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In view of the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker announcement by the Singapore government, our office premises will be closed from 7 April 2020 – 1 June 2020. However, our employees are working remotely and we are glad that our business remains 100% operational.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill, affecting workers and businesses everywhere. While sustaining our business during these challenging times is crucial, the health and safety of our employees remain our key priority.

Before the Circuit Breaker

Our company had been closely monitoring the situation in Singapore before the announcement of the circuit breaker. Alarmed at the rates of transmission, we had already begun preparing a lockdown contingency plan in March.

It would be an exaggeration to say we were ready when the news broke; no one can fully prepare for a nationwide emergency. But we’d like to share what we put into place in the hopes that it might be helpful.

As an animation firm, our artists need powerful computers and software to do their work. Our first order of business was to ensure our artists would be able to quickly transport their workstations home with minimum fuss.

To enable this, we got our team to fill in a checklist of the necessary equipment they would need to effectively work from home. This also ensured that we could better allocate resources like LAN cables, graphics cards, software licenses and more before the lockdown.

On top of that, in the days preceding the lockdown, we also implemented the usual social distancing measures within the office like removing alternate seats between employees, separating workspaces and ensuring our folks didn’t cluster during lunch.

To further reduce physical contact between employees, we also did a one-week trial of a staggered work from home policy where employees were split into different teams and each team took turns working from home.

Easing into the Circuit Breaker

PM Lee’s workplace closure declaration on the 3rd of April galvanised us into action. All 40 of us started packing our CPUs and monitors up and managed to transport our work stations home on the same day. Being prepared in advance helped us to start working from home a day before the circuit breaker officially began.

We also started implementing clock-in protocols to ensure that our team remained accountable and productive. We also took additional measures to check in with our team every week with surveys and video calls to ensure everyone wasn’t suffering too much from the isolation.

All this was made possible using many of the cloud-based collaboration tools we have previously invested in like Slack, Quip and Airtable. It is safe to say that many of the measures we implemented would not have been possible a decade ago.

At CraveFX, we cherish our fun and dynamic company culture. That’s why we strive to maintain it by staying connected with each other by sharing the latest news (and memes) through Slack, having spontaneous Zoom meetings to snack together, and allowing for flexible working hours.

Adapting to the turbulence that has come in the wake of Covid-19 has not been a walk in the park. However, our team’s willingness to bite the bullet and work with the new normal has definitely made this transition a lot smoother.

Learning Points

While our early establishment of work-from-home guidelines helped to make office closure less painful , it also taught us the importance of using trials to determine the feasibility of a plan of action.

Doing longer test runs before putting contingency plans and guidelines into practice might be an option to consider so we can be more prepared in future.

This work-from-home situation has also underscored the importance of communication. As we should all know by now, texting hides nuances of tone and certain subtleties. It’s very easy to misinterpret what your colleague is saying in a text message. We’ve concluded that it’s far better to hop on a call to iron out kinks before jumping straight into a task without clarity.

Finally, empathy has become even more crucial in times like this.

The circuit breaker has been tremendously disruptive and we have all faced varying degrees of difficulty in coping with the restrictions that have been imposed. For many, job security has also been called into question. While profits and revenues might be front and centre in every business owner’s mind, it’s important to remain sensitive to the needs and concerns of your employees.

We hope this article has helped give you an insight into what worked for us this. If you’ve got anything to share about your company’s WFH arrangements, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@cravefx.com .

Meanwhile, we hope you stay home and stay safe.

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