Amidst uncertain times at Frappe
Covid demanded the well-being of teammates be set on a high priority and enhanced the work ethics at Frappe
It is not only money that counts while joining an organization. Effective leadership, equality, off-sites, emotional commitment, and trust factor play a huge role to reach the pinnacle of success for the team. And all these factors can be earned and implemented only when there is transparency and mutual respect.
My fortune cards played magic and Christmas morning confirmed my selection at Frappe. My previous experience in the professional arena allowed me to deal with people and learn "Employee Engagement" on a deeper level. I chose to have a handful of interactions with my colleagues in Frappe and understand how it reshaped my thinking of the term "engagement".
The pre-pandemic era
Before the pandemic, Frappe team used to gather on one floor and celebrate Fridays (Friday Forums) and review meetings with a lot of elation and enthusiasm because the conversations were not just limited to work. It also had a lot to do with pizza, creating a vision, the organization’s growth, and wellbeing of the team. Well, every person would want a great end to their week so their weekend is exceptional right?
The paradigm shift from office to home
Frappe always had flexible work timings from home/office. When the lockdown was announced it had its moment of turbulence but it ensured a smooth transition and reshaped the internal and external process (customer service). To understand the experience of other colleagues I made a point to interview them and share their stories through this blog.
Reema Mehta from HR adds, “due to a flat organizational structure, in the initial phase we struggled to keep everyone on the same page. We had no designated leaders back then. Everyone used to manage everything. To implement the process and delegations over long video calls became tedious and difficult. Eventually, it subdued but the absence of human presence frustrated a couple of employees to the extent that they decided to quit. Losing some good performers was an eye-opener for us. That is when we came up with the idea of hiring leaders. We experimented with team bonding exercises over video calls. We named it ‘mixers’ and ‘daily stand-ups’. To elaborate mixers, 5 people from different departments were tagged in one group and they were asked to have a detailed conversation apart from work :). That helped strengthen the equations between the team.”
Umair Sayyed from Operations says, “Feedback from employees tells us that they have become more organized, productive. Hirings have increased, onboarding is smooth and batches for training are well defined now. Though the calling time has extended it certainly comes with the freedom to be flexible in one's comfort zone, and likewise the time saved on travelling is utilized on calls. Monthly one-on-one reviews over a video call, of course, helps them gauge the performance and help in building a stronger vision. While some companies had huge pay-cuts and massive layoffs, Frappe held its family close and didn't have any deductions in salary or terminations.”
In my candid conversation with one of the developers, Aditya Hase, he tells us that, “being an introvert in the lockdown did work in my favour. I’ve found solace by not getting the attention of my peers. I rented an apartment in Mumbai earlier, and the work from home facility made me relocate to my hometown. I do miss Mumbai food, team outings, and frequent visits to the gym. But now that I am staying with my family, I’ve inculcated some good practices. Like, I step out for a long walk and that 1hr is my favourite time with myself. Home-cooked delicious meals are safe and a saviour, both.”
Well, we are still unsure of the fact as to when the pandemic will fade away and we are in two minds if the office lease should be revised or we continue to work from home.
While I was scrolling through my Facebook page, one random article read “in a survey, it has been found out that a lot of employees have given up on their career just because they are monitored closely and it boils down their blood.” To a lot of managers, it isn’t obvious how much they can micromanage employees till they run out of patience and the enthusiasm to work.
I feel we are living in a collaborative world, and having a leader who sets the tone and is equally motivating, resolves more than half of the problems of any organization. People are allergic to bureaucratic leadership. They are constantly comfortable in raising their concerns, expect flexibility, want to be heard, and are sure of the kind of leader they want.
Frappe founder, Rushabh Mehta is a new age leader. I see it through the team and his reflection of words to build an ecosystem of democracy. Everyone's ideas are welcome, and we climb the ladder of success together. That calls for a stronger and amiable bond in the team. He encourages everybody to read and he believes that people who are avid readers gain a larger perspective, knowledge reflects in their work and they make efficient employees.
I’d say, influential leaders who empathize, are the strongest pillars to great customer service in disguise. The more you engage with your team the more you are bound to improve their intrapersonal and interpersonal communication skills, creating amicable bonding amongst the team and external customers. Basically “good employee engagement is interlinked to high productivity”. You gain trust in your co-workers, it helps you identify each other's weaknesses and you go strength to strength by inculcating necessary learnings. These traits directly reflect in the productivity of an organization and its people.
I did a small survey here to understand what people feel about the culture of working from home/office/both. It was a 33:6:61 ratio. Where 33% of the team is ok continuing work from home, 6% wanted to work from the office and 61% voted for both (office and home). Sure, people have learned the art of balancing their personal and professional lives at once but for people who thrive on human vibes and love to commute to the office, it’s a different ball game.
The current situtation has made travelling difficult and safety is our priority. There are a few of us who occasionally visit the office in small numbers but until the situation improves we will continue to work from home. The root of an organization and its employees to bear fruitful results explicitly depends on constant learning, innovations, team bonding, strengthened policies, and empathy. At Frappe, we have begun to foster a great company culture with group discussions and setting expectations. This has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.