Putting our People First: How Candlefox Stays Connected in a Global Pandemic
In these uncertain times, we have been fortunate to stay more connected than ever before — our team growing and adapting to the new norm with every day that passes.
The COVID-19 lockdowns have been challenging; especially given that the bulk of our team resides here in Melbourne, Victoria.
The mental load, the struggles of juggling family and working from home, and the general feeling of fatigue have definitely set in after over six months of the same routine.
Despite this, sharing our experiences, communicating honestly, and upholding our company values has made this entire experience much more manageable.
We’re proud to have (almost) made it through the hardest part of 2020, and wanted to share some of the tips and tricks we’ve used to keep us united!
How do we communicate?
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom.
With a global team spanning across New Zealand and the UK, Candlefox is no stranger to Zoom, even before the pandemic set in. Broadband speeds and technical difficulties aside, like many, Zoom has been the most valuable tool that we’ve harnessed to help us communicate.
We’re now a little more intimate with our colleagues and their house pets, have seen deep into each other’s houses, and have waved hello to many kids making special appearances. All of this has made us more human to one another, and we’ve shared this lived experience together.
We’ve all asked if ‘you can see my screen’ while screen sharing, have then proceeded to share the wrong screen, and have inevitably heard someone say to us ‘You’re on mute!’
Quirky backgrounds and tech issues aside, as an online business, we’ve proved that we can operate triumphantly off the back of Zoom calls!
We always default to instant messaging over emails for internal comms.
Chatting over Slack is more conversational, it’s less disruptive than email, and it’s also less formal, meaning that any member of the business is available for a chat.
Our Slack channels provide our Foxes with a mixture of both work-oriented and recreational ways of communication. From channels that are project and team-specific to ones that supply the perfect WFH playlist, Netflix recommendations (do yourself a favour and watch The Bureau), games, fitness and the cutest pet photos — if there is something worth talking about, we’ve got a chat channel providing the goods.
While we spend more time on Slack and Zoom than we would if we were in the office, Slack was already our bread and butter before COVID. It has simply helped us overcome the challenges of working from home.
Slack is quick and effortless and helps us inject fun into our day to day lives. It has truly helped us stay connected throughout our time working from home, together.
Before COVID, we were avid users of whiteboards for brainstorming and jotting down workflows and ideas.
What we probably didn’t realise, however, is how the concept of a whiteboard, or ‘shared workspace’, could empower our leadership teams to completely re-adapt our product strategy and company direction over the past six months.
We use Mural to collaborate virtually on just about every project, idea, product or planning session within the business, across every team.
Mural is a ‘digital workspace for visual collaboration’, and we have spent countless hours brainstorming, voting on ideas and ‘road mapping’ our future within our virtual workspaces.
To say that Mural has had a profound impact on our organisation would be an understatement!
Technologies like Mural, Slack and Zoom have helped us adapt and have driven us to succeed while we change our style of working.
We WILL get through this, and we’ll do it together. We are all there for one another, and the company is there for all of us.
I encourage you to keep communication levels high, ask how your peers are going, offer your help. If we all do that for each other, it will help us all pull through.
Zig van der Sluys
Upholding our Values
Our experience is not unique, but as a company, our values are our own. We’ve been more determined than ever to live by these words during the pandemic.
Hungry Like the Fox
If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing amazingly
Get stuff done, have some fun
TGIM – (Thank God it’s Monday)
When every day can feel the same in COVID lockdowns, we appreciate Mondays even more than we did before!
This change of scenery has made us a closer team. We feel like a family, and find it rewarding to see our colleagues each day — especially on Mondays!
We’ve weathered the ups and downs of COVID together, the wines over Zoom, the monotony of being stuck inside during Winter, the jigsaw puzzles, the paint by numbers and many other pursuits. And we’re more united than before.
Hungry like the Fox
We’ve used COVID to really test out our team’s abilities and expertise, and have successfully launched two of our most significant projects to date while working remotely.
It’s been challenging at times, but it’s made us more resilient and determined to succeed.
If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing amazingly
Working remotely has made us question the ‘why’ and the ‘how’, which is one of the reasons we’ve committed ourselves to revisit and rehaul our internal processes, even when we can’t do this face to face.
Given that education and the industry as a whole is such an essential part of economic recovery, we’re 100% committed to doing the very best by our partners and continuing to empower our users.
Get things done, have some fun
If you’ve seen our company culture video, you would know that we don’t take celebrating lightly, and like to fully celebrate our wins.
Our collaboration is at an all-time high. The company is continuing to grow from strength to strength, and we are itching to get out and celebrate with each other.
In the meantime, we’ve made do with our own sorts of celebrations. We play trivia, spend a lot of time sharing our guilty lockdown pleasures, and we spend a fair chunk of time in meetings catching up and sharing stories. We work hard, but still thoroughly enjoy having fun once we’ve set out what we wanted to achieve.
While we can still drink with each other virtually on Zoom, we have promised ourselves some pretty substantial celebrations once we’re back in the real world.
Keeping a Sense of Normality
It’s hard to keep a sense of normality when nothing seems normal, but our leadership team has eased the COVID blues; helping boost morale at every turn.
New hires have been welcomed into the fold as they would on any typical day, albeit over Zoom, with catch ups across the whole team, and just about every single person in the business. Anyone new to the team still has a slow and steady introduction to the company, and are given all the time that they need to soak it all in.
Each month, we have continued to crown a ‘Fox of the Month’ to someone who lives and breathes our company values and has made an outstanding contribution to the team.
We’ve also enjoyed treats and gifts that have arrived on our doorstep, from personalised biscuits, pamper packs, Candlefox branded face masks, as well as UberEats vouchers.
With a focus on emotional health and wellbeing, we also have a confidential counselling and support service to help employees deal with personal or work-related difficulties in a positive way.
Our weekly meditation sessions help the team unwind, as well as twice-weekly alkaline breathing sessions, a breathing technique that is said to help you gain more energy, lower stress levels and help improve your immune system.
And because lockdowns are exhausting, we all enjoyed a ‘Fox Day Off’ earlier in the year — a day to take the pressure off and enjoy some time away from our home offices to decompress, relax, and take it easy.
As we slowly move back towards normality, we’ll continue to breed a people-first business culture, putting our employees’ health and wellbeing at the forefront of everything that we do.
In the meantime, you’ll find us on another Zoom call!