Since the first quarter of 2020, the world has been facing an unprecedented crisis. For the first time in a while, all countries had to deal with a health crisis, in an interconnected world in which the virus was able to spread faster than anyone could think of.
At AB Tasty, just like any other company, we had to adapt and develop actions to take care of our employees, ensure good communication with all stakeholders, and keep the business running.
First thing we did when everything started? We looked online to find articles which might help us find ideas to handle the situation. Bad news: by that time, nobody was able to give advice because we were all asking the same pressing questions with no concrete answers.
Humans are and have always been a priority for us. And innovation is in our DNA (as one of our values). Therefore, taking both of these aspects into account, we’ve been able to put in place many actions to help us get through this tough period.
At AB Tasty, employees’ well-being comes first. As a consequence, our first action was to communicate with them to let them know that we’d prefer to take more precautions than expected rather than suddenly face an issue we weren’t prepared to handle.
When Europe – where our HQ is and most of our employees work – identified the first cases (the first people who tested positive for the Covid-19 virus on the territory), we realized that we had to act quickly, to ensure our employees’ safety.
First thing we did was to ask employees to take their computer home each night, so they could work from home in case the rate of transmission of the virus increased over a short period of time and in case they were asked to suddenly work remotely.
A few days later, we offered all employees the opportunity to work from home if they wanted to, so they wouldn’t take risks, and we asked them all to cancel their upcoming business trips.
When things started to get worse, especially in Spain and France, we decided to close our offices and asked all employees to work remotely. With no exceptions. We did right, especially considering the governments’ recommendations a few days later…
The hardest part when communicating on such a topic is to take our responsibilities, as employers, but also avoid creating a panic among all employees. Yes, we were facing something unknown, invisible, and we could as easily not realize the importance of it, and then get lost in the panic of it all. As employers, our responsibility is not only to ensure the safety of our team members, but also to inform them about the situation (even if the media plays a huge role to do so) and show them that we care.
Make sure employees have access to the necessary resources to work
We’ve been able to anticipate the situation a little bit as we saw what happened in Asia, where the virus started to spread. Our IT and Security teams worked really hard to make sure that everybody would be able to work from home if we had to ask them to.
Computers, visio tools access, VPN, … many things to take care of that we fortunately succeeded to handle in time.
After a few months and after realizing that this pandemic was here to stay impacting our work habits, we decided to provide all employees with a work desk and comfortable chair so they can work properly from home. To do so, we invited them to buy this furniture if needed and submit an expense claim.
We also decided to reimburse their personal phone and internet bills.
Ensure a good communication while working remote
As the Culture Officer, my main mission during this period was to make sure we kept good communication while everybody worked far from each other. I’m lucky because at AB Tasty, employees try hard to keep a link between each other as they are really keen to live our Team Spirit value.
However, I established at the beginning of the crisis a new communication plan to make sure people kept getting the same level of information:
- We created FAQs regarding the Covid topic.
- I took part in the main weekly teams meetings to gather information that I was then able to share with all the teams (adapting the content and looking for more details when needed to make sure each team gets an answer to the questions they can have).
- The HR team communicated with employees each time we had new information from governments regarding the rules and actions to take.
- We took advantage of the technology and created visio links for all teams to ease the e-gathering (video conferencing is better than phone when it comes to engaging a remote team).
- We helped employees figure out a work routine from home. It’s not as easy as it sounds to get into the workplace mindset and dive into your job without a daily routine.
- The founders shared their thoughts regularly, letting the team know they were on board, and that people were more than ever the number one priority.
- We over-communicated. When everybody works remote, you have no other option if you want to make things work.
Be innovative to help employees face the difficulties of confinement
I was nicely amazed, when everything started, to see the creativity of our team members to make our life a little brighter and keep the link between each other during this somber period that separated us all. Nothing surprising, though, when you know that Innovation is one of our values and it is therefore quite common for all employees at AB Tasty to be innovative. They brought a lot of enthusiasm to the following ideas:
- Teams morning e-meetings, to replace the usual morning coffee people usually take at the office to start the day with casual conversations. It helped us stay connected and even if with time, it got harder to find topics to discuss about, it became a nice habit for most employees in order to stay in touch.
- Slack channel named #Awww to share only nice news and cute pictures regarding employees’ babies or employees’ pets. A bit of positivity to balance with the bad news in the media was nicely welcome.
- Slack channel #covid-random-stuff on which employees were able to share anything regarding the virus (like the paper template we needed to have in France to commute, funny pictures or videos about people overreacting in supermarkets, positive results from first medical researches, etc.).
- We also created a huge game (that we named “Happy Families”) to promote people interactions: we created seven teams (or Families) of about 30 people from different teams/countries and we invited them to take on challenges to bring points to their AB Tasty family (yes, we took a bit of our inspiration from Harry Potter’s Hogwarts houses). Thanks to this game, employees had a bit of fun in their daily work and got to know each other better.
One of the Happy Families challenges we put in place was the E-Coffee. People were able to join a dedicated slack channel on which a bot was picking 2 groups of 2 people each day, randomly, asking them to have a 15 min e-coffee that same day (by sending a picture of the e-coffee through visio, each person was able to bring 1 point to their family). This challenge was met with a lot of success! And we even decided to keep it in the long run after the end of isolation time. Employees keep joining this channel and leaving it when they feel like it, knowing they can come back whenever they want.
Be there for our clients
As we promote Client Satisfaction and Agility, when all of this started we needed, of course, to find a way to keep our clients informed about the impact of the situation on our collaboration, but also adapt quickly to the situation.
First thing we did was to let our beloved clients know that despite the confinement, AB Tasty would keep taking care of them as usual, but through visio instead of face-to-face.
Therefore, and for the first time in AB Tasty’s history, our Customer Success Managers undertook virtual trainings for our new clients and virtual meetings for quarterly or annual follow up.
We’ve been able to adapt fast, and our client satisfaction kept rising over the months!
Act to fight against the virus
What happened had no direct link with our business but we couldn’t stay silent and wait for things to get better without acting. Quickly after we all started to work from home, we decided to give employees the opportunity to help fight against the virus.
At AB Tasty, we have put in place a virtual money people can use for any purpose. In March 2020, we offered them the possibility to take part to our #stayhomepicchallenge to support healthcare workers, researchers, and people vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic through a nice challenge. Our employees’ kindness made us collect a 1,361€ donation.
Take care of employees mental health
Going through a first, then a second wave and having to deal with lockdown, remote work and/or curfew in some countries where our employees work, mental health was challenged over this period. The topic needs to be taken care of anytime, but maybe even more when we face a crisis like this one. We’ve developed a whole program around mental health to support AB Tastiers in the long run. Read more
Change the rules and adapt to this post-pandemic world
The year 2020 changed many things: our priorities, the way we work, our habits… It’s been really hard for us to suddenly leave the office where we feel like home, and be separated from our colleagues that we consider like our family. But there is one good thing which came out of all of this (Enthusiasm is one of our values, remember?): we’ve defined a new remote work rule policy, to ease employees’ life.
Nowadays, employees have several options: they can work full time from the office if they want to (or if their work makes it mandatory for them – e.g: office manager, IT manager, …), or they can chose the Work From Office option, where they work part time from home, and part time from their office, to make sure to keep seeing their beloved colleagues and share nice moments with them, but they can also chose the Work From Anywhere option, where they can work from anywhere. These 3 options allow us to now look for the best candidates all over the world to join our wonderful team!