When the Covid-19 crisis forced everyone to pivot and adapt to working from home, Course Hero’s executive leadership reached out to employees to show our concern and support. And now, we want to share how we’ve been supporting our teams during the transition to working remotely.
As always, we invest in the people who work here and make sure they are set up for personal and professional success. We want them to feel engaged, productive, and valued. After the shift to working from home, one of the first things we wanted to get a pulse on was everyone’s emotional well-being: How were people feeling during these unprecedented times?
So we asked.
Through employee surveys, we uncovered the biggest challenges employees faced—from caring for dependents to a lack of home-office equipment and general anxiety from the compounded effects of the pandemic—and identified ways we could support a productive and flexible work-from-home transition.
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To Minimize Burnout
Early on, we let employees know that they could have flexible hours, which allowed them to deal with unexpected circumstances. Since many people had homeschooling and childcare added to their work responsibilities, a typical 9-to-5 work day wasn’t possible, and we wanted to make sure they knew we understood these challenges.
Two holidays in May
Working from home can sometimes blur the boundaries between work life and home life. To address that, we added two company holidays in May to give everyone a chance to step away, decompress, and focus on their mental and physical health.
No lunchtime meetings
Everyone should take time for a mental break during the day. For this reason, we created a policy of no meetings between noon and 1:00 pm, giving employees the chance to take a break and prioritize themselves, be it through eating, recharging, or taking care of other responsibilities in their home.
To Enhance Communication and Work Productivity
$500 home office equipment/setup stipend
Since employees were unable to retrieve their workstation equipment from the office, we gave everyone $500 to go toward setting up a home office to make working from home as comfortable as possible. We subsequently offered an additional $200 monthly stipend for incidentals like Internet upgrades, craft kits to keep children occupied, and food delivery/takeout.
Virtual events (fireside chats, happy hours, game nights, tea time, cooking classes, etc.)
Along with technical adjustments, the switch to working from home meant getting creative with new avenues for social interaction. Without the usual organic conversations taking place during the day, we opened up new lines of communication.
- Fireside Chats
Our typical bi-weekly company-wide all-hands meetings with our CEO were scheduled weekly through mid-June in order to better address, in real time, the uncertainty everyone was feeling, as well as any employee concerns. We also used this time to give everyone a rundown of the latest company news and any larger initiatives, such as the new government mandate providing 10 additional emergency paid sick days and how to apply for them.
- Happy Hours, Game Nights, Tea Time, Cooking Classes
Our virtual events aren’t purely for informational purposes. We also host them to foster communication between teams and help everyone feel more connected. (Because sometimes you need to see your friends and coworkers in a casual Zoom gathering!) We’ve held happy hours, game nights, and cooking classes to keep everyone connected, to build bridges between people across teams, and to help new employees meet their coworkers.
To Give Back and Support
Parents and those taking care of loved ones have been hit especially hard during this crisis. It continues to be important for us to find resources and creative solutions to help.
To support our working parents, we’ve set up a Slack channel where they can offer each other tips and talk about the struggles specific to their experience. We’ve also set up a twice-a-day story time over Zoom to entertain children and offer parents a respite. Employees have stepped up as well, leading science experiments for kids to create their own “erupting” volcanoes, as well as hosting a kid-centric cooking class.
Food, Food, Food!
To bring some normalcy back to work life—where free snacks were readily available in the office—we started sending snack boxes to employees’ homes that contained healthy snack options from Snack Nation. The same goes for team lunches, as delivery fees for a takeout lunch could be expensed once a week. While it may seem insignificant, we hope these “treats” are a source of comfort and something to look forward to.
Fun fact: Our facilities team was kind enough to gather up all of the food left behind in the office and donate it to Lifemoves, where it would be distributed to people in need.
We’re hoping all these initiatives help lighten the mental load our employees are carrying. We will continue to check in with our Course Hero community, a community that includes our students and educators, and support them however they need us. (Read more about emergency funds and resources available here.)
We are always looking to grow and build our teams, both from among our current talent pool and with additional hires. We welcome you to check out our many open positions and become a Course Hero team member.