Connecting with our team while working remotely
With most organisations working from home for over a year now, many of us at IDA will say that we have managed to keep our organisation running quite smoothly, despite the many challenges of combining work with our lives at home during multiple lockdowns, whether based in Amsterdam, Mumbai or elsewhere around the world.
But one of the things that many of us have missed are the shared lunches, the celebrating of birthdays with teammates, the team outings and catching up with a co-worker at the coffee machine. The IDA culture and team spirit is a special one, so how have we tried to keep this going while working from home? And have some of our new employees (who joined us over the past year), been able to experience this in the working-from-home environment? In this blog, we reflect on a year of working remotely with some of our team members.
Ensuring everyone’s health and (physical and mental) well-being
COVID-19 meant that we went to working from home almost overnight. In the Netherlands, working from home was already embedded in our flexible working options, along with flexible working hours. As the whole team was already set up with laptops and working stations, they could take these home and set up their (ergonomic) home office quite easily. In Mumbai, this wasn’t yet the case, but our IT team managed to set this up in a matter of days. Aside from basic office needs, everyone was of course faced with many other challenges, whether it was (health) worries related to COVID-19, juggling homeschooling with work, or feeling isolated at home.
Our HR business partner Rheinhard shared how we tried to stay connected to everyone: “We wanted to make sure we could support our team as much as possible, and that they felt comfortable asking for support whether it was work-related or not. A key message is that everyone’s wellbeing was number 1. We realised this was a lot for everyone to deal with, and that work was not about doing your 8 hours, but doing what you can, in the situation you are in.”
To regularly check in on our team, we held (and still hold) quarterly wellbeing surveys amongst all staff and checked in personally to discuss potential solutions. Aside from that, we introduced several initiatives to support physical and mental wellbeing:
- To encourage our team to keep fit, we held weekly online yoga sessions and Bollywood dancing classes, hosted by our own team members
- We created IDA teams in sports apps such as Strava and Ommetje
- Instead of the free fruit in the office, we transferred these to credits for fruit packages sent to our employees’ homes (in the Netherlands)
- Colleagues that indicated they would benefit from social contact came into the office 1-2 days a week, following strict measures (only when the local measures allowed this)
- To encourage our team to take time off from work to recharge, IDA compensated additional holiday hours to be taken off during lockdown in May/June 2020
It was great to hear that our quarterly survey showed that employees felt supported by IDA and by their teammates.
Connecting with our team in a virtual setting
Our team members often indicate that the IDA culture is special, and that colleagues are often considered close friends - or even family. Connecting with our multicultural team is one of the aspects they value a lot at IDA. Switching to a remote setting was therefore a big change, and many of us missed seeing each other in the office on a daily basis. But similar to the quick transition we made to working in a remote setting, we also quickly found that a lot is possible virtually to stay connected to co-workers. A casual chat at the start and end of online meetings, virtual pub quizzes, Christmas lunches and drinks via Teams helped to make sure we kept in touch with everyone and made sure we don’t only discuss work. Even teambuilding activities such as Escape Rooms or Treasure Hunts can take place virtually and make sure we share fun and laughs together too.
Onboarding new colleagues
Joining an organisation during a pandemic is quite different from the average onboarding. From online interviews to meeting (most) colleagues online, the experience is completely different than in previous years.
We checked in with two colleagues who joined us in the past year, Lazaros and Helen. How have they experienced their first months at IDA - and have they managed to socialise with their new teammates yet?
Helen (joined IDA in August 2020): “It felt a bit strange when I arrived in the almost empty office for the first time. My team leader showed me around and we were able to meet a few of the colleagues from my team that day. I was lucky as we managed to arrange a socially distanced group event and I was able to meet everyone from my team that day. I don’t feel any difficulties to communicate with colleagues while working from home. We can hold our meetings, trainings, and fun activities online and therefore I am quite happy in this team – in fact I already recommended working for IDA to my friends.”
Our colleague Lazaros who joined in November 2020 also shared his experiences: “Moving from consumer goods into a pharmaceutical/social enterprise was a big change for me in terms of industry’s objective and organisational mission. Personally, the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the reasons I wanted to pursue a working experience that could have a strong impact on society, and shortly after this realisation I joined IDA Foundation’s family. I have to admit that I initially had doubts whether the onboarding would be smooth and successful remotely. But my colleagues and the management made it easier than it actually is. Trainings took place effectively, meet & greets and the whole introduction were more than sufficient to introduce me to the culture of this great foundation and its mission. I managed to meet all colleagues online, and luckily some of them also in person during a few days when I was able to visit the office. I would say that the home office does not provide the same cosiness and team spirit of being in the office with colleagues. Having not worked in an open office yet is something that I eagerly look forward to and I’m curious to see how this is when we will be back to “normal”. Until then, I will enjoy working remotely with my devoted colleagues for the strong cause of IDA Foundation, to make medicine accessible to any location in the world for the people in need. I could not be more proud about it!”
Looking forward, we are happy to see that this year of working remotely has also given many opportunities to connect online. Nonetheless, we of course hope that in the coming months, we also get to see (and meet) more of our colleagues in person in our offices.
Would you like to join IDA Foundation's team?
Like Lazaros and Helen, are you interested in joining our team? We have 3 vacancies at the moment! Check them out here.