On March 9, as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic grew clear, we made a plan to close Homes.com’s four locations. We had a week to prepare 40% of our staff to work from home full-time.
That meant making sure they had all necessary equipment and access to any training they’d need on using that gear and remote work applications.
Gearing up for WFH
We immediately got our orders in for 165 laptops, computer bags and headsets.
Moving fast was critical – our regular vendor only had 3 in stock and we had to find an alternative. And right after we placed our order, that supplier increased prices by 62%!
Coordination between teams, hands-on laptop configuration and drive-through pickup at four locations across the country got everyone geared up to work from home in about a week. It was a huge effort, but providing equipment was only the beginning.
We knew that prolonged remote work was going to be a big change, even for our remote veterans.
With schools and daycares closed, employees with kids are working and parenting simultaneously, many for the first time.
To make sure managers were ready to support their work from home teams as they adjusted, we established guidelines for appropriate accountability and performance measurements.
We continually ask our employees what they need: tips on working from home with small children or suggestions for folks having trouble sleeping and helpful advice for other issues that come up.
We’re delivering a wide variety of resources – virtual panel discussions, timely articles via email, video recordings from senior leadership, virtual yoga sessions, engaging internal Facebook posts and more.
To maintain employee engagement, everything is accessible from anywhere and anytime on a new internal website.
Under the Business to Employee Communication and Advocacy Plan we created in the first week, company leadership and external subject matter experts provide daily information sessions aimed at inspiring and unifying us as we deal with the uncertainties of the pandemic.
To help everyone cope and adjust, we emphasize treating everyone with grace and empathy.
We’re sharing the videos from leadership and outside experts, we’ve hosted virtual birthday parties and held webcam happy hours.
And we’re encouraging employees to photograph their workspaces and post to our internal social media groups using the hashtag, #WorkFromHomes.
Of course, we’ll continue adjusting our processes and benefits. What won’t change is our dedication to our employees and their well-being.
As leaders, we must remember our actions create the picture of us that others see. When they look at you, do they see a people-first organization?
Our philosophy should shape policy, not the other way around.
We must lead with humanity; after all, people are the “why” of everything we do.
(David Mele, President, Homes.com, Norfolk, VA)