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Businesses are changing — and people need to come first.

Hear from the experts on communication, technology, and remote work.

By Jamie Hoobanoff

During this time of uncertainty, it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together. In wake of current events, it’s clear many businesses and leaders are facing their fair share of challenges. With this in mind, we’ve gone to the experts to hear exactly what they’re doing (as founders, talent, and HR leaders) to adapt, operate, and execute best-in-class business and HR practices during a time of tumultuous change.

And this includes hiring. Companies are still growing, adding new staff members, and competing for talent. Most are just tweaking their processes to ensure the health and safety of their current and potential employees.

Here is a quick look at some of the ways hiring has recently changed, and how businesses have some best practices you can apply to protect your team. Hint: the common theme — people come first.

Communicate and then over-communicate. 

During a period of uncertainty such as we’re experiencing, when many people are feeling anxious, it is especially important to provide clarity and resources to your teams, clients, and the greater community. Be sure that your people know that, while work continues, their health and safety remains the very top priority.

This is the time to really exercise over-communication to reiterate your values and mission as an organization to your employees, candidates, clients, partners, and community. This provides a foundation in understanding your business and how you’ll be moving forward.

“Startups live and die by the three Cs: Communication, Collaboration and Course correction. The biggest challenge for us was how to preserve our values in a world where you can’t communicate and collaborate in-person. One tactic we utilized was to set up a Zoom channel that’s available 24/7 to our employees. All Plootonians can jump on the channel and immediately speak with one another. We quickly realized that one channel wasn’t enough and we needed to add more. ” 

— Hamed Abbasi, CEO, Plooto 

Communication is key to a successful remote working arrangement. Individuals need to know that they are still part of a team, and that business is still going on, even though they’re not physically coming in. Hold regular team calls or video meetings to keep everyone up-to-date on deliverables as well as staving off potential feelings of isolation.

Leverage technology

More and more organizations are cancelling all face-to-face interactions, including job interviews in favour of virtual meetings. There are numerous apps and platforms that allow for high-quality video calls and conferences. 

Those same technologies can also be used in place of large in-person team meetings, and are increasingly seen as an alternative to business travel as well.

This only makes sense. There is no need for companies to be putting their staff at risk by bringing in multiple candidates for on-site interviews. For the foreseeable future — until the crisis subsides — all companies should be leveraging technology for job interviews.

If you have candidates in the hiring process, don’t leave them in the dark about the situation and your policies. Communicate frequently, and keep them in the loop. Your concern for their safety, and that of your staff, is actually a strong message about the priorities of your organization and your employer brand.

An important part of the in-person interview is to give candidates exposure to the company culture. In lieu of this, prepare your ‘virtual office’ for interviews. Pay close attention to the background, the look and feel of your surroundings — as the candidate will be assessing this to get a sense of the workplace. In your communications with potential hires, be sure to leverage pictures, videos, branding, and other elements that convey the company culture such as blog posts, company events, and more.

Candidates are still going to want to learn the same things they always have about a potential employer, so in a period of remote contact, you need to find other ways to get the information across.

Work Remotely

A rapidly growing list of companies (Shopify, Google, and Twitter just to name a few) have told all of their staff who can work remotely to work from home for the coming weeks.

“Early on, we made the call to transition fully to remote work and made it clear to our employees that this decision was just as much rooted in an effort to alleviate the anxieties around commuting, as it was an effort to decrease the spread of the virus. We recognize that many of our employees are caregivers to children, family, pets, etc. and have made an effort to remind the larger workforce of these obligations, even encouraging them to introduce their loved ones to teammates virtually.”

— Devon Siegel, VP of People, Reonomy 

Having as many of your people as possible work remotely not only protects them, but it also lessens the number of people coming into the workspace who may have unknowingly come into contact with the virus.

Some tips for effectively leveraging remote work

Clearly set expectations with your team before starting your Working From Home policies. Let people know what level of connectivity, as well as hours of availability, regular check-ins and reporting you expect.  

“We’re focusing on over-communicating during this time. Regular team wide google hangouts, more internal blog posts, and keeping everyone on slack – in addition, we’re focused on finding some digital ‘team activities’, such as short gaming breaks during the day to bring everyone together for something fun and to hang out (digitally, of course!)”

Blair Livingston, CEO, Street Contxt

Startups and rapidly growing companies can’t suddenly halt their trajectory because of an external crisis. Few organizations can weather such a slow down. Fortunately, with carefully thought-out policies, and strategic use of technology, you don’t have to. Even if it’s not exactly business as usual, work can still get done, while ensuring everyone’s health and safety at the same time.

Take care, everyone, and we’ll get through this, together.

Picture of Jamie Hoobanoff

Jamie Hoobanoff

Jamie Hoobanoff is Founder of The Leadership Agency, the recruitment partner of choice for North America’s fastest-growing startups. Coming from the corporate world, Jamie launched her firm in 2017 and has continued to grow it ever since; expanding into the US in just 18 months. opening an office in NYC, and earning multiple awards. A disruptor in the HR and recruitment space, Jamie contributes her expertise to The Globe and Mail, CBC, Inc., and HRD Magazine, and she’s on the Forbes HR Council.