As the government teases us with the gradual but ever-increasing relaxation of lockdown rules, we have been discussing what this really means for us here at Capital on Tap. Whilst the situation has certainly brought its challenges, many of us are getting used to some of the comforts of working from home (has anyone grumbled about missing their rush-hour commute?!) and invariably we need to ask what is the future of our workplace. Do we want, or even need, an office moving forward?

We turned to a company-wide survey and uncovered a resounding “yes”.

Like many companies, we feel a strong sense of community and culture - everyone here is committed to maintaining an environment where we share ideas, support each other, and celebrate our successes, and of course where we can have fun! For us that works well when we’re remote but best when we’re physically together. That said, we’ve grown fond of some of the new ways of working with which we responded to lockdown and when we are eventually allowed back into the office, we don’t want to forget these lockdown learnings. This time last year we were all based on one floor of a London office; now we have a physical presence in Cardiff and Madrid as well. Lockdown has presented us with an opportunity to reflect on how we can maintain our culture as we expand and we would love to share how we adapted to the changing working environment. So here’s a list of things we found worked well in lockdown which, for the most part, we want to bring forward into our post-lockdown life.

 

Communication Communication Communication:  

  • Town Halls: Before lockdown, we held monthly Town Hall meetings to share business updates, celebrate milestones and achievements and allow a platform for the team to ask questions of the Senior Management Team. Shortly after the lockdown was enforced we asked the team to share their thoughts on how they were feeling. The overall sentiment was that people didn’t feel as connected to the business’s mission and goals and they felt they knew less about what other teams were doing across the business (there’s no possibility of bumping into someone from another team when you’re sat in your own kitchen is there?). As a result, we switched it up and changed to a virtual weekly Townhall with each team providing an update of what their team is up to. These Town Halls are then followed up with update emails and more frequent realtime updates on Slack. 
  • Daily Standups: We introduced daily morning stand-ups for each team and management to check-in and align their goals daily. I think there’s a reason our IT team has been doing this for years - it works and we love it!
  • Innovative Product Updates: Our in-person product updates quickly changed to video walkthroughs of all new product features and releases. These land in peoples’ inboxes each week. 
  • Newsletter: We’ve created a one-stop-shop where people can keep up to date on things such as new joiners, lockdown makeovers and our favourite furry friends (we miss them so much). It’s full of photos, anecdotes, interviews and how-tos from people within the business. We now know how to grow lettuce and make a mean Moussaka. 

 

We focused on all aspects of wellness:

  • Manager Mental Health Training: As well as encouraging managers to have daily check-ins with their team we offered every manager mental health training with a trained psychologist. The sessions centred around teaching managers how to detect signs of stress, anxiety and other mental health concerns and the ways in which to discuss this with their team. 
  • WFH Budget: To ensure everyone was set up correctly when WFH we gave everyone a budget to improve their working space. Some bought better desk chairs, others bought 30 candles - each to their own!
  • Exercise: We signed up with ClassPass enabling everyone within the company to have access to online home workout videos to help people keep active - healthy body, healthy mind! 
  • Mental Health Awareness Week: We had a full week filled with activities, talks and other resources to help raise awareness of mental health and the different aspects of wellness that contribute to good mental health in the workplace. Each day had a theme such as physical wellness, mental health, sleep, and nutrition etc. Some of the highlights included a guided meditation session, an intro to CBT by a qualified therapist, and a group yoga session. 

 

We kept our fun culture alive by bringing ALL the virtual activities and much more: 

  • Events: Our ‘Happy Club’ organised tonnes of virtual events - we’ve enjoyed quizzes (original we know), bingo, cook-a-long sessions, games nights and much more. 
  • CoT Radio: We created our own radio with specific hours dedicated to different genres of music and even had a request hour. It’s a great way to stay connected knowing others across the business are listening to the same songs as you. We also included birthday and anniversary shoutouts!
  • Employee led groups: We’ve always had tonnes of clubs and groups but we especially promoted these across the teams and new ones have been cropping up everywhere - book club, in particular, has been a real hit (what else is there to do in lockdown?). 
  • Music Videos: We’ve even created our own music videos, showcasing some of the teams most unusual dancing styles (if you ask nicely we may even share them with you!)

 

It’s been a journey and we by no means got it right straight away. It took a lot of listening to our team to really find out what worked for us as a business - and we appreciate every business is different, it’s not a one size fits all thing! We just hope we’ve done our team proud and that they feel valued and supported - something they deserve for all their hard work and efforts.

 

Now it’s time to figure out how we return safely to our offices and to decide how we’ll operate as a collective team when this eventually happens. Whether we keep all or some of the above or scrap it all and think of some new better ideas, only time will tell. I think it’s going to be a huge learning curve for us, but we trust our team to act responsibly and we’ll be listening to them every step of the way. We’d love to know how you guys are starting to plan your return to the office, get in touch!