slack channel. It created a lively environment where we can find anything from the new measures introduced by the government, photos of our home offices (intruders included), tips on how to lead big online meetings or creative workshops, how to organize food delivery, to our people’s honest concerns and challenges. Equally important, it became a place where if you ask for help, someone would quickly provide it. All right, we admit… we’ll have a rich compilation of funny stories as well when this is all over. 

Streamlining WFH information helped us adapt faster and easier and left other channels unencumbered to serve their original purpose. Additionally it helped us aggregate and organize all those valuable insights, recommendations and learnings in a more structured and usable way. Which was our next step. Utilizing existing channels and creating dedicated new ones for all relevant topics which we might need while WFH. All Nordeans can use them and contribute with fresh updates, making the knowledge base grow constantly. 

We’re also exploring new tools all the time, trying, failing and succeeding. It’s a process. We have a lot of faith in each other and trust that in the moments when someone gets overwhelmed, other teammates will take over. 

Example of the new tool: one the challenges we faced immediately is how to maintain the quality of creative collaboration, which is essential for our work. Nordeans started proposing new tools and for now we are pretty satisfied with how Mural works for us. 

Channels we’re using to streamline info:

  • We set up a dedicated COVID-19 Confluence page, updated regularly with official notifications and announcements from the Government and the World Health Organization. This helps us keep all the official information and news in one place, and avoids the rumour mill. 
  • Creation of the #nordeusathome Slack channel for sharing and learning as mentioned above. WFH support team would pick up relevant questions and share answers to all, again on Slack as the fastest way, which enabled others to build on with their comments and reactions. 
  • IT help Slack channel  in the beginning most of the questions were related to tech setup and tools, and our team was able to address them immediately while everybody else who had the same issue could learn about the solutions.
  • Office Vibe – for keeping the pulse of the company and understanding how people are feeling, we use this alongside checking in with people 1:1 or as a team. 
  • WGO – our weekly What’s Going On updates on Confluence that highlight what’s going on (obviously) in all our teams and all our products, with focus on the most impactful moves.
  • Brown Bag Lunches – something that we have while in the office, but we have kept as an online version – regular company wide meetings dedicated to the health of our products and teams, moving us through the key decisions, strategies and goals, progress, challenges and opportunities. 

The last two helps us to keep the pace and to focus on our priorities.

Fun Facts: our already very dynamic Slack channels (yes, we talk a lot, and constantly) got to a whole new level that we could not imagine. From the average number of 6,000 messages per week, we skyrocketed to 15,000 in just one day! And Zoom jumped x10 – from 20 to 200 calls per day.  

SAFEGUARD TEAM AND INDIVIDUAL DYNAMICS / BALANCE

We missed this on day one of our remote work. Being so used to talking to each other constantly, collaborating, brainstorming, planning, asking for feedback, sharing jokes and funny stories… we gave our best to bridge this gap by maintaining continuity of our existing team meetings, 1:1s, plannings and retrospectives. Where needed we introduced additional meetings and quick check-ins, but set some guidelines in the process to ensure that they are more effective in a time of increased volume. 

Also, noticing the change in dynamics we learned that we need some new rules in order to stay productive but also maintain a healthy work-life balance as much as possible. So we tried to share as much as learnings as we could through our channels and aggregate the most effective ones.To keep our productivity high, but first and foremost mental and physical health high, two words came up – asynchronous communication. As mentioned above, we are trying really hard to communicate and collaborate in such a way that allows our people to deal with high priority or time sensitive things immediately – so we created a How We Work – Guidelines doc that you can view here. For everything else, we try to create the space for flexibility so people can push it through the cracks of their new daily life schedules. Everyone has a unique situation at home, and we do our best to respect it. 

Tip from the team: Our People Team set some team WFH ground rules which you can check out here, that help moving through weekly dynamics and shared them with everyone in the company. Rules tackle various aspects of communication and collaboration, leading standup meetings of 20 people, and also create understanding for kids and pets crashing our calls, organizing life within curfew hours, etc. 

KEEP THE NORDEUS SPIRIT RUNNING

We love having fun, learning and sharing experiences together – whatever we could, we transferred online. We even introduced some new activities – like online cooking classes (considering our love for food, this was easy). 

So we were thinking about all those things we love to do and tried to find an online version of them:

  • Random hallway conversations or a quick feedback are replaced by quick Zoom calls, our version of water-cooler chat.
  • Digital Bravo cards, which allow people to send a special piece of online congratulatory recognition to individuals.
  • Virtual drinks or coffees – if you are missing people across the company, nothing should stop you to stay close.
  • Wrapping up a week in our office used to mean we gather, play games or have laid back conversations up in our Sports Bar. Our WFH version is now team happy hours, where anything but business talk is allowed. We prefer questions like: how are you doing, any plans for the weekend, what are we going to play together now? Pictionary competition? Why not?!*

*Two things we learned here: 1) SpongeBob is a one word; 2) one of us will never have a chance to join the Art team.

All of this is helping us to go through this together, as a team. While we are coping with all other things in life, trying to organize and support our kids, partners, parents, pets, the feeling that we are all in this together, helps us build the momentum.

In a nutshell, it’s different, it’s challenging, but with a lot of empathy and team spirit, it gets easier. Just keep communicating and sharing.

Stay safe <3

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