Allow me to paint you a picture of my world on Monday March 30th 2020, 9:30AM: I’m sitting at home wearing joggers, an oversized hoodie, comfy tie-dye socks, and slippers. The two 24” monitors that adorned my desk at work are now on the kitchen table in my midtown condo. And I’ve never been more productive in my entire life.
COVID-19 has already fundamentally changed our behaviour forever. In a little under two weeks we’ve seen a shift in the way employers and employees think about remote work. Not only has it become the norm (albeit forced), we’ve embraced it and taken the sudden changes thrust upon us in stride.
A couple of weeks ago in early March, our VP of Engineering at CommerceBear, Ed Robinson, approached me about the possibility of mobilizing the team to work from home. With the help of our COO, Jeff Hendler, we put a contingency plan in place (CommerceBear policy on COVID-19, if you’re interested). At the time the COVID-19 pandemic seemed and felt like a distant problem, and although we were starting to see the first few cases, there were no deaths yet. Our leadership decided that Monday March 16th would be a work from home (WFH) test day, and briefed the team that it would be a dress rehearsal for when/if going remote became necessary. Little did we know that our test day would become the real deal. We haven’t looked back (or been to HQ) since.
The past 15 days have changed everything I thought I knew about working from home. We’ve been more productive, organized, and united in vision. We’ve on-boarded new manufacturers, helped mobilize ecosystem customers, and deployed killer code faster than ever before. Although the furniture industry has been rocked by the mandated closure of retailers nationwide and the cancellation of major trade shows, our pipeline has gotten stronger. In a very short period of time, the global crisis caused by COVID-19 has already accelerated the furniture industry’s shift towards the full adoption of ecomm. In this light, our mission to help the furniture industry evolve has never felt more essential.
I find myself asking why we’ve been able to shift gears and adapt so quickly. We’re a high-growth company with an agile team, but that’s only part of the equation. There’s a lot of emotional stress associated with changing a way of life and going remote — 0 to 100 real quick, you feel me. Leveraging Slack, Google Hangouts, and ClickUp has been instrumental in keeping everyone in constant communication and optimistic. But what’s different about going remote during #covid19 is that there’s no swinging by BearHQ or “see you tomorrow” when signing off a call with the team. What we’re all going through requires full buy-in, total and unbridled commitment to the cause.
With that being said, I thought it would be useful to share with you what I’ve learned from the first two weeks of going remote.
Although we didn’t have much of a choice in moving to remote work this time around, flexibility to work from home has meant a happier team, much higher productivity, and it has forced us to communicate better. I wouldn’t be surprised if the shift to remote culture we’ve seen the last few makes a lasting impact on how the world works 🌎
Message your parents, they probably miss you. As always, stay excellent to one another.
Sam Vlessing, CEO | CommerceBear
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