Published in full on Forbes.com, CEO Brian Pallas shares how a focus on flexibility and digitalization has kept Opportunity Network connected and productive during this crisis.
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Over the past month, the world has undergone a digital revolution en masse. In this regard, my company has been lucky. A digital organization to our core, our company culture and structure have been set up from the start to be as flexible as possible.
Today, our prioritization of flexibility and digital integration has been key in adapting to the COVID-19 crisis. We have been able to not only keep our operations running but actually increase our employee productivity.
With our employees residing in 40+ countries worldwide and the members on our platform representing 130+ countries, it would be impossible to stay connected without flexible and digitally integrated systems.
Create flexibility at the office and at home
For us, the focus on flexibility and digital integration extends both on and offline.
Our open-plan office space was designed with the intention of employees moving around. One might start their day in one of our meeting rooms, followed by work at their desk, and then move to a breakout table or the couch area for more comfortable work, or one of the solo work booths for a more focused atmosphere.
To support this kind of adaptable workflow, all of our employees use laptops instead of desktop computers. We’ve also integrated digital communication tools such as Trello, Slack and G Suite, which make it possible for our teams to stay connected from wherever they are.
Functional capabilities aside, this flexible system only works because we trust our employees.
As our People Director, Rory Kavanagh, said “No one is checking if you’re at your desk at 9:00 am. It’s up to you to structure your day in a way that allows you to do your best work.”
For those of us who are ex-pats, this flexibility and trust also enable us to work remotely from home over the Christmas period or other holidays.
When the threat of COVID-19 emerged in the UK and Spain, where most of our people are based, we were in the fortunate position of being able to continue supporting our employees, and our clients, from the safety of our homes.
That isn’t to say that our current situation is simply status quo. We’ve never done remote work on this scale. In addition, this isn’t the happy situation of remote work over the Christmas holidays. Our company, our clients and the rest of the world are trying to adapt to a global pandemic and an increasingly unstable economy.
Combatting the Stress of Pandemic
“We’re not working from home. We’re at home during a crisis, trying our very best to work.”
With this in mind, we’ve enabled each team to set up a workflow that works best for them. Our marketing team, for example, starts and ends each day with a video call. Going over their planned tasks, sharing achievements, and coordinating support from other team members ensures that they’re consistently touching base.
Our account management team has “hot topic” videoconferences, where any team member can raise a challenge they are facing, and the rest of the team suggests quick solutions or workarounds.
The operations team has even created daily meetings specifically to talk about anything but business.
Our teams have also created company-wide activities throughout the week. These include “Catch-up coffee hour” on Monday mornings, a workout session on Thursday afternoons, and after-work drinks on Friday afternoons. Occasionally, our tech team even organizes a live gaming session. Over the past month, these kinds of activities have kept us connected to one another, in turn keeping our communication strong and our productivity high.
Is Remote Work the Way of the Future?
For many companies, the shift to remote work has been a big one. Many are wondering if workers will ever go back to the office. Having now experienced the benefits of telecommuting, it will be difficult to put that genie back in the bottle.
But while it’s certain that the crisis will have lasting effects on both business and daily life, I don’t believe that there will be a sudden universal shift to remote work. Here at Opportunity Network, we’re certainly excited to get back to our office, our communal lunch breaks, and, most importantly, our beloved office ping-pong table.
CEO & Founder of Opportunity Network
Brian Pallas is CEO and Founder of Opportunity Network, the invitation-only platform that enables highly-screened CEOs and decision-makers to connect on business deals.
Before Opportunity Network, Brian worked at the Boston Consulting Group (“BCG”), a global top management consulting firm. He worked in Private Equity for three different funds and managed the sales process of two companies as an Investment Banking.