In the first episode of our podcast interviews with inspiring modern business leaders, Tanya Sun from the AI driven voice translation start-up Papercup talks about keeping a positive office culture when your team is forced to work from home.
If this trend continues, how do you ensure it works for your whole team? How do you marry working from home with the office culture to make every employee happy? And how do you actually manage employees that work remote.
How do you think Papercup is dealing with remote working so far?
I think we’ve we definitely sit so towards the latter end of that scale as a business. We’ve always championed flexible work. And that’s really sort of helped us approach this transition relatively seamlessly. Prior to this period, a lot of the team already worked from home one day a week. So we really had some of the processes and the tools and structures in place.
Where do you see the opportunity for Papercup in the current landscape?
Our voice translation technology allows people from all over the world what’s content in their own native language.
So in this moment right now, we are actually seeing a real increase in demand for quality content across the world, whether that’s at home fitness videos or kids’ education videos, news channels and so on. So what we’re doing at Papercup actually helps to provide that to millions of people from all over the world who otherwise might not be able to watch it. I think a really good example of that is actually I work with Sky News on YouTube. So in the last couple weeks alone, we’ve reached the site, I think over 11 million listeners.
How do you reconcile moving quickly and working remotely as well?
There are two things that are really critical here. I think the first is having total clarity and alignment of goals. And that’s not just in individual teams, but actually also as a company. You kind of want to have everyone really clear on exactly what they’re working towards. The second one is just ensuring strong communication across the board, not just having the right tools in place, but also having a culture where people feel like they’re really comfortable sort of reaching out when when they think something should be done differently or they need a hand.
How do you know your employees aren’t just slacking off now that you’re not all in the office together?
It’s the same way your employees aren’t slacking off when they’re in the office. It’s a combination of trust and also just having a team of incredibly motivated, driven people. We also have a very honest and open culture.
So we recognize that sometimes people are just going to have an off day. Especially under the current climate. And in that situation, if they need to take a day to disconnect, we would really encourage something like that.
What are the three steps you’ve taken to make sure the culture keeps thriving when that in-person communication goes away?
I think we are a really close knit team and we’ve made like a lot of an effort to try to ensure we have sort of non-work social touch points. So we do like Monday morning breakfast over Zoom and a Friday end of day wind-down. For Zoom video calls, they can be games, nights, quizzes and like a lot of just touch points that aren’t like meetings to sort of check in and just, you know, just to replicate some of the other touch points we would have at work.
We also try to encourage sort of check ins between people outside of their normal team. So we’ve introduced virtual coffees with everyone in the company sort of paired up randomly each week with someone from a different team. And then they have it a lot at once. One chats which people are enjoying. And then also, I think, a team that really loves to learn new things. So we spent a fair bit of time looking into getting, you know, virtual speakers lined up.
You know, just last week we had a personal trainer talk to us about different exercises we can do at home with the grains of rice we have and water bottles and so on.
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