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.
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 of 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. The second one is 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 reaching out 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.
Sometimes people need a day off. 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?
We are a really close knit team and we’ve made like a lot of an effort to try to ensure we have non-work social touch points. So we do Monday morning breakfast over Zoom and a Friday end of day wind-down. For Zoom video calls, they can be games, nights, quizzes and a lot of just touch points that aren’t like meetings to check in.
We also try to encourage check ins between people outside of their normal team. So we’ve introduced virtual coffees with everyone in the company paired up randomly each week with someone from a different team.
The team also love learning new things, so last week we had a personal trainer talk to us about different exercises we can do at home with grains of rice and water bottles.
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