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Workplace Wellness Key To Amiqus

25 Nov 2020
Ewan Anderson

Who are Amiqus and Richie Stewart? 

I am Richie and I look after the people function at Amiqus. We are a 'tech-for-good' company based in Edinburgh. We've been in operation for five years now. We make encrypted and fully automated ID verification software for a number of professional services businesses such as lawyers, accountants and recruitment businesses. 

How to maintain your company culture

We were in a strong position in that we already had about a third of a business working remotely and we surveyed them to understand what worked and what didn't. We also spoke to other companies that worked remotely to get some thoughts on what they did. It was a number of small steps, nothing groundbreaking but lots of little actions. For instance, we have companywide meetings but we asked everyone to be on a video link, even if you were in the office. That way everyone gets the same experience. 

We also utilised a number of tools such as Slack and Zoom anyway, so people were already familiar with them. What is did, was it gave those who normally worked from the office more of an appreciation for remote working and the frustrations that they can experience. 

A big focus though is that information is available and communication is maintained and is clear. We have tried to pick up on providing reasoning behind decisions made. Whereas previously people would pick up information in the office, they now hear it from us directly. We use a project management tool called Notion that now doubles as a people page. This is where we explain decisions, there is information and details if they need help. 

We also created an emergency response team who would meet every morning to understand the changes in the COVID situation. That group would then decide on what needed communicating out if anything. 

We also did a lot on the social side. We did the quizzes that everyone did but I think people got a little fatigued with that. We also did cocktail making and we got a better turn up to that.

It is challenging and we understand that so we sent out an employee engagement survey and then a remote working survey to understand peoples thoughts on the process, get to know if there are difficulties people are facing.

How are you helping your team's wellbeing? 

Again, we had a lot of things already in place but we are fortunate that Lisa, our Marketing Manager, is a real mindfulness advocate and she has done a lot of training on that. She then approached us to ask if she could start a mindfulness programme within the company which was a great initiative for us. 

One of the things we did was, through Slack, there is a bot you can bolt on that will randomly assign teammates to have a coffee break with. This was really well received.

We've also been having weekly coffee breaks that have topics around current affairs where people can turn up and just chat it through. it is not compulsory, people can just drop in if they like. 

Lisa has also been hosting wellness Wednesdays, running a wellness workshop over lunch. She has also launched a wellness podcast. This was obviously quite a lot for Lisa to take on so we created a wellness committee too so there are a number of other people that can help. 

While not everything works or is well received, we are happy to give things a try and test it and see. 

Remote onboarding and distilling your values

We had two people join the team, one full time and one as an intern. The intern was based in Spain but for obvious reasons asked if she could work from home in Spain and it worked really well. It was a new experience, onboarding completely remote. 

To be fair to the two people who joined, they really grasped it and got involved. 

In terms of distilling our values, we have a standard pack that we send out which is normal. But we also have a poster that tells of '50 things it is okay to do', like, 'it is okay to finish early', 'it's okay to have a bad day' just to reassure people that there are things you can do and we don't have a rigid culture here.   

A big part of the successful integration of our values, however, comes down to our leadership. They really embody the values and make decisions based on them. We chat about them and make sure they are still relevant. If they are just words on a poster then they are not really much use. 

Finally, Presenteeism, is it dead? 

Well, I hope so because our software helps people work remotely so it makes a big difference to our business.

I think the need to have people in the office full time now though has gone. From speaking to a number of our clients who operate in the professional services sectors, many of whom were of the opinion that, people had to be in the office to prove they were working, that mindset has changed. Business has seen evidence of an increase in productivity. 

We have always had a very trusting culture and were confident in our recruitment. If you don't trust them to work from home then perhaps they are not right for your company. 

There will also be a kickback from the staff. They will ask why they need to sit on a bus or train for an hour when they could be working from home already.

I was quite apprehensive working from home as I was used to working in an office but I am now in a routine where I am considerably more productive and am enjoying the experience.  

Author

Ewan Anderson
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