How Perk Has Adapted to COVID-19
Working from Home is the New Norm
This week marks 11 weeks since the entire Perk.com Canada Inc. office has been working from home, and it comes with some mixed emotions. March 16th was supposed to be our first day in a brand-new office after months of preparing to move, but instead, our teams hunkered down at home with new set-ups in their home offices, spare bedrooms, and living rooms. Like many other companies in Waterloo Region (and across the globe), we’ve been doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and stay at home.
While we’ve always had the ability to work from home when needed, it’s never been to this degree. In the past, working from home was an option to help with work-life balance as needed, but staff were still in-office as much as possible. Now, with a permanent home set up for the foreseeable future, we’re figuring out how to make it work for everyone.
Like many tech companies, Slack has always been our go-to for internal communication. That, and being able to roll up to anyone’s desk for a quick chat or booking a meeting room for larger brainstorming sessions. Now, Slack is being used more than ever.
The normal channels are still up and running, with new ones being made to host video calls for scrums and standing weekly meetings. A couple new channels have also popped up for increased communication, specifically for teams that normally talk more in person. Slack calls have been great for team calls, and we’re also utilizing Zoom for all-hands updates. Staff members have of course been getting creative with custom backgrounds, and we love it!
In order to keep things running as smooth as possible, we’re encouraging people to use their Slack status to show when they’re away from their computer. Status updates are great, and seeing people use the emojis to showcase what they’re eating for lunch is entertaining, too.
While Slack continues to be effective for work, it’s allowed us to bolster staff engagement as well.
Our office has always enjoyed different events, from staff lunches to game nights, and various team-building outings. However, continuing with these activities is difficult when everyone is staying home. That didn’t stop us from getting creative, though.
The #listening-to channel on Slack has always been somewhat active, but now we have a curated playlist of Perk employee jams that everyone can contribute to and enjoy while working. It’s been a fun way to get to know each other’s musical tastes and discover new bands and songs.
We also started up #perk-diplomacy for those who like a little friendly competition. Web Diplomacy is free to play online, and some of our staff have been enjoying the game and learning who they can really trust for game alliances.
Furry family members haven’t been exempted from engagement efforts either. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to have a video call without pets making an entrance, so we decided to have some fun with it. During the first week of working from home, we asked everyone to share pictures of their new work colleagues, and shared them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
And of course, our happy hours have continued. Every Friday at 4:00pm our #virtual-happyhour channel is full of people grabbing a drink and talking about anything non-work related. This is where most of those awesome Zoom backgrounds come in. Just because we’re in different locations doesn’t mean we can’t relax after a busy week.
Mental and Physical Wellbeing
Wellbeing initiatives also have an important role at Perk. We care about company performance, but know that in order for our work to succeed, our individual staff members need to succeed to. For many of us, mental and physical wellbeing plays into that.
We started a workout challenge for “Guns, Buns and Abs” and everyday, staff join a Zoom call to do squats, push-ups, and leg lifts. It’s allowed people to stay active, and participate in some friendly competition and cheer-leading.
Another Slack channel was also created for mental health initiatives. We installed the Thinkladder app to provide daily wellbeing insights for staff, which has received a lot of positive feedback so far. Staff have also been sharing various resources and activities for people to participate in, and share with friends and family.
We don’t know how long working from home will continue for, but we’re proud of how far our teams have come. No one really knew what to expect at first, but every single person at Perk has adapted well, and continue to showcase their skills from home.
Whether it’s knocking out weekly goals, brainstorming new ideas to keep staff engaged, or helping others with whatever they need, our office has successfully remained united. The future might look uncertain, but we know we’ll be able to get through it together.