The world since coronavirus: adapting quickly to a fully remote environment

As a globally distributed company, we have the majority of our employees based in our hub offices (Tel Aviv, London, Boston, Ottawa), and about a quarter of our employee base entirely remote. As a result — in terms of culture, infrastructure, and processes — we are well set up for remote work. 

Adaptation is everything 

And yet, when the coronavirus pandemic exploded, we had to learn, react and adapt in a manner none of us had anticipated. Throughout this sudden crisis, I’ve been incredibly proud —  of our leadership, our People Team on the ground, and all our employees for coming together to respond as one. It reminds me of the quote often misattributed to Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

When news of the virus first broke, while some people were no doubt concerned, the pervasive sentiment across the company was one of skepticism. I mean, would it really affect us? Was it really anything more than the standard flu? Nevertheless, we pulled together our Pandemic Response framework, just in case, and shared it across the company so we could all be prepared. Also, in anticipation that this could lead to a longer-term Work From Home (WFH) situation, we pulled together guides for our employees and our managers for longer-term remote work setups. We realized early on that most companies were less prepared (or resourced) than we were, so we open-sourced the documents and shared them broadly as resources for others. If these are of help to you, please feel free to leverage them or share them with others. 

Guided by our values

We took a precautionary and conservative approach, driven by two imperatives. First and foremost, the safety of our snyker community was non-negotiable. In addition to this, we were equally conscious that we have a social responsibility to the society at large. Even if we were not fearful of risking our own health, we had a responsibility to help contain the spread through our actions. 

Moving quickly and decisively

As soon as the case volume hit our precautionary thresholds in each country, we started implementing the prescribed actions in each of our offices and instituted a company-wide travel ban. Last week, we closed our offices and mandated that all employees work from home. 

Some companies may find this excessive, or too conservative. We think differently. Our strategy is one of proactive, preventative containment through social distancing. We believe strongly that for any person or business where social distancing is an option, this is a social responsibility. 

Setting ourselves up for success

Even with our generally remote-friendly environment, we had to take several steps to set up for the quick transition to fully remote. 

  • We provided employees and managers guides on how to operate in an ongoing remote setup.
  • We set aside a technology budget in anticipation of equipment (headsets, monitors, etc) that employees may need.
  • Employees could leverage our pre-existing wellness fund for other wellness-related support eg ergonomic setup.
  • We knew upfront that continued social interaction (albeit remote) would be critical to all our wellbeing. For that reason, we set up spontaneous “water-cooler” opportunities for social interaction, for example, through slack channels, video calls, etc.

There have been many moments of doubt and debate through this process.. There were many unknowns and conflicting priorities. And only the future (weeks? months?) will reveal in hindsight how our decisions play out. But we live by our values — protecting our employees and living up to our responsibility in aiding containment at large.  And above all else, we have built new confidence in the ability of our team to anticipate thoughtfully, react quickly, and be incredibly agile in coming together as a community. 

A huge thanks to fully remote companies (e.g. Zapier, Gitlab) whose open source resources have been immeasurably helpful to us. We couldn’t have done this without them.