Working remotely: The Alouettes’ winning game planSep 1, 2020
The Montreal Alouettes team is much more than the team we cheer for on the field. The business’ success relies on the efforts of dozens of office employees, along with a seasonal staff of several hundred.
What’s more, for the Alouettes, success is about more than winning games. It’s also about drawing thousands of fans—as many as 20,000 per game—to Percival Molson Stadium. The organization therefore wants to give these football lovers a great experience in all regards. To achieve this, all staff members have to work together and communicate effectively.
For the Alouettes, the start of 2020 augured change. With new owners and a new president, Montreal football fans were looking to the future. At that point, nobody expected a pandemic to come along and disrupt our lives. Thankfully, the club was actually getting ready for it, without realizing it.
Communicating during a pandemic
In January of 2020, the company was replacing its conventional telephone system with TELUS’ Business Connect voice over IP solution. It transitioned from an obsolete technology for which technical support was no longer available, given its age, to an integrated cloud-based communications platform. Less expensive than the old system, it also provides access to telephony, video, messaging and collaboration tools anywhere and on any device.
Mario Cecchini, the Alouettes’ President and CEO, was delighted to discover the system’s range of functionalities when he took the helm in February. “It was really convenient to be able to reach team members just by dialing their extension on my cell phone,” he noted.
However, he appreciated the system’s usefulness even more in mid-March, when remote work became the norm because of COVID-19. While he was sending all the employees home, he didn’t know how incoming calls would be handled. He was surprised to learn that the receptionist could take them all on her mobile using the Business Connect application. If she wishes, she can even transfer calls while standing in her backyard at the cottage, with her daughter playing close by.
Similarly, when someone tries to contact an Alouettes employee using an extension, they are automatically connected with the contact’s cell phone. “People can call my cell without me having to provide my personal number,” the president stressed.
Unsurprisingly, Cecchini’s team is often resorting to phone calls and videoconferencing these days. They go smoothly with the all-in-one Business Connect app. This isn’t the only way for employees to stay in contact: “Water cooler conversations aren’t possible right now, so the integrated team messaging and collaboration tools help the entire group stay connected and feel supported,” he said. “It’s a great way to congratulate colleagues.”
Staying in touch with fans
According to Cecchini, the Alouettes can count on the support of hundreds of thousands of fans, which is a real privilege. The club therefore sees it as essential to maintain the close relationship between the team and its admirers.
Social media allows the organization to interact with the public regularly. Newsletters are sent out to fans to keep them up to date on the latest news. Sometimes, in-person activities are offered. In February, for example, sixty subscribers had the opportunity to visit the locker room.
Of course, with social distancing, this type of get-together is not recommended. However, using Business Connect, the organization recently held a videoconference during which subscribers were able to put live questions to a few members of the organization, including General Manager Danny Maciocia and Cecchini. According to the CEO, “Some people have held season tickets for 25 years. Videoconferencing allows us to offer them an exclusive experience that we will then share with all subscribers by emailing them a link.”
The entire Alouettes staff is eager to see the players back on the field, entertaining the public. Over the years, the team has always managed to overcome its defeats and difficulties and get back in winning form. The post-confinement era will be no different.
However, regaining some semblance of normality will not keep managers from retaining certain reflexes that they acquired during the pandemic. According to Cecchini, he has long been in favour of working from home, but the last few weeks have convinced him even more.
When Montreal is hit with a big storm, he will just ask all employees to stay home that morning. “We won’t hesitate to do it, because we know it’ll go well,” he said. “And now we’re used to seeing our colleagues’ spouses, children and pets on our calls. Personally, I like it!”
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