We already had a lot of respect and trust for colleagues in the business. Even prior to the pandemic, we always had some level of remote working in the teams with most people taking a day or so each week to work from home. You could have as much flexibility as you needed on your working hours - whatever works for you, your family, and the team you’re with. The lockdown brought new challenges to this, and many other parts of working life, but Co-op Digital stepped up and it’s heart-warming to be a part of.
It’s ok to do what you need to do
When lockdown first came into effect, we published an It’s ok to blog post and website about working from home. The Co-op Digital team compiled a list of acceptable behaviour and ways of working to keep in mind over to future weeks. Some more serious things were mentioned like “It’s ok to juggle home-working and home-schooling” and “it’s ok to feel overwhelmed”. We also put in more fun ones like “it’s ok to be business up top and comfort down below”. I’ve never seen a team unify so quickly around this - it wasn’t just a blog post; it was a set of commandments that we all followed. And we still do even 3 months later.
Exploring new ways to collaborate
Recently some people have become maths and english teachers as well as Co-op Digital delivery managers. We’ve made sure that we record our show-and-tells and wider team meetings, so if someone is stuck figuring out long division then they can catch up another time. Our priority is respecting people's time. If you can’t make a meeting - don’t worry. We’ll re-arrange or make sure we catch up when it’s convenient. We’re constantly exploring new ways to collaborate on things without having to be on a call. We’ve also made meetings shorter and more focused, giving people more breaks in between to practice milk foam art or just have time away from the screen to reset.
Helping create a home office set up
Lots of the team didn’t have a home office set up, and the ironing board was quickly upgraded to a standing desk. We arranged for the equipment people needed to effectively work from home to be sent out to them. Keyboards, monitors, laptop stands, headsets - the lot.
When we do need to collaborate digitally, we’ve got great tools to do so. Our kudos channel on Slack is purely a shout out forum for great work or simply being there for someone. We’ve got mental wellbeing and remote working groups giving tips on everything from healthy breakfasts to different ways to manage your diary. Our Head of Tech Operations, Michaela, has a channel called ‘Michaela’s mind’ where she muses on things to help with burnout, painting, and podcast suggestions. Our pets channel is the busiest it’s ever been, with our furry companions appreciating us being around so much more.
Switching off from technology
Technology is amazing, but in times like this, it can be overwhelming. Notifications from Slack, Teams, email, WhatsApp’s from your mates, Zoom bingo invites…*cue head exploding*. So along with everything else we’re doing to help protect people’s mental health, we recommend colleagues turn notifications off and put “do not disturb” times in. It gives people time to think, go for an undisturbed walk, talk to their plants, clean the windows… it helps. Whatever working arrangements people need to be able to look after their family and themselves, we let them dictate that.
We’re constantly learning
I could talk a lot more about how amazing it is to work at Co-op Digital. We’ve got a group on Strava to help motivate people to exercise, and one of our executive leaders played the intro to ‘In the Air Tonight’ on the drums in one of our recent meetings. People have been kind and compassionate, and its broken down some of those hierarchical barriers. I can’t think of a better way that the Co-op Digital team culture has been showcased than by some of the things that we’ve done during lockdown. I’m genuinely proud to work for such an amazing company, and recently I’ve taken a step back to really appreciate it.