#30DaysRemote: Our CEO, HR & Admin Share Their Experiences Working Remotely

As a digital product agency, our work allows us to easily work from anywhere. Hence it took us very little time to switch to working remotely since the Covid-19 hit.

We started our #30DaysRemote campaign to share with other businesses how we are progressing with remote work over the 30-day experimental period.

Today, we had a conversation with some of our leaders: the CEO, HR and Admin. To understand how working remotely is disrupting their work and how they’re keeping up with managing the entire team.

Emelia Djanie and Melissa Kumah (From L to R)

Cast

  • Sena Amevor: Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Melissa Kumah: Human Resource Lead (HR)
  • Emelia Djanie: Administrative Executive (Admin)

How has your job changed after the transition to remote work?

Melissa: Basically, we know that the core duties of an HR involves some physical presence that includes talking to people and having impromptu meetings. I noticed that since we went remote, when I reach out to people during this time, like oh how is everything? The response is usually, “I’m fine”. And this is a response that people give even when they don’t mean it.

I have observed that in the remote environment you have to go the extra mile to make employees open up to you. Recently, I announced ‘Meet the HR’ a one-on-one session with me to address problems that employees are facing. I noticed that the staff were not scheduling appointments with me so I asked one of my colleagues who said to me that “it’s because we don’t have anything to say”. But I can bet if we were in the office, it would have been a more detailed response.

Sena: Well, going remote has its own positive and negative sides. I feel It has moved us to another step in life. Where we don’t need to worry about human management in the physical environment. Now, HR wouldn’t have to be concerned with physical appearance, attendance or settle petty disputes among employees. This has reduced the workload to make room for other pressing matters, which I’m happy about.

Another aspect is that I have become more responsive to the team, knowing that everyone is working remotely and would need my assistance. I have positioned myself to be present at all times for my staff.

Emelia: There has been a drastic change in my role as an Admin. Basically, my role has to do with procuring logistics for staff and managing the office space. In the early days of our remote work, I took the pressure to set all of our employees up with the resources needed to work remotely. I think that sacrifice at the beginning has made my work a bit easier now because I don’t receive so many complaints from colleagues.

What I mostly do now is to help resolve reported issues on laptops, internet and other things. So now, I’m more like a virtual assistant. I’m new to working remotely, so I’m still adjusting.

How have you adjusted your role to fit working remotely?

Melissa: The first two weeks were a bit difficult. I remember receiving a call from a staff member during my break time when I was in the market. I realized that I can’t get our staff to come to me when it is convenient for me but rather when it is convenient for them.

I figured that all I could do is to allow myself to be available to the team at all times. Working remotely allows you to multitask in a way that isn’t always possible in the office. So even though I was busy in the market I still made time for my colleague. I understand that the remote environment differs from the office setting therefore, I have also changed my strategy when it comes to how I meet with people. So if you want to call me as late as 7:00 p.m because that’s the time that’s convenient for you, I may have to make time for that.

Sena: I’m coming from a situation where I was already working remotely for payplux.com. So availing myself 24/7, for instance, is something that I am used to. So when it came to working remotely for QodeHub, it wasn’t difficult. My phone and other office communication tools like Slack and Basecamp are always active. I check my messages very often. So for me, I didn’t have to do much to get myself aligned with the whole new experience.

How do you uphold QodeHub’s team culture in the remote environment?

Melissa: When it comes to the culture of QodeHub, it’s a whole school where we keep learning and improving. We have managed to translate some things into the remote environment like our team daily stand-ups. I remember we wanted to host ‘happy hour’ (our end of month get-together) online but we haven’t figured out how best to do that yet. It’s still a work in progress for us. We have had some pitfalls.

However, fundamentally we haven’t swayed from the core of our culture. We only do them a little differently now. Our focus has switched from trying to copy and paste the office culture into the remote workplace. We’re now looking at it as an innovation, i.e. how can we best implement our culture regardless of the workplace: physical or remote.

Sena: Working in an office environment and working remotely are two different things. Trying to bring the office culture into the remote culture will not work. We cannot drag and drop things we did in the office into the remote environment, like working from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm as we do now. We cannot simply apply those things as time goes on. We decided to stick to working from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm from the onset because we were just transitioning from one environment to another and we needed a bridge to help us accomplish that.

Now, we’re making plans to change our working time, develop new policies and re-engineer the office culture into a more remote-friendly culture.

Due to Covid-19, we are not in normal times where everything is fine and dandy. As leaders, how are you helping your teams to be psychologically fit for work?

Emelia: The team is too excited about remote work for now and it’s too early for them to realise the impact of working remotely on their mental health. There are likely to be some issues sooner or later after employees start feeling that the chair at home is no longer comfortable or the weather is too hot and they are unable to adjust the temperature in their rooms. These could lead to frustrations which could potentially compromise their mental health.

For now, I have not encountered anyone with mental issues but we have always had avenues to address issues like these which I don’t think have changed because we are working from home.

Melissa: Our employees are loving this opportunity to work from home. I don’t see a surge in people complaining about, “oh, my goodness, I can’t do this anymore or I’m tired or I’m not feeling too well”. It might take time for psychological issues to crop up. However, we are prepared to help our staff in ways that support their psychological health.

To be continued.

This interview is a two-part series. Check out the second part here.

The interview was compiled by Enam Ami Agbozo (Content & Digital Marketing Team Lead) and Emmanuella Kwamee (Content Writer, QodeHub)

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