Embracing spirited teamwork: How TELUS Digital created a connected remote teamCulture · May 20, 2020
At TELUS Digital, we have a flexible work styles plan which allows team members to work from home when it best suits their schedule. However, one challenge we haven’t faced before is our entire team working remotely at the same time. This has been a big learning experience and adjustment for everyone. Many team members had built a routine around in-office interactions, coffee chats, and cross-team collaboration. Now, we had to learn how to create a connected workspace for 700 fully remote team members, partners, and vendors.
It didn’t take long for our team to get creative and start putting ideas into action. Our weekly and monthly department routines now have a little twist so we can make our work from home experiences a little more connected and inclusive:
Keeping lines of communication open
At TELUS Digital, we use Slack as the main channel for messaging across our department. When our work styles changed, two team members got creative and created a “work from home” channel that allows for all Digital team members to communicate with each other, share tips/tricks or pictures of their lunch. This channel was created to be a safe space for team members to provide an outlet for learning or struggles working from home. To add some fun into the mix, daily contests are posted with new themes and prizes.
Staying transparent through difficult times
Each month, every team at TELUS Digital comes together to partake in a department-wide meeting called “All Team Standup.” In normal circumstances, our teams would get together in person at our Toronto and Vancouver offices and connect over video conferencing to discuss team updates, enterprise news, and other important topics about the organization. With the current environment, our senior team had decided to turn these into weekly touchpoints so team members feel more informed and included on TELUS Digital’s journey during this time. Every meeting closes with allocated time for questions or concerns.
Changing and adapting squad rituals
During the past few weeks, our squads have had to adjust how they communicate product changes and pivot where necessary to help out other teams. With that in mind, many squads have changed or introduced new rituals which allow them to be more connected on both a professional and personal level. We touched base with a few of our team members to learn more about how they are modifying their squad rituals to fit the current work environment.
“Our squad has been running smoothly and efficiently through the quarantine. We run a quick daily on-camera stand up to get some face time in and to ensure there is an opportunity to raise any blockers and dependencies. Additionally, we run backlog grooming and planning weekly to make sure everyone is clear on what their sprint priorities are. Our newest ritual is a bi-weekly/end of sprint internal showcase for the builders to showcase anything they're building to get feedback from the rest of the team. By keeping everyone's priorities clear and giving the team a regular platform to showcase their progress, our squad has been able to navigate the WFH pivot seamlessly while staying on track of our delivery schedule.” - Lillian Hsu, Brand Standards & Resources
"One thing which has always worked well for our team has been to have lunch together. When we were in the office, we made it a point to see each other at lunch whenever our schedules permitted. We’ve tried to carry that over to our life right now, and we still have a virtual team lunch every week. It’s great to see everyone’s faces and hear the stories. Apart from that, we have regular check-ins during the week and we’re all very connected with one another. We’re either bonding over jokes or helping each other solve business problems. There are no virtual barriers in our team!" - Karabi Mitra, Digital Strategy team
“Monster Island is our Squad Name, a name we made for ourselves, which embodies our passion, tenacious attitudes, and monster-like initiatives we've been driving across TELUS. However, COVID-19, social distancing, and quarantine have been making waves on Monster Island, as of late, and have drastically changed our ways of working in an instant. Our team is so close, and we're missing our morning coffee walks, whirly ball tournaments, and friendly office banter. But, Monster Island continues to connect and persevere despite these physical restrictions.
We're continuing our team meetings weekly and have a touchpoint every Thursday in case anyone has any questions or just wants to chat. We also have a Lunch & Games Session using JackBox TV, where we play mini-games together and show each other our Quarantine Cuisine Creations every Friday. But even when we're not on a scheduled meeting or call, our team members are communicating with each other throughout the day, prioritizing each other's needs and helping each other succeed. It could be over a simple slack message, an email, or a call, but timely, well-thought-out responses are the norm on our team, and we're so appreciative of this.
They say it's tough times like these that bring people together, and this couldn't be more true for our team. We're working extremely hard to deliver amazing experiences for our customers, but we're also becoming closer as a team and leaning on each other for support. I know our team will come out of this stronger than ever and use our new ways of working and this time to evolve Monster Island into a more compassionate, well-rounded team.” - Anne Booth, My TELUS
Being mindful of mental and physical health
During this time, the importance of taking care of our health and well-being has become a priority. Members at TELUS Digital have taken this one step further by encouraging our team to get moving. Team members have taken the initiative to connect virtually for workout classes/challenges led by their fellow team members. From coast to coast, team members can sign up to lead a workout of their choice or participate in a variety of at-home workouts through Google Meet.
As a result of COVID-19, an internal team portal has been created to support the well-being of team members. The portal is full of information and resources across many different areas including mental health. Within the portal, team members can find resources and tools that best suit their situation. Resources such as Ginger and BEACON are available for team members to utilize at any time.
Embracing innovation and spirited teamwork
For the time being, we need to be social from a distance but it doesn't mean we can’t be connected. As a team, we are learning every day how we can be better communicators as we work together remotely. Our team is continuously working and growing together during this unusual time to deliver a consistent and seamless experience for our customers. Our connected culture and workplace are due to the resiliency of our team for always being quick on their feet and putting concepts into motion towards building a friendlier future.