LIVE Q&A
Putting Your Mask on First.

Productivity + Motivation in the Time of COVID-19.

With everything going on, it’s normal to feel unsettled and a little bit lost, especially as a leader. Chief People Officer, Alex Hattingh will be joined by Marketing Operations Manager, Samantha Myers to host a live discussion and Q&A around leadership and productivity in this time.

Some of what they'll discuss:

  • How to cope when you're working longer hours but for less return
  • How to lean into your communities when you're feeling isolated
  • Understanding how to prioritise your time and tasks: are you working for the sake of working?
  • How and when to 'log-off' 

Watch now.

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Meet your hosts

Alex Hattingh

Alex Hattingh is the Chief People Officer at Employment Hero and has over 15 years experience in people management and leadership development. Alex derives energy and passion from helping both companies and their employees succeed. Alex’s roles have covered large Fortune 500 companies through to start-ups including Google, Yahoo!, Lendlease and Ivy College.

Samantha Myers

Samantha Myers is a Rolling Stones fan and Marketer. In that order. Music fan-turned-marketer, Sam is passionate about workplace culture and small Aussies businesses. As Marketing Operations Manager at Employment Hero, she is responsible for driving the strategic marketing direction of the business as well as leading 5 talented and high performing marketers. Sam has worked in marketing for the last 10 years.

Samantha Myers - Photo round

 

Transcript

Alex

 

Good afternoon everyone. I think we'll kick off now that we're just one minute past the hour. Thank you so much for joining our webinar today about putting on your own mask first. It’s about motivation and productivity during COVID-19. I'm Alex Hattingh and I head up people and culture for Employment Hero which is an absolute dream job to be working for a company which is obsessed with making employment easier and more rewarding for everyone and I am thrilled today to be joined by our own Samantha Myers who leads our marketing team and strategic marketing overall for Employment Hero. Samantha is a Rolling Stones fan first and marketer second. She's a music fan turned marketer and Sam is so passionate about workplace culture and small Australian businesses.

 

So what's today all about we all know the safety instructions we receive on an airplane to put your own oxygen mask on first the relevance of this is that we have to be giving ourselves our own oxygen before we can be of any help to anyone else. Now this is relevant and applies to us in life and in work and to be completely transparent I would say that both Sam and myself have at times been terrible examples of putting on our own masks first and we've both suffered the consequences. Sam became a first-time manager a little over a year ago and so I'd love to dive a little bit deeper into how Sam learnt to put your oxygen mask on first and you've just done such an incredible job of leading our marketing team as a manager and also taking on your specialist role as operations marketing manager, so let's dig in. As a manager you're setting an example Sam both to your team as well as other teams so when did you first realize that perhaps you weren't putting on your own oxygen mask first?

 

Sam

Hey everyone so I'd say about a year ago when I was promoted to team lead of the marketing department here, whilst I did embrace the opportunity I think juggling the new responsibilities of leading the team of six while remaining functional in my role as ops manager was something I really did struggle with. My team was used to having a really bubbly and really present manager which I was trying to emulate in work hours and then saving all my functional work for after hours. I was definitely burning the candle at both ends  and I was preaching to my team about time management and looking after themselves while not following my own advice and I ended up as a result being really overworked and suffering from really severe anxiety and pretty much a classic example of burnout. So to get on top of my anxiety, I actually did take advantage of the EAP that we have an Employment Hero which was super helpful. I sought the help of a psychologist who was able to work with me to make me realize that the only pressure that was being put on myself was from myself. No one was expecting me to keep up with the output. 

 

I ended up taking a few days off really switching off and I did my toe in the water meditating - it's a lot less like hippy dippy than it sounds. I downloaded the Calm app and they do these 10-minute daily meditations and that has really helped me set up my day. The other thing I did was I took control back of my calendar, so some of the feedback I was getting from my team when I was overworked was that it was really hard to find time to catch up with me and that's because my role is  functional to a lot of different people and people end up like filling my calendar up and there's no actual time for me to do other work. I took charge of my calendar a bit and I put time blocks in now so I make sure I have an hour in there for lunch so I'm doing that every day. I put in my meditation my ten-minute meditation time every morning before I start work and I make sure I let my team know that if they do need to catch up with me for anything that just isn't off the cuff they can always just put time in my calendar. 

 

Alex

 

Awesome and thank you for being so vulnerable and being so honest. Sam I think a lot of people out there do experience burnout.

 

We might launch our first poll while we're on that and if you can answer that I'll move to the next question for Sam to do a bit more of a dive into things. So look we're really experiencing a first uncharted working from home and a lot of uncertainty with COVID-19. We don't know when this will be over, we don't know if there could be another outbreak and I know that your marketing team have really pivoted to support Australian businesses and it's required a volume of work from your team, so how as a manager have you helped your team cope and manage when they're having to put in so much additional work during this period?

 

Sam

 

So one of the things I kind of started off when when we did make this change, I just reminded my team that it's not that everyone's was working from home, it's that we're undergoing a global pandemic at the moment and they're just trying to work in that environment so I do I did go into this expecting their productivity and their output to be impacted a lot more than my kind of working under normal circumstances. Obviously working from home is great for some people but not as much for others. People have kids at home, housemates, needy pets - there's all sorts of things that might impact their ability to kind of remain as functional as they normally are. That being said, the other thing we've been trying to drive home I think across the company and definitely within my team is that just being able to keep the business afloat in this environment is really like home run. There's so many businesses that unfortunately struggled so much and had to shut their doors, whether they're forced to or whether it's just because of the downturn. The fact that we've been able to stay productive and keep our business afloat is a win and something that they should really be proud of. 

 

I guess we've also been super fortunate in that a lot of the work that we've been doing (I'm sure a lot of the viewers here have accessed something on our resource centre or all read some of our blogs) is really actively helping businesses out there and I think my team have been really energized by that fact knowing that we're kind of doing everything we can to help businesses stay afloat. We did make an active decision to pivot from that traditional ‘we need to drive more potential customers’, to actually just dropping that entirely dropping that mindset and going ‘what can we do to help businesses out there?’. I think that speaks a bit more broadly to letting values kind of lead how you run your teams. I think it's something that you know it's really kept my team energized. The feedback that we've been getting from the public around how helpful the information has been has been incredible and it's definitely a lesson that I think we're gonna take moving forward as we kind of come out of this.

 

Another factor I'd say that's definitely helped my team keep up steam is that we're fortunate off here at Employment Hero to have an employee share scheme. That means that every employee here does own a little bit of the business, so it's not just that they're working really hard to keep someone else's business afloat, they have skin in the game too and to be perfectly honest my team is definitely a team of overachievers so for me it's not about keeping the motivated to be more productive it's about forcing them to switch off. 

 

Alex

 

Yeah that's kind of been a challenge for me. Yeah, you definitely have a team of overachievers and they're doing amazing. 

 

Ok I think we might share those poll results which hopefully you guys are able to see. So we have 28% of people feeling that we might be heading down the road to burnout. There's 45 percent in the maybe bucket, so that means that you need to be really careful and take the advice Sam is giving around how she learned herself to not get burnt out. It's great that we have 27% of people saying that no they don't feel like they're going to burn out, so thank everyone for getting involved in that. 

 

So while we've been fortunate here in Australia not to have had a full lockdown, other countries have been a lot less fortunate and they've had full lock downs, but you know our stay-at-home recommendations have been strongly recommended. So the old age tale is it's lonely at the top. It's lonely being a manager and a leader and so you're often also buffering the stress of your team by being a manager. How have you coped with the feelings of isolation or even just a feeling that all you're doing is working during this period?

 

Sam

 

Yeah so I mean personally I do live alone. That is a blessing in some regards but then during this time of isolation it does mean that I'm going for really extended periods without actually having any physical contact or interaction with people, so I've found quite a few different ways to cope with that. Firstly that I needed to surrender to isolation and by that I mean that I think we lead such busy lives. Having to hop from one event to another all the time -  we’re so used to being busy and I'm kind of taking this as a lesson to learn how to slow down with COVID-19 in mind. The first few weeks I was like ‘I'm practicing self-care’, I'm doing all the right things and that was just me having cheese and wine for dinner every night. That was not sustainable and I kind of reminded myself of a few other habits that I'm trying to keep up. One is FaceTime -  I've set up a weekly facetime with my girlfriend's. We just kind of all sit down with our dinner and just chat kind of like we normally would catch up on the weekend for brunch. We've now moved up online. I've got a mate who sets up weekly trivia which is fantastic - there's about 20 - 30 people that log in and there's all different teams, so that's a really great thing. I'm fortunate enough that I've got a mentor as well - we catch up fairly regularly and talk through as another manager what other businesses are doing to copel.

 

For me, moving my body has been a really important part of this. I think sitting so much has impacted my body a lot and without even just walking to the bus stop or to the train or whatever it is, making sure I'm doing pilates and things like that. With all the online classes that are available. If there are any mighty boosh fans out there, they’ve started a digital art club.

 

I've started forcing myself to slow down. I've started to draw like practice drawing and things like that that I would have never really gotten the chance to do before, so I'm really just trying to dive into it. I also had a holiday planned at the end of March which got canceled which is really unfortunate, so I made sure that over that extended break over Easter I did take some time to just really chill out and do nothing. I've let my team know that whilst we can't take physical holidays right now, it's really important to still take a few days of leave here and there to recharge, even if you are just having a staycation. I think sometimes switching off from work is really important. 

 

Some other places I've been leaning in for support is obviously at work itself. Some of the 1:1’s that I've had have become less formal and then just more of a chance to catch up with my colleagues which has been really nice. I've also set up some time with other managers that I don't normally interact with just to get some advice from them how they've been leading their teams. The leadership team at Employment Hero has been really great at handing down advice and being really proactive in reminding everyone that EAP is available for anyone that is struggling because everyone deals with these things in different ways and more broadly. 

 

We've started a Slack channel and a Facebook community that's open to all HR managers or business owners or business leaders because we have recognized that it really is an isolating task I think running a business or heading up HR. Often you're working solo, and with everything that's going on right now you do need some support and some advice, so we've set up these community groups and if you haven't joined yet I do really encourage you to because there's some great advice going on in there. It's just really fantastic to see so many people supporting one another.

 

Alex

 

Awesome thanks Sam. I couldn't agree more with moving your body and the incidental exercise piece. I certainly found in my first two weeks I wasn't even getting out during the day and then before I would know it, the sun would be gone so there goes your vitamin D. 

 

We've been making sure that we're making a real effort to give people permission to go out during the day whether that's 11:00 am when they get a break in their calendar, at lunch time or in the afternoon just to make sure that they do. If it's a walk or a swim or whatever is passionate to them, just getting that exercising is so important. Just a reminder please throw any questions into the Q&A box and we will call those out as well. So saying what advice would you give for how you personally prioritize your time?

 

Sam

 

So I'm a really big advocate for productivity tools and within the marketing team we use one called Asana and I've dedicated a lot of time at the beginning of the year to planning out the entire year. We had 12 months of campaigns and events and everything all set up in there and then COVID-19 came along and kind of destroyed all of our plans. When we all started working from home we did try and use Asana, but I think both myself and my entire team found a bit depressing seeing all of these campaigns in there that we had planned that we could no longer run and so we've actually just reverted back to pen and paper in terms of prioritizing our days.

 

I actually use a bullet system called the Bullet Journal Method. It's by Ryder Carroll and I would highly recommend it to anyone that's struggling with prioritizing their day or forgetting tasks. It's really simple - you wouldn't think that you'd need help to take notes or to make a task list, but the method behind it really does help you reprioritize when you need to and for us at Employment Hero, we have goals within the Employment Hero platform. The OKRS, the objectives and key results that we have set up, really drive us with our prioritization and that's what I've been using. 

 

With the legislation changes that are constantly occurring and new announcements, we do have things that shift quite regularly and when a new task comes along or a new guide that we want to launch, it comes back to constantly referring to those goals that we have in the platform to see whether they do still fit in with the cascading goals for the business? If they don't fit in, then it's time to reshuffle and reprioritize what we're working on.

 

Alex

 

Yeah I love that. I personally find calendar blocking really really helpful myself. So that's how you help coach and guide your incredible team in managing their time and output because they just are doing so much and churning out so much on behalf of the company to support Australian businesses out there

 

Sam

 

Yeah, so we've kind of moved away from Asana temporarily. We've also, to cope with the increased demand on output and again if anyone's checked out our resource centre you've seen the amount of work that my little team is putting out at the moment. We've actively deprioritized things that don't have an immediate impact on the business right now. Things like detailed reporting. There are certain projects we're looking at - shifting from one tech stack to another things like that that don't have to happen right now. We've actively put on hold and we've given permission for a few projects to pause in this phase and I think it's important to understand that like our ‘business as usual’ has changed because it's not usual right now and I think we need to lean into that fact rather than push against it, which is something but it's actually it's working really well for us at the moment. 

 

Some team members been coping differently than others, for example one of my team member thrives in chaos and so leaving them alleviating them are things like they're reporting duties that they find really boring, can free them up to be really creative and solve problems in other areas that I didn't expect them to. But another team member who is used to having a lot of people around and loves that constant feedback, so it's been a little bit of a struggle for them but we just jump on slack calls whenever we need to. I think seeing someone's face is really important, but I think regardless of the style or the personality style of my team members, there's three things that we need to keep coming back to and that's how to focus, how to prioritize and how to communicate. They're things that we constantly work on, so like with myself with prioritization we use the Goals module with an Employment Hero. Deadlines are also really important one. I think sometimes people set tasks without  aligning when they actually need to be done by, so we were getting a lot stricter with deadlines and by stricter I don't necessarily mean sticking to the deadlines because in this environment things change at the drop of a hat, but letting someone know when a deadline might be missed and when it might be made up. Like I said, things change. Someone might also just be having an off day which happens in normal circumstances and has happened more so in this current climate and that's something that us as managers just need to allow for so that's kind of how we manage prioritization.

 

As far as communication goes in my team, we have a quick five minute virtual stand-up at the beginning of every day and again at the end every day. That's how we start and end our days. For me, we started that because we're so used to coming into the office in the morning and saying hi to everyone and obviously saying goodbye in the afternoon that we wanted to emulate that. As well in the mornings we hold each other accountable by letting each other know what our one key priority is for that day and commit to get to get done and then at the end of the day when we check in, we give an update of did we get it done, if not, why? What are the roadblocks, who needs help with what and also just for a general kind of chit chat and catch up.

 

Alex

 

That's great - love it. 

 

Before we move to some more general Q&A for everyone who's joined us this afternoon, I know in the first few weeks of working from home I personally found it really hard to switch off and create boundaries between work and life. I've set myself up in my dining room on the dining room table, literally taking over the entire dining room so it was just way too easy after dinner to immediately jump back on and log on, whether you were responding to Slack messages or emails. I found I was absolutely exhausted in those first couple of weeks, so what do you do make sure you log off ?

 

Sam

 

Yeah, I definitely feel that and definitely guilty of that. Also so again, getting a bit stricter with myself. I don't know how you kind of managed to adapt, but I found I need for me to practice sleep hygiene. There's certain physical things you can do to get your body in that kind of switch. What I've started doing is going for a quick walk in the morning before I start work and that's my brain switching on and saying ‘okay cool we're getting into work mode’ and then at the end of the day I also go for another little quick walk and that's my brain saying, ok ‘shut off’. I use that as a prompt for my mind to switch off, it’s also nice to get the body up and moving after sitting all day. I know the kind of nature of what we're doing and I'm sure business owners out there - I'm very much in a second same circumstance it's so hard to switch off just because it's all over your social media feeds. It's all over the news, no matter where you go. It’s really difficult to switch off  - there are the little things that I do, for example, I do use my computer actively for my social stuff as well when I have my wine time with my girlfriend's, so I need it for other things I do. When I finish work for the day, I completely shut down my computer, but before I do that I clear my desktop. I don't know if anyone else out there saves everything on their desktop like I do, but I shut down all the apps so when I do open it up again to check Facebook or the Zooms I catch up with my girlfriends, my Slack and my calendar isn't open. I try to switch the zone. What work for you,  Alex?

 

Alex

 

Yes - oh I'm still a little bit guilty. If a Slack comes through on my phone and it’s from someone in leadership or someone really urgently needing an answer, what I have tried to do is only have it on my phone and not go back and sit back at my computer once dinner is done. I'm not going to log on again. 

 

I do have plenty of time to get up early the next day and get out and go for a walk, whether it's at lunchtime or occasionally I'll whip out at 4:00 p.m knowing that I've still got a couple of hours to do when I get back from my walk. If I can just get out for 45 minutes while the sun is still up, it can just make a really big difference to get your body moving because you're really missing that incidental exercise with all of this work at home. I think we just fail to realize that, and doing yoga is great at home. Whatever you can find  - there are a lot of apps out there that can really help you. 

 

Sam

 

Yeah it's and that's definitely embracing the flexibility that we do have while we're working from home. If you can take two hours out in the middle of the day because it is sunny and go for a walk, and just add the hour on  at the end of the day. If you feel your workplace allows you to do that because it's really great I think we've really all embraced the flexibility that we've been afforded here at Employment Hero, it's made things so much easier. 

 

Alex

 

Absolutely and you know, put a lot of trust in your people as well. Don't be making sure they feel like they have to be online constantly. 

 

Sam

 

A question here is when do you think it’s appropriate to go back to business as usual? 

 

Alex

 

I think it's you know that's a really interesting question. My first piece of advice would be that we need to follow what the government has been recommending. They've done a phenomenal job quite obviously of doing all the research into guiding us where to go and this Friday is a real test as to whether we start to see outbreaks again. One of the things I would absolutely recommend is splitting your workforce into two or three groups when you do start to come back to the office, just in that horrible circumstance that we do have a second outbreak. That way you've got a group of people who wouldn't be infected or wouldn't have been into contact with people who are infected. I'd also make sure that you give psychological safety to employees if they're not comfortable using public transport and coming into the office. Make sure that you give them the permission to not feel like they're having to come back in because you're just adding to the stress. I also think as a trend it will be really really interesting. I think we will see a lot more people take advantage of one day working from home a week. Leaving early to go and do things that we've enjoyed doing, like picking up kids or going to a soccer game and just getting more involved in family life. This has been such a massive learning that we can work from anywhere and whilst we're missing the social interaction - the morning hellos, the chit chats in the hallway and in the kitchen, I do think that a lot more trust will be there from managers and management, which I think will be absolutely fantastic. 

 

Sam

 

Yeah I definitely agree with that. I know there's a couple of members of my team who are just loving being at home so much. Especially one of my guys, he's got a little two-year-old at home and he's just loving being around her and he'd be willing to work from home I think all the time. It's gonna be a really interesting shift when everyone does go back into the office now that expectations have changed around what flexible working looks, like so yeah it's gonna be gonna be very interesting.

 

Alex

 

Since you're a bit of an expert she would love to know how to use Asana or do you have any tips for a single operator? 

 

Sam

 

Yes, I actually also was using Asana personally for my personal life to do list. It's funny having read the bullet methodology - it actually applies really well to Asana and how you manage and reprioritize your tasks. I'd say it's definitely an excellent tool even as a single operator. There's probably less functionality that you need, like like your inbox and the collaboration tools, but in terms of task management setting up, I don't know what kind of business you're in Suzanne, but you know you can set repeating tasks which is super helpful. I there's certain things in your business that you need to do like chase up invoices every month, you can set up a task repeating to do that. That's definitely one that I would say is a great tip. 

 

Also the asana resources are pretty great, so I would jump online to their resource centre and if you have time at the moment to do a bit of upskilling because once you know how to use it it's a really powerful tool.

 

Alex

 

Right, we have on here from an anonymous attendee - how do you deal with an employee who is continually having off days and isn't coping so well with the working from home environment? So there's a couple of things, first and foremost, if you have an Employee Assistance Program it would be really great to offer that to this particular individual and to say to them you know, Alex you don't seem to be coping I can observe that you're not your normal self - please reach out to the Employee Assistance Program and talk to a professional who's a psychologist and someone who is completely confidential to help you through it. 

 

Now if you don't have the the privilege of having access to EAP, I would definitely reach out to that employee and ask them to switch on their video and give them the permission to break down if they need to and talk to you and say to them, you know I can tell you're not coping, what can I do to help you? Encourage them to talk to family to friends because they obviously are feeling really socially isolated and they need to get out there and start talking to people turning on their videos and also I'd really recommend when you do something to recognize them and reward them for that because sometimes it's that feeling of being needed has been lost for a lot of people because you're not in the workplace every day where your manager might say ‘hey Alex, thanks for doing a great job or you know you've you've turned out a lot today’. You're not having any of that verbal reinforcement at the end of the day or after you've completed a project or a task and that's really important for someone who you might have noticed is switching off and that's a really great observation that you've made as a manager. It's really important to be really mindful of that. When we're on video we can only see from here up, so you are using more energy to look at facial expressions and cues as to why someone might not be doing well and so it's absolutely worth pointing out to them that they're not doing well and it's okay to not be doing well. A lot of people out there aren't and they need to get help and if you don't have an EAP there's beyondblue and a lot of services out there that are free of charge. 

 

There's another great question here which is will you allow your team to stay working from home permanently if they want to once coronavirus has passed? Yes we will. We have just sent out a survey which we are going to send to all of our clients to get some more data points across Australia, however in the early stages of that. We've got a bit of a split between people who would absolutely love to work from home permanently and people who would like to do it on a regular basis, say once a week or once a fortnight or just when they're feeling like crap I want to be my sweatpants all day and I want to work from home. We know now that we have the tools that they can work from home and be productive the other thing and advantage that doing this is we can hire someone from anywhere. A really good example is we needed someone with New Zealand payroll experience and it took us a long time to hire that person. I was chatting with our CEO the other day and I said look if we have someone and the ability to work from home permanently, we could have hired that person in a week because they could have been in New Zealand and they could have worked from New Zealand without us having to have an office. 

 

Sam

 

We've actually had a marketing meeting this today around how else can we support our customers moving forward? We've done so much work around JobKeeper and dealing with that, but we realize that the next phase is going to be how do you kind of live in in that hybrid work environment where you might have half your employees working from home and half than the office. We're going to be looking at ways on how we can support that from a content angle in terms of running virtual meetings where you know you've got half half the team in an office meeting and then half of them online and how do you keep that engagement active across those mediums? So keep an eye out because we'll have some collateral for you soon.

 

Alex

 

Awesome. Someone asked what EAP we use and we use Acacia. We have had absolutely fantastic feedback from anyone who has used it and who has been willing to say that they have used it has really good feedback. Everything from work stress through to personal things like dealing with grief or relationship issues so we've had really really good feedback. 

 

Sam

 

Just some personal input from that you have the ability you can call them, you can email them, you can just give them a little brief about what it is that you think you're struggling with and they try and match you with the best person. It can be in your area if you if you're wanting to go in for a physical consult - obviously that's not happening as much at the moment,  but you know you can text you can add video chats. It's really great. I could not recommend it more highly.

 

Alex

 

Awesome, thanks Sam. Someone else here has asked ‘how do you pick up on signs that someone isn't coping when they don't want to turn their camera on?’. 

 

I'd say that is probably sign number one is not wanting to turn your camera on. I realize that some people don't like to have that face time, but it's really important that you encourage them to turn their camera on. They don't have to speak or be the absolute attention seeker in the meeting. Give them give them that assurance if they are they introverted, just say that everyone wants to see their face and that they will feel more connected by seeing other team members and the verbal signs that you'll pick up on our is if someone's not giving eye contact they're not looking at the camera they're looking really down or if you also notice that perhaps they're not in their routine of looking after themselves so personal hygiene, that's another sign that someone's really not coping well. If they don't have the ability to get up at the usual time, shower go for a walk and do what they might normally do.

 

Sam

 

I know personally amongst my group of friends, a lot of us kind of are in a similar normal office environment there's there's kind of a firm divide half of us have been doing video calls constantly with our colleagues and the difference in how energized we are at the moment and how much we feel like ‘yeah we could do this for a while’, versus some other people where they're doing voice only calls or they're just team's messaging on teams or emailing the difference is astounding with how much they really feel connected to their workplace right now I just could not encourage video contact enough.

 

Alex

 

Yeah I agree. Even one-on-one slack calling, something that might in an email or even over text or Slack take 20 minutes, you can solve in five minutes if you just quickly pick up the call. We've had a lot of team members who have really pivoted from not using Slack video at all to using it a lot to just call someone and solve an issue or get an answer to a problem straight away. 

 

There's a big kudos here Sam to you and your marketing team from Melissa Stanton saying that you've pivoted so well and you've just done an incredible job as a marketing team and Melissa I couldn't agree more. You know we are all so proud of the marketing team and where they've taken us and our ability to support Australian small to medium businesses. It really has been a thrill to be part of and to watch the team just do so well. Congratulations to Sam and the team.

 

Thanks Alex, thanks Melissa. Much appreciated. Are there any more questions? We might just give it another 30 seconds or so to let any final questions come in.

 

Here we go Alex, I'll kick this one to you - are there any fun activities that can be done between team members using zoom or Microsoft teams that you have used or aware of ie online bingo or something along those lines (work appropriate of course).

 

Alex

 

Yeah you do want work appropriate because if you're going to play cards against humanity you may offend some people. Although you know I wouldn't rule that out, it just means you need to be upfront and say this may offend some people, please know what you're joining. 

 

We have actually set up daily virtual chit chats which is permission for anyone to dial in at 5 p.m. and just have a chat sometimes people will shop with a glass of wine and that is intended to give that social connection and we tend to see people from smaller teams join those particular chit chats and that is to allow people to just drop in. Some people drop into 5 minutes some people stay on for 20 minutes to a half an hour and that really gives them the permission to have that social interaction and sometimes also away from their own team that they may have been interacting with all day. There are other tools out there on Xbox for example we're doing a Wheel of Fortune game this Friday afternoon, so there's a lot out there if you just do some searches there's tons and tons of tools. Trivia is another really good one and yeah I'd recommend absolutely using them. Sam I think you'd have some recommendations from a personal perspective as well?

 

Sam

 

Yeah I think I guess one of the other ones I'll call out that we do it with Employment Hero is for our we do an all-hands every Friday which if you don't if you don't practice that at your work, again cannot recommend highly enough. It's where the entire company essentially log on for a zoom meeting we get an update from our CEO, different departments might give a bit of an update of what they've been working on, we had these before COVID-19, but now in this kind of work from home COVID-19 environment, they have been more important because it is a way to help keep abreast of what all the other departments are doing. Where we're heading as a company and to lighten the mood of those. They've mainly been themed you know, we've had silly hats, we've had dress as your favorite rock star, just little fun things to keep them engaging. Off the back of those as well we used to have our Friday drinks in in office, so we now following our All Hands meeting, we have a digital Fri-YAY as well along the line that virtual chit chat. Yeah they're definitely some of the ones that the team have been doing yeah and I think they've worked really well. 

 

Alex

 

Here's another question, I feel like I'm spending my entire day on video calls whereas in the office, I had very few meetings. Any suggestions to stop the obsession at my work with these?

 

I think there are actually a lot of articles out there about Zoom fatigue and video fatigue because it does take a lot of energy to be on these calls and be fully present whereas in a meeting you might be multitasking a little bit and I think the some companies they do feel that they have more control if they're constantly having the video chats so my recommendation would be to really empower yourself to question whether you need to attend each and every video call that you're invited to. Now if you're going to say no to one, make sure you give a reason and follow up with someone who's perhaps been on the call and a good example of that is we tend to have a lot of collaboration between teams, and now we might have one representative from a product team attend another team meeting and then give a readout to the team after, so that you're not using all your resources all the time on all different video calls. I don't know if you've got any advice Sam on that one?

 

Sam

 

No, probably not beyond what you've said depending on your situation, you might be able to have a representative from your team if you if you don't feel the need to attend yourself and get them to report back. It also is a good way I guess to empower a member of your team to step up into a role with a bit more responsibility than what they used to. Another option might be, if it is something that you kind of feel you have to attend but you do need to multitask is turn your video off so you can do a little bit of work at the same time, but yeah I think as Alex said, question whether you actually need to attend and what the reason is behind all of the new meetings

 

Alex

 

Right well it looks like that's it for questions unless anyone wants to raise their hands and be muted. I'll just say over to that tune. I think we're good, thank you everyone for attending. We do have one one for upskilling your team - recommendations for productivity skills training please? It's becoming more evident that some people have been overlooked when it comes to tech skills and capabilities to work from home. 

 

Yeah that's a fantastic question, Loretta. I would either see if you've got some subject matter experts within your team that could do some lunch and learn lessons and some really good examples there are how do you use Slack effectively, how do you use Microsoft teams effectively, how do you use Meetup effectively, how do you use Zoom video effectively, and just hold those lunch & Learn sessions as a drop-in or you could do it at 10:00 a.m. in the morning, whatever time suits but just put the call out there for some people who you know I really are effective and efficient at doing it and holding those trainings for people to drop in and you'll be surprised. There will be people who will absolutely drop in, I do know a lot of people who aren't tech savvy have struggled with the work from home and unmuting videos on Zoom for example is a really good one, so just giving them the permission to say ‘hey I'm not great at technology and I would love to dial into this skill session during a lunch and learn’.

 

Sam

 

Yeah on that, I would also say that really try and break down the benefits of the tech that you're using at the moment. I don't know if there might be a reason why they haven't learned perhaps as an unwillingness there, and if there is an unwillingness it's probably because they don't see the benefit so make sure you're doing your best to really let them know why you're using those particular tools and how it can help them.

 

Just to give a little real-world example, my mum who is almost 70 is the youngest person in her Rotary Club and she spent two or three hours teaching everyone in her Rotary Club how to use zoom and it's being great. The people that have been able to adopt it have absolutely loved it they can log in for their weekly rotary meetings now and they feel so much more empowered now that they have that skill, especially because they can use that skill now to speak with their friends and family, so definitely, definitely do what you can.



Alex

 

So we had a question - here any recommendations for a leader who wants to monitor and track work from home employees with screen monitoring? I would say I absolutely discourage a leader who wants to do that. You're not showing any trust in your employees whatsoever. Use something like goals or OKRs, where you are tracking someone's output and you're putting full trust in them to deliver what they're going to deliver and there's one more question here, how should I organize going back to work with a staggered approach when we all had to take our monitors and set up at home?

 

That's a great one that would be surprised if that’s Esther, our office manager. So we're in the same situation where pretty much everyone has taken home their second monitor, their laptop all of the various connections required to hook in, so I think that's going to have to be a discussion amongst leadership where people make a decision as to perhaps doing hot desks at the office. This is where anyone can use them and you're getting extra cleaning done on those hot desks. This means that people can still keep their setup at home to keep them effective and efficient at home and comfortable and ergonomically. But then when you go into the office, you've got that hot desk set up where you've got your monitors there and people only need to bring them laptops. 

 

Great well I think we're pretty much out of time. We've got one more. Do you think this has changed the way we will work forever? I absolutely do. I don't know if you agree Sam but I think it has. I think we'll have a lot more people again taking up on work to work from home at least one day a week and I think a lot of people have found the family time that they've gotten back, they've realized that they can get their job done yet they can do drop-off or they can spend an extra hour helping the kids out with schoolwork and homework and they've really thoroughly enjoyed that.

 

Sam

 

Even as someone who doesn’t have a partner or kids, the time that I've saved just on the commute -  I get almost three hours back in my day and it's just it's been incredible and I would absolutely love to continue to work from home more regularly and I'd be surprised if there aren't a lot of people out there that feel that way and yeah we're definitely in the camp of Employment Hero that this is going to be a semi permanent shift.

 

Obviously everyone's still going to return to work they're kind of in a new way which is why when we did pivot of our product direction, we did it not just to solve for the next three months as everyone is kind of forced to work from home, but knowing that that's where the future is enabling our product to be - a lot more remote friendly and serve a solution for that remote workforce is really where we're heading

 

Alex

 

Awesome, well thank you so much Sam. Thanks for being so honest and so vulnerable in all of your answers. I hope that all of our attendees have really enjoyed this afternoon's session. Please if you have any follow-up questions send them through and we will endeavor to get back to you. Thanks Sam it's been really really great.

 

Sam

 

Thanks and don't forget to join our Slack and our Facebook communities. You'll find links in our resource hub on the website. Thanks everyone. Have a great afternoon.