It has been over two months since all of us went into quarantine. Over that time, I've heard numerous stories of how companies have reacted to the global pandemic. What I have not really seen is stories of how employees have felt during these unprecedented times.
So, I decided to write something from my perspective, as an employee of iQmetrix, on what my employer has done for me as an individual throughout the past two months.
March was actually 365 days
Like most countries around the world, the seriousness of COVID-19 started hitting home that first week of March, a month that, for only 31 days long, seemed to span an entire year.
It wasn't until the end of that first week that I realized things were not going to be normal—not for a very long time.
When the BC government announced the 14-day quarantine measures if you have left the country and to shelter in a place if you were feeling sick, iQmetrix responded quickly—we closed our offices on March 16 after the province called for strict physical distancing, and suspended all business and non-essential travel—and assembled a Pandemic Response team to monitor the situation daily. We were ready as a company to move quickly on any new COVID-19 related announcements.
All I could feel when I received that announcement was shock. I thought to myself: We're in it now.
How COVID-19 changed our team
Those first few weeks were scary. The government released new information and programs every day. Retailers and service providers were shutting down or limiting store hours all across North America. The news became overwhelming. Social media had to be limited. Social distancing became a buzzword. It felt like I was in a movie.
With such an abrupt shut down, our Internal IT team had to move quickly to make sure all employees were set up to work from home. It blew my mind how agile they were. I haven’t told them this yet (I hope you're reading this, team) but: Well done!
One thing our leadership team made sure was to have open and transparent communication with everyone about what they were doing to ensure the safety and security of all 400+ of us. Here's what that looked like:
- We have weekly company wide update emails and staff meetings via Zoom.
- They put together a list of resources for people to pass out (i.e., Mental Health resources) to their friends and families if they knew of anyone affected by the quarantine.
- A “Subsidy” task force was assembled to monitor our revenues daily to see when we could apply for the Wage Subsidy program.
- We honored new employee contracts signed before quarantine initiatives were put in place. We decided we would onboard them remotely and try and give them the best experience possible from a distance.
- Flexibility in our sabbatical terms; going into extra time off for people who need to take care of sick family members and flexible work hours. For me, this means a lot; my wife went back to work during the pandemic. Knowing all of the above makes me less stressed of how we are going to handle taking care of our daughter.
Outside of the official company program, I have seen our iQmetrix community become even closer.
We have weekly happy hours on Friday, trivia game breaks throughout the week, and even office-wide workouts led by yours truly. Employee driven initiatives such as these have helped keep the company culture strong and maintain what I love about working here.
Transparency > sugar coating
At the end of Q1, and right before Easter long weekend, we had another company wide email. This email was much different than the others. It laid out where we’re at financially and what some scenarios might manifest if this continues into the summer.
No sugar coating, just straight facts. It’s what every employee needed to hear; they didn’t treat us like children trying to hide the situation.
For me, personally, I would rather know the reality than be hidden from it and then be shocked with an abrupt change. iQmetrix decided to prepare us for the best and worst at the individual level by giving us all the information we need to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families. Not a lot of companies would commit to being so honest and upfront. But not a lot of companies are iQmetrix. I truly appreciated our leadership doing this.
Adjusting to a new normal
This past Friday, was the two month mark.
Everyone in the company has adjusted to working from home. Some have reduced workloads while others’ workloads have increased in response to supporting our clients or employees, and in response, iQmetrix has encourages employees to support busier departments and our subsidiary, “Ready”.
Amongst the chaos, I have seen opportunity arise for people to lend a hand elsewhere (including myself) in the company. It’s incredible to see friends and colleagues rise to the occasion to support other teams. It's even more incredible to know that the company I work for has allowed for this flexibility.
I’ve never had to weather a storm such as this; I know many of my friends, colleagues, and family have not had to either. Looking back at how things were pre-COVID, I realize how lucky I am to live where I live and for all of us to experience the privileges that we do.
I also feel incredibly lucky to get to work at a place like iQmetrix. It has really made me feel comfortable knowing that we are going to be okay coming out of this and stronger than when we entered.
I’ll end with a quote I once heard, it has always stuck with me over the years and I feel it applies to our current situation not just as a company but globally.
“True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure.”
I think the same goes for a company. I have now seen “pressure” applied to iQmetrix. I fully realize now why “Character” is always said to be one of our fundamental value’s as a company. We really do care about our people and our people care about each other.
Read more about our early and active response to COVID-19, below!