In just the blink of an eye, our lives have been turned upside down by the arrival of COVID-19. Suddenly thrown into unchartered territory – with little indication of how this will play out – it’s natural for companies and their people to feel unsettled. Wherever you are in the organisation, your goals, connectedness, structure, and most crucially job security all feel threatened.
That means, whether it’s an SME, a multinational conglomerate or a unicorn startup: all companies need to ensure their communication is up to scratch during this period. Transparency and consistency are both key – but don’t forget about fun too. Here’s how we’re managing things at DCMN with our best-practice guidelines and routines to keep the business on track, stay positive and most importantly keep each other sane.
1. Keeping company communication regular and transparent
COVID-19 has created a huge amount of upheaval in the global workforce, so it’s a given that your employees will want to know what’s going on – and it’s in everybody’s best interest to establish robust lines of information as quickly as possible. First things first, this cannot come from middle management. Strong communication in this time needs to be provided from the top – preferably the CEO or one of the founders. Make sure it is clear, transparent and frequent. This will help to create much needed trust in the leadership of the company.
If an update concerns the entire company, it should be delivered simultaneously and transparently. When management decided early on to implement a work from home policy, the entire DCMN team found out at the same time. Not in dribs and drabs – everybody found out at the same time. The leadership team supplemented this announcement with advice on how to work from home effectively, while also offering everybody the chance to ask questions. Every Monday since then, the entire company has dialled in for an update by our CEO and co-founder Matthias. “It’s important to stay transparent about any new developments to make sure (the team) are always up to date,” he explains.
Whether you’re working on a management or team level, the same rules apply. With factual, honest and frequent communication – about everything from updates on the business situation to short term goals – companies can keep needless panic at bay, prevent destabilising rumours from spreading and instead uphold a productive and healthy company spirit.
2. Staying positive and keeping connected
Over the past 10 years, DCMN has worked hard to build outstanding company culture based on a collective vision and purpose. First and foremost, we are focused collectively on delivering kickass growth – and no bullshit consultancy! – for our clients. But business goals aren’t everything. There’s also the various social events we utilised to foster a culture of radical supportiveness, openness and fun. Removing 1-to-1 interactions has the potential to take a toll on our people and culture – so we took this as a challenge to bring ourselves closer together than ever before.
As a global team with connected offices dotted around the world, we’re lucky to have learnt a thing or two in virtual communication over the years. 180 offices for one though? That’s a whole new ballgame for us too. To mitigate this loss during our social distancing, we strive to be more connected than ever, stay positive and show empathy for one another. To do just that, we’ve introduced a weekly Friday “Happy Weekend” all hands Zoom call. Kicked off with some much-needed positivity from Matthias, we share our team highlights before finishing up with some personal stories…and if we’re super lucky a spot of karaoke from our in-house former pop-star Mukki! By keeping things fun, visual and interactive, it lightens the mood and closes out the week on a positive note.
In addition to our daily team Zoom catch-up calls – to which Snap Camera filters have been quite the addition – we’re also encouraging each employee to catch up with a colleague outside of their own cohort in a 1-on-1 coffee, lunch break or evening drink, then share screenshots to the company-wide Slack group. It’s a really nice way to stay in touch with former kitchen buddies while sending out good virtual vibes across the company.
3. Acknowledging that we’re all in different situations
“Nobody was prepared for this situation, but we are sure that together we will be able to get through the upcoming weeks and support our colleagues.” – Chief People Officer, Nikoletta Tamás
Nobody has it easy during a pandemic. Although we’re facing similar restrictions, everyone holds a unique position in this crisis. It’s important to acknowledge, respect and have empathy for these varying challenges. Try to remember: Corona means something different for everyone.
One way we’re working to communicate this message is by sharing updates company-wide on parental obligations during school closures. We understand that parents are facing a mammoth task juggling their work and their family life. That’s why we are flexible, offering parents the chance to adapt their schedule however necessary – making sure their family is a priority. But it’s important to exhibit widespread empathy. This is something we foster at DCMN by encouraging everybody to share their personal experiences, tips and advice from this strange time. Plus, sharing all our updates and policies company-wide – even though some changes may not directly affect everybody – reinforces the sense that we are all in this together.
4. Take a break from the news
As our CEO and co-founder Matthias has strongly emphasised during his weekly company updates: “It’s crucial to focus only on the things that we can control”. While staying informed is important, a constant stream of negative or paradigm-shifting news can really impact your wellbeing. Constantly refreshing the news is also incredibly distracting while you’re trying to work. With quite a bit at stake right now, remaining focused during the work day and giving your best is more important than ever.
Here’s how that’s possible: When you do make time for news updates, keep it to trusted sources and stay informed on what is directly affecting you. Then limit your checks to a routine that won’t disrupt your workflow and recreation time, such as reading the news with a morning coffee, before trying to switch your focus for the rest of the day.
5. Try to talk about something else
This is a tough one. First off, we need to talk about it. It’s new. It’s crazy. It’s an unpredictable situation changing every day. Secondly, is there anything else to actually discuss apart from COVID-19? Of course there is! Yes, it’s healthy to address the situation and unpack your anxieties, even with colleagues – but try to find a balance. After all, letting corona take over your every thought, conversation and Google search will take a psychological toll – and a productivity one too.
To take our minds elsewhere, our team has introduced We Share Wednesdays. This takes the form of an open invitation for a video call with a new theme each week including podcasts, movies, tv shows, books, music, children’s learning/entertainment, and so on. The idea is simple: anyone from DCMN can dial in and informally share whatever tips they have for the respective theme. Not only is it a chance to connect with our colleagues on a more personal level (did you know Roland collects 80s vinyls from the Soviet Union?), but it’s also a wonderful way to find new sources of stimulation while we’re staying put indoors.
“…We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand” – Randy Pausch, the famous educator, professor of computer science and human-computer interaction.
On a purely personal note: Don’t beat yourself up for feeling mentally drained at the moment. These feelings are totally valid, so make sure you share those feelings with people close to you, whether in a familial, social or work context.
Still, this recalibration offers up the opportunity to take on some positive new ventures: a chance to reset our wheel of life, as our CEO Matthias has done. Making the most of your free time during a global pandemic may sound patronising, insensitive even, but it sure beats navel gazing. It can all start with setting some short-term personal goals, even if they’re teeny tiny: make some pancakes, do some squats, FaceTime your parents – you got this!
This is a chance for many of us to slow down, adapt and grow together. As a leader or a colleague, there are many things you can do to keep your company culture up and your wheels turning. With some positivity and self-adjustment, we can do our very best to exit this weird time all together, still smiling… and ready for a real-life Friday afternoon drink!