The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic caused many team members to experience distress and anxiety in response to the sudden changes occurring in all aspects of their lives, such as the need to home-school, their employment security, and ensuring the safety of their at-risk family members.
When Covid-19 developed into a global pandemic, we quickly created space for our employees to communicate their true feelings in daily internal town halls as a vehicle of work/life integration. This is based on our belief that inclusivity means empowering people to be their “whole selves” at work, rather than leaving parts of their identity and experience at the door. Our employees work 100% remotely and it is nearly impossible to avoid the merging of work and life. We choose to embrace this merging instead of trying to avoid it.
We start every internal town hall with a “four line-check-in”.
There are four steps to this exercise:
There are no steps taken to “fix” the feelings. They are just acknowledged, and everyone is given the space to simply have them.
The internal town halls are also used to communicate updates on key initiatives and to conduct bi-weekly session with our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. This contributes to a sense of transparency and security, as everyone can opt to join and hear the updates in real-time or refer to recordings of the updates at their leisure.
Our employees learned that they do not have to wear armor at work or hide their true emotional state. During our town halls we learned a lot about each other, and as people became more comfortable with the format and learned to trust that their experience would not be judged, they became more willing to be vulnerable. We also learned that we had a safe space in which we could share experiences and feelings honestly, and team members consistently reach out to one another to show support.
Following the murder of George Floyd, the town halls provided a space in which we could share our feelings and work through them together as a company. During Pride month some employees got the chance to share their coming-out stories. Vulnerability is seen as a strength, not a weakness. The team is there for each member and open for feedback and suggestions to improve our work/life integration efforts.