Keeping the Hive Buzzing In the Midst of COVID-19

Written by: Ellen Thorne

At CloudBees, our number one priority is the health and safety of our employees, as well as their families and friends. As we continue to navigate the uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are continuing to put measures in place to help mitigate health risk concerns and communicate information to our employees.

With 70 percent of the CloudBees workforce remote and distributed and the remaining 30 percent spread across eight offices around the world, the biggest advantage we have as a company is that we were already largely remote. The coronavirus was not a big disruption for us, in terms of work patterns. We can execute a more seamless business continuity plan, by default. Not only do we have the right technology and infrastructure internally to support our people, but the culture supports our folks to work whenever/wherever they want to. The management structure is also remote, for the most part. Not many of our managers have intact teams in the same location, so the distributed nature of our company actually helps us work through unexpected situations like this.

For CloudBees, the biggest adjustment is for our customer-facing teams, including our sales and services teams. The services team helps implement our software directly into a customer’s data center or IT environment. As a services company, the ability to just have face-to-face conversations with customers when implementing a new product is a business-critical function. However, we are still able to provide services and support remotely, on an as-needed basis in any geography. We’ve taken measures to communicate to our customers throughout this time, explaining what will change (on-site services) and what won’t (almost everything else). Our customers are still getting the needed support, whether through remote implementation services or our usual response to help desk tickets.

Internally, we strive to ensure every employee has the same experience no matter where they are located. What we also want to acknowledge for those used to an office environment and now working remotely, is that it’s going to be different for them, something to get used to. It’s important for managers to help alleviate employees’ concerns by leading with trust and empowerment, while also holding them accountable for their work. We’re making extensive use of Udemy, an online training subscription CloudBees has for all employees. Everyone has 24/7 access to more than 2,000 recorded trainings. For those employees still adjusting to remote team management, there are several online trainings we recommend. One of them, “How to Manage and Influence Your Virtual Teams” is designed to instill confidence in managing from afar while also ensuring productivity amongst the remote team members.

As a distributed workforce, we also know the value of open communication through various online applications. Right now, amongst our hundreds of Slack channels, we have created a channel called “Social Coronavirus” devoted just to news on the coronavirus. The ability to post and knowledge-share among employees in different cities throughout the U.S. and across different countries helps awareness from a global perspective, while also still maintaining the strong CloudBees community. Given email still remains a primary form of communication for some employees, we are taking a blended approach – both email and Slack – for more formal communications.

While we are no strangers to the distributed work environment, now more than ever we want to stress the importance to listen to employees and maintain a good pulse on those for whom there may be challenges. We will continue to put employees first and maintain as much normalcy as possible at this time, communicating changes as necessary. We also encourage employees to engage and communicate with their teams – and even share their best work from home tips – since now more than ever it’s important to keep the CloudBees community and culture alive.

Finally, I am sharing some insider tips on working from home from Bees around the world.

Stay healthy and stay safe!

Ellen Thorne
Vice-President, HR

Ellen Thorne is a global human resources leader with a passion for connecting corporate strategies to the employee experience. She has been leading the HR function at CloudBees for two years. Her background includes strategic planning, organizational effectiveness and talent development in leadership roles and strategic consultation. Ellen is based in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband, two daughters and a furry baby.

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