Culture: on lockdown but open for business
As a business, we started gearing up for remote working long before we knew it would become a live possibility. Why? Because we wanted to make sure we’d be ready when the time came.
Of course, this was largely about strengthening our infrastructure to prepare for the practicalities of running day-to-day operations from 130+ separate locations. Our special COVID-19 task force went to work to ensure that each and everyone of us can do our jobs from home and continue to provide the best quality solutions and service to our customers.
But there’s more to remote working than having secure access to systems and bringing home your screen or keyboard. Just as there’s more to a business than its day-to-day operations. Something we’ve also prioritised is the preservation of our x factor, the thing that makes us different to the next finance provider: our company culture.
We could go on and on about the things we’re doing to be culture conscious but, for now, let’s take a closer look at some of our favourite initiatives
Last week, we sent out the first edition of our internal remote working newsletter. To make sure no one feels out of the loop, we’re using this newsletter to keep our #1Team1Dream alive with business updates, helpful information and a bit of fun thrown in for good measure.
Although ours is a very collaborative culture, when you’re working remotely it’s easy to lose touch with what teams outside of your own are doing. There’s a lot of hard work, great achievements and important projects happening in every area of our business and our newsletter gives us a space to celebrate that.
The only thing certain about life on lockdown is that there’s a whole lot of uncertainty. Prioritising transparency and communication helps to alleviate at least some of this tension, ensuring that all of our people are up to date and informed.
Speaking of relieving tension, it’s important to make time for a bit of fun in between the very real stresses we’re all grappling with at the moment. So we’ve left a bit of space in our newsletter for a few lighthearted updates. Last week, for example, we launched our collaborative Remote Jams Spotify playlist, inviting everyone to contribute via a dedicated Slack channel. After all, if you can’t jam in your jammies during a lockdown, then when can you?
Learning, learning, learning. It’s a central pillar of our culture. From training budgets to free Kindles and unlimited e-books, we’re all about boosting our brain power. That also means learning from our mistakes, giving feedback and adapting quickly to change. Well, we can safely say that we’ve all done a whole lot of adapting to change over the past few weeks! One thing that hasn’t changed however, is our thirst to learn.
This week we launched a series of Lunch & Learn sessions that we plan to run regularly over the coming weeks and months. The premise is simple: grab your sandwich, find a comfy spot and Zoom into a session hosted by someone with inspiring skills, experience, knowledge and information that they’re willing to share.
On Thursday, 58 members of our team joined a Lunch & Learn session hosted by Giles Andrews, Co-Founder and former CEO at Zopa. He currently chairs a number of businesses including MarketFinance. Among other things, Giles shared his experience leading a business through the 2008 financial crisis, the lessons he learned and how to emerge from a recession stronger.
We’ve also run sessions on mastering the software central to our remote working success and a few fun cooking classes on mastering the art of making the most of what’s left in the cupboard.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, we ended every week with a company-wide team meeting. Now that might sound a little bland but our Friday Townhall is more than just your average all-hands. It’s a chance for us to come together as a team (over drinks) to catch up on important business updates and wind down the week with shout outs, anniversary speeches and welcomes to new joiners. That rolls into socialising out on the terrace, kicking off the weekend together.
In the spirit of one our key values, #MakeItHappen, we’re not about to let this tradition fall by the wayside. Every week, over 100 of us have been Zooming in (video and mics on) to end the week in the only way we know how.
We’re still sharing those important business updates, keeping up to date on our targets, priorities and roadmap. We’re still having a few drinks, shouting out those that have gone beyond the call of duty and celebrating the important milestones. In fact today, we’re trialling post-Townhall Zoom rooms – places for us to virtually hang out with each other and welcome the weekend as a team, like we always have.
Our values and culture make us who we are. They’re what unites us and differentiates us from all the others. Now, more than ever, we’re doing everything we can to keep that culture alive. Because we’re strong together. Even when we’re far apart.