Moa Wirde from Convosphere talks about how it is addressing the challenges raised by working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are asking some of the most progressive employers how they are adapting to the challenges presented by the coronavirus lockdown. Social listening company Convosphere was highly commended in workingmums.co.uk’s most recent Top Employer Awards. Senior analyst Moa Wirde outlines below how it is responding to some of the challenges posed by COVID-19.
workingmums.co.uk: Are you are continuing to recruit how are you doing this and how are you onboarding new recruits?
Moa Wirde: We are still recruiting and have replaced face-to-face interviews with Zoom. We are a relatively small core team (18 people) spread across seven countries, so we are already very familiar with the tech that makes remote work possible. When it comes to the onboarding process, we will use Zoom and Skype to make sure our new team members can meet everyone in the team and settle in.
wms: Are you offering any extra support to people working from home who are trying to do so while managing caring responsibilities and if so, what or is it business as normal?
MW: Convosphere’s co-founders Jackie and Paul were both parents of young children when the business was launched, so working from home practices have been natural right from the start. Usually, most of the team members go into the local offices at least two or three days a week – it’s rare that anyone works from home Monday to Friday. Now we all work from home, and those who are parents of school-aged children face the extra burden of caring for them and supporting their learning at home. Flexibility has always been at the core of our business, and it’s now proving a great asset: we are all used to being creative with our schedules to find the right life-work balance while meeting clients’ needs. We have an open dialogue with all our team members to ensure they feel comfortable to communicate any concerns regarding availability, for example, reduced or compressed hours.
wms: How are you supporting employees’ with mental health issues arising from the current situation?
MW: We invite any employee struggling to cope with the situation to speak to us directly. We also have a third-party HR contact in place for anyone who needs additional support or someone to talk to about work/life issues. We’ve also encouraged the team to visit specialist sites that can help answer general questions and ease any anxiety or concerns.
wms: How have you adapted your communications processes to support employees working remotely?
MW: Since a large part of our team works remotely as standard, we’ve not had to make any big changes. However, we have introduced two new weekly virtual meet-ups on Zoom to help the team keep socially connected: a lunch catch-up (or dinner for our Asia-based team members) on Wednesdays and a Team Night In on Fridays for our Europe-based team.
wms: What are the main challenges you are finding with adapting to all the changes?
MW: Overall, it’s working very well. The main challenge is that we all miss the social aspect of coming into the office and seeing each other face-to-face. As our clients are working from home as well, the web meeting format is now standard, but it helps with most clients we’ve already met in-person and built up a rapport with. Given we are all on web-meetings with clients, technology itself can cause problems, as people struggle with internet connections, web meeting platforms and background noise. However, given we’re used to working from home, we’re all in this together and those challenges help further familiarity and camaraderie with our clients.
wms: Have you furloughed any workers? If so, how easy has that process been and how are you continuing to keep in touch with them?
MW: Luckily, we are busier than ever with social listening being much in demand right now and have not had to do this. Many traditional research projects, like qualitative in-person interviews, focus groups and panels have moved to social listening research projects.
wms: Are you yet thinking long term about preparing from the transition back to normal working and how you support that?
MW: Most of the team have not had to significantly change their working practices so this is less of an issue for us. We will be able to draw on the experiences of our global team to share tips and support. For example, our China country manager spent four weeks in lockdown from January 23rd, but has now transitioned back to normal working.