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We’re in the last week of April and things have calmed down since the drastic move to widespread remote work for the majority of non-essential workers around the world. People leaders woke up to big decisions as the reality of a virus, that was until then relevant to a little-known city China, was eminently and quickly making its rounds for a potentially catastrophic impact on the entire world. 

In early March, employees were in the office one day only to be told a few days later that their office was being shut down and mandatory WFH ordinances were being placed. As the heartbeats of the workplace, people leaders had to quickly adjust to a “new normal” adjusting their organizational policies and implementing new ones to accommodate employee needs.

This week we interviewed Tyler Lares, Senior People and Culture Coordinator at BetterCloud. For Tyler, some things had to continue business as usual as he adjusted to both COVID-19 implications for his organization and also leadership as two colleagues left for maternity leave that was planned pre-COVID-19. In his interview, we’ll learn how he adjusted and helped create community for his organization. 

As a people leader, how has your role changed, if at all, to meet the needs of a fully remote organization?

I’ve found myself in a doubly weird situation recently with everything going on in terms of my role within BetterCloud. With COVID-19 hitting the states being enough of a shock to the system, both of my bosses are currently on maternity leave! But the work doesn’t stop, even with reduced numbers. With this state of remoteness, the first thing I aimed to focus on, perhaps more heavily than normal, was the emotional wellbeing of my colleagues. We’re living in a scary moment – one that they’ll write books about one day. It’s not easy, but I’ve had great coaching over the years that’s led me to focus on a fundamental aspect of Human Resources: empathy. My current approach to each meeting, 1:1, or venting session is allowing the space for an employee to express their emotions, whether positive or negative, in a judgment-free zone. HR professionals are compliance and employee relations wizzes, but right now we also have to be full-time crisis management professionals. It’s a shift that’s definitely been an eye-opener for me in my career growth. 

HR Professionals are compliance and employee relations wizzes, but right now we also have to be full-time crisis management professionals.

What are some key things you are doing to maintain a sense of community for your organization?

One thing that’s always made BetterCloud stand out is our culture. While working here, I’ve made some of my closest friends in New York City, and that’s partially by design. We’re a place of supportive, emotionally intelligent people, and that’s one thing I think everyone at my company rallied behind when COVID-19 hit. We do virtual happy hours, trivia nights, book clubs, and movie watch parties. We’re all so used to just being together, that those little events make all the difference for everyone’s mental health and morale. So much of what companies do in person can be done remotely with a little elbow grease. You can still reap the benefits.

Do you think widespread remote work is here to stay? 

I think this has been a shock to the system, so, my short answer is “yes – in some form.” I do believe that full-time remote work just won’t cut it for some companies and company cultures, but this has led, I think, all business professionals, whether in the people space or not, to ponder on productivity, feasibility, and a desire for remote work. One thing that we have to remind ourselves is that there won’t ever be a true “going back to normal” moment. Our lives will be irrevocably changed from this virus, and focusing on that will be a great starting point for companies wondering about their own policies on remote work.  

One thing that we have to remind ourselves is that there won’t ever be a true “going back to normal” moment. Our lives will be irrevocably changed from this virus…

What is your personal favorite new work from home rituals?

I’m a Florida boy living in New York City during one of those famous cold and dreary springs, so I’ve been loving taking advantage of a sunny, slightly warmer day and sitting out on the back patio to get some Vitamin D. 

That’s a wrap for this week. Next in our series, we’ll be chatting with people leaders at companies including Masterclass and ThoughtWorks. In the meantime, explore how Five to Nine enables people leaders to manage, organize, and evaluate the impact of their employee programs all in one platform. Find out how we’re helping companies manage employee experience through a pandemic, schedule some time to chat here.