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Finder’s response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak
We're making our employer response playbook public to help other businesses.
Like most employers, we’re navigating the coronavirus pandemic day by day. We’re making Finder’s internal playbook public in order to give other businesses information that could help with their decision-making. Finder is a global comparison site helping millions of people make better decisions, and we have hundreds of employees around the globe, so we hope that sharing our guide publicly will help others. This guide is a work in progress, and we’re evolving and improving it over time. Please note that this is not intended to be advice, legal or otherwise, and you should consider your own workplace health and safety obligations and seek legal advice or other professional advice if you’re uncertain. If you have any feedback or suggestions to improve this guide, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organising a task force
We found that an emergency COVID-19 task force was a good way to narrow our working group while ensuring that key messages were discussed, documented and actioned quickly. This is how we set up a task force with all the relevant stakeholders:
- We determined a small group of people responsible for accountabilities to the topic at hand.
- We decided on the most effective way to communicate. We chose setting up a private Slack channel.
- We assessed who must be consulted on the comms. We chose to include our People & Culture team, the senior leadership team, the Head of Publishing, our Communications team and our Country CEOs due to our geo-distribution.
- We came up with a communication strategy to distribute the information. We chose to send one communication globally, with specific sections as to where to find official guidance in each home country. That way, the key messages were managed centrally, and it was clear that we’re thinking about the situation from a holistic perspective.
At Finder, we openly communicate with our crew because we know that transparency leads to more informed decision-making. Given the heightened media coverage, we also wanted to minimise panic around how this pandemic could impact our crew and their loved ones.
Here are the steps we took to set-up our communications plan:
Sources of truth
We chose to use only official government authorities and international health organisations as our sources of truth.
We chose to monitor the sites below. We also signed up for real-time updates and added the links to an RSS feed. We set-up an integration so that the RSS feed would populate directly into our Slack group.
- World Health Organisation (WHO)
- International SOS
- UK National Health Services (NHS)
- UK Public Health England
- US Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- AU Department of Health
- NZ Ministry of Health
- PH Department of Health
- PO Ministry of Health
Determining key messages
This is an evolving and developing situation, so we decided to keep our key messages simple and to the point.
- This is Finder’s official communication regarding our policy and practice regarding coronavirus. Your health, safety and wellbeing are our top priorities. Please prioritise your health, and the health of others, diligently and with care.
- At Finder, we help people make better decisions. Therefore, we’re going to take the same approach with our crew. To ensure we are deploying the most accurate information, we will be using official guidance from local governments and international health organisations.
- We have crew all over the globe and we are monitoring this situation closely. We will send updates on Thursdays until further notice, and more frequently if there is an urgent announcement. Emails will be sent from a central email address.
In order to centralise communications and distribute key messages to the team, we did the following:
- We created a central email account query, as well as a separate Slack channel for concerns people had about coronavirus. We wanted to avoid cluttering other communication channels with COVID-19 related queries.
- We also encouraged people to reach out to the People & Culture team if they had any questions and to be patient if they didn’t have an answer right away.
- The People & Culture team created a Confluence page (like an internal Wikipedia) and sent an email every Thursday, keeping people updated and informed on the situation as it developed.
- We provided WHO-recommended resources on how to manage stress and anxiety during the outbreak and encouraged people to reach out to a counsellor through our Employee Assistance Program.
- We reminded employees that all health-related queries are confidential. Even if well-intended, we asked people to be conservative about making comments or inquiries about suspected symptoms and encouraged concerned parties to contact the People & Culture team.
We decided to get clear on our workflow to ensure we were responding to each person, each question and each hypothetical with compassion and thoughtfulness.
Determining the optimal process
This topic, in particular, was important to us because we have distributed crew and crew members who travel between offices. We wanted to make our key message clear. We determined five scenarios:
- If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 (coronavirus), please notify the People & Culture crew immediately. We will ask that you work from home, in quarantine, for a minimum of 14 days and until you have a physician’s release to return to work.
- If you have travelled to a Category 1 country, please notify the People & Culture crew immediately. We will ask that you work from home, in quarantine, for 14 days to ensure you have not acquired COVID-19.
- If you have travelled to a Category 2 country, please notify the People & Culture crew immediately. You are able to come to the office, but you must notify us immediately if you start showing signs of cold or flu-like symptoms. You will be asked to work from home (or follow sick leave procedures), in quarantine, to avoid spreading illness to others.
- If you have a cough, high temperature, shortness of breath or sore throat, please work from home (or follow sick-leave procedures). If you come to the office, be prepared that People & Culture or your Crew Lead may send you home to minimise the spread of illnesses. The symptoms of the common cold or flu can appear similar to COVID-19. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.
- If you have a fever, please remain home until you have been fever-free for 24 hours before returning to the office.
After we sorted our communications plan, and before we decided on a global working-from-home initiative, we were able to update our office practices in line with the health information and recommendations available. According to the WHO, the following are the best precautionary measures:
- Practice extra diligence with hand washing. Soap and water are recommended. Hand sanitiser will do if soap and water aren’t available.
- Practice extra diligence with respiratory hygiene. Cough in the elbow. Use clean tissues. Discard used tissues. Repeat step one.
- Prepare office with extra supplies to ensure the office remains in tiptop shape in case of supply outages. We chose to be prepared with an extra 45-day supply of cleaning supplies, paper products, hand sanitiser in all meeting rooms and disposable cleaning wipes for equipment.
We initially took a stance to prohibit all non-essential business travel and to let the P&C team know if someone from the team was planning personal travel to a Category 1 or Category 2 country. However, as of early March, we prohibited all business travel until further notice and further asked crew to let us know about any personal travel to Category 1 or 2 countries. Many governments, including those of New Zealand and the United States, had urged residents to reconsider their need for overseas travel at this time.
Informing our People & Culture team
Our People & Culture (or P&C) team is often the front line for any type of concern or question relating to employee experiences. We gave our crew access to the information they’d need for FAQs and encouraged them to follow-up with people (or official sources of truth) if they were unsure about a particular response.
Informing our Crew Leads
Sometimes, crew members don’t come to our P&C team, and instead, ask their Crew Lead a question. We encouraged Crew Leads to use the talking points from our official communications or to refer back to our People & Culture crew.
Remote work and working from home – updated 13 March 2020
Social distancing will be critical to combating the spread of the virus, according to information and recommendations from the WHO, Ministry of Health and governments around the world. Young and healthy people have a key part to play in protecting more vulnerable members of the population. Therefore, on 13 March 2020, we announced that, globally, our offices would be temporarily closed effective 16 March 2020. This was to do our part to minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). As a digital business, we are well set up to work remotely, and we don’t expect significant business interruptions as a result.
We have promoted remote work culture in our distributed crew for over 10 years. Our company was built on the idea that to create meaningful content that would help people make better decisions, we needed to find a way to grow Finder that was agnostic of typical workplace norms. Therefore, we have not needed to make radical changes to our existing remote work philosophy.
We will continue to evolve this guide as time goes on. Please feel free to share any feedback at email@example.com.
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