The only constant is change

With COVID-19 accelerating the redesign of VIOOH’s people strategy and culture, we were proud to share our transformation journey at the In House Recruitment Expo. With our #1 Strategic Goal of being a Great Place to Work, evolving our Employee Value Proposition to adapt to the new normal was paramount. Explaining how we have created a hybrid workplace, we shared our approach on attracting and retaining great talent, and scaling the business at pace.

Against an uncertain backdrop in 2020, we considered ourselves very lucky to be able to continue to grow the team in-line with our global expansion. We welcomed 51 new employees, accounting for a 50% addition to our workforce in less than 12 months. Joining VIOOH across all levels and disciplines, we hired people from marketing and commercial through to engineering and product development. In addition, we expanded our global footprint, continuing our build out of our team in China and launching in the USA.

It has been a tumultuous year to say the least, and one that challenged every aspect of our life. Even with the spectre of a pandemic and other social and economic issues looming, we discovered that as a nimble and agile new business we can adapt quickly, the environment can heal, and we are resilient.

At VIOOH we made a decision in May to create a hybrid workplace to put psychological safety and employee experience at the heart of everything we do. We wanted to build out the right infrastructure, adapt our policies and how we operate to make sure we empowered all VIOOHers to thrive, regardless of location and support our global expansion by having a clear operating plan.

We also needed to take away the uncertainty to our working lives that had been brought by the pandemic. We wanted to change mindsets and lead from the front during the crisis. In short, we committed to walk the talk. 

We worked hard to change behaviours by collaborating across the wider team and encouraged every single person in the business to join us on our new journey. It started at the top with each of our Leaders embracing the change and getting behind the creation of our “Future VIOOH” programme.  We focussed our people activities around 4 key pillars of Your Health, Your Wealth, Your Growth and Your Happiness. We made the decision as a business that we needed to provide clear communication and consider that living in uncertainty could impact our people, their confidence and their ability to be effective. Providing the right direction, communication and visibility from the outset, allowed us to share clear cut guidance during uncertain times. 

Hybrid Working 

We kicked off our transition with a phased approach - and focussed on personalisation. We knew that all of our employee experiences were unique, from homeschooling and solo workers, to those impacted directly by COVID. We then developed a three point strategy outlining how we were going to support our employees remotely. This included: 

  1. Communication - we gave our employees clarity, we explained that we were working from home for the foreseeable future to support our employees to plan. If they had children, they were able to arrange their support bubble; if they lived on their own, they had the opportunity to go and stay with friends. 
  2. Clear guidance on the ever-changing information that we were being given. We provided our employees guidance on future planning and how to stay focused while working at home long-term. 
  3. We've begun transitioning into our hybrid blended approach to working which helped us all adapt to the new normal. This included supplying access to resources, reviewing and encouraging new initiatives such as speedy meetings, walking meetings, weekly company Stand Up meetings, monthly company All Hand meetings, twice weekly update emails from the CEO, all company Slack channels and early finishes on Fridays. We also consistently updated employees on our wellbeing resources - Employee Assistance Programme, subscription to a wellbeing app to drive their own resilience and a reminder of our healthcare packages that we have available. 

Driving an inclusive company culture 

By implementing this structure from the beginning, we continued to drive our positive company culture remotely and limited the impact to the social aspect of working at VIOOH. In addition, we launched VIOOH’s Diversity and Inclusion committee, helping to celebrate the diversity in our company, but also to enable a forum that can challenge and enable continuous improvement if necessary. From new hires and across longer term careers, at VIOOH we want to encourage equality and equal opportunities in all areas of business, especially around unconscious bias. 

Working in an environment where there is so much uncertainty meant we needed to work even harder to check in on our peers. At VIOOH, we strongly encouraged our employees to take time out of their day to have their usual coffee station breaks, get fresh air and take up the opportunity to host a walking meeting rather than being seated at your desk all day. 

We’ve started our journey on transforming into a flexible working company from hosting event sessions to raise awareness of inequality in the workplace, carrying out unconscious bias workshops, and encouraging hiring managers to hire on value-fit, not cultural fit. This also means, we’re being accountable. We’re looking back at our diversity and inclusion metrics, and using this to inform how we can change the way we work with each other. We have a long way to go - but we’re excited to see what lies ahead.

We are still in the midst of transformation - and it’s going well so far. In our recent Employee Engagement Survey, 90% of employees said more flexible arrangements increased morale and 80% were very or extremely confident that VIOOH has the right benefits and resources to support them during this pandemic. 

One thing for sure is that we don’t know what the future holds so you have to focus on what you can control and give your employees options - trust and empower them to do their best work regardless of location / unique circumstances.

Heraclitus famously said, ‘The only constant is change’. Covid-19 has pushed us to be agile, look at solutions and to be prepared for dealing with factors outside of our scope. Amid the chaos, there are reasons to be optimistic too - we have worked hard to develop our ‘change muscle’, build for the future and ensure every VIOOHer has been part of this evolution. 

For that, I am grateful and proud. I believe that coming through these challenging times will make our business even stronger than before. I’m looking forward to seeing all our efforts come to fruition during 2021. Watch this space...

Jane Mason is Chief People Officer at VIOOH. For more information visit: www.viooh.com