Adaptability an Asset for Business Continuity
On March 16, as soon as the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) was announced, the leadership team at Canva Philippines came together to discuss how to respond to the rising challenges being brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Three days later, on March 19, they advised all employees to work from home as a pre-emptive measure and began mobilizing their business continuity plans for the organization.
The management’s guiding principles for the implementation of decisions throughout the ECQ were: primarily to ensure the team’s safety and well-being, to support their community, and to rally together with compassion. These principles ensured that they were all moving in the same direction and that everybody was cared for, even outside the workplace.
Fortunately, Canva’s products are already being delivered online, thus the transition to work-from-home was relatively smooth. Nonetheless, they increased proactive communication and context sharing, with weekly company-wide meetings and a host of new initiatives. All operations were moved to virtual platforms, from hiring and screening, to onboarding and training. They designed remote-friendly ways of working and placed extra effort on connecting team members across the business. Meetings were moved to Zoom, and Slack channels were opened so people can continue to bond socially and exchange tips and resources. A special Internal Communications Team was also assembled to ensure news and updates from local government units, the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) are being cascaded in real-time and consolidated in one place for easier reference. Most importantly, the team realized their own platform’s significance at this time, and used Canva heavily to create presentations, do product mock-ups, as well as birthday and anniversary cards for colleagues.
Amidst these circumstances, they have proven among themselves that great workplace culture goes far beyond the physical space. As a high-growth start-up, their “adaptable and agile team members” are invaluable and incredibly creative, finding new ways to get the job done, and supporting each other throughout the outbreak.
Compassionate Leadership is an Imperative
Fully aware that their people are experiencing a host of challenges, the leadership team at Canva Philippines remained fully committed to making the transition easy for their team members and their respective families. As testament to this, employees who flew back to Manila from their Sydney headquarters at the height of the community quarantine, were offered 14-day hotel accommodations, so they would not need to quarantine at home and place their loved ones at risk. Leave credits were not disturbed, incoming new-hire contracts were honoured, and mobile broadband solutions through sim-powered modems were disbursed to ensure strong internet facilities. Prior to the quarantine, Canva’s Vibe team prepared daily free meals at their office, and since they moved to working remotely, this was converted into food stipends that went into the employee payroll. The extra funds were vital for employees who had family members whose salaries were affected by the recent turn of events.
To ensure that their employees remain mentally and physically fit, management has been working closely with their in-house coach and external health provider. Employees are able to access professional medical support and consultations through online channels for themselves and family members, while Canva Philippines’ in-house coach likewise remains at arm’s reach virtually.
The leadership team at Canva Philippines found it critical to foster a relationship of trust and flexibility, being mindful that everyone is experiencing rapid change. They encouraged one another to practice compassionate leadership.
Keep the Vibe Alive
The team at Canva are always looking forward to going to work. Before the quarantine, their Vibe team hosted fun activities at their workplace to promote camaraderie, well-being, creativity and fun.
The absence of the physical space posed a challenge on how to continue with these activities. Yet they managed to pull everyone together by converting these activities into virtual ones. Some examples of the Slack channels they initiated were #ggss (gandang-ganda sa sarili) – make-up tutorials on how to look good while working from home and #whatsforlunch – a cooking channel where colleagues can share recipes and promote healthy eating. They also partnered with fitness vendors to stream “Canva-fied” exercise videos for the team, personalizing and championing a healthy lifestyle experience for their team members. Furry friends may also join in the action, as colleagues may include them in zoom meetings and share how they are coping at home.with
Everyone Plays a Crucial Role
Every team across Canva Philippines made sure they gave their full support to ensure everybody’s safety and contribute to the quick transition from onsite to remote work.
The Specialty Lead for Customer Service was among the first to support the movement of all Customer Happiness Specialists to work from home. Metrics and KPIs were immediately revisited to make sure the transition will not impact vital targets or penalize anyone as they adjust to working alone and not having their support groups nearby.
The leaders of their Design team also ensured that their members remained motivated through daily check-ins, so they may continue to be creative and produce quality templates and designs. This proved fruitful, especially when they were able to deliver hundreds of templates related to COVID-19 in less than a week.
Likewise, for Product Development, they mobilized to educate and give access to more people on their product line, to answer the growing demand for work done online. This resulted in gaining more subscribers and sign-ups for free trials on Canva Pro.
The Community and Social Media team got in touch with the Department of Health, the Research Institute of Tropical Medicines (RITM), and several hospitals and local barangay units to give them free use of Canva Pro and help disseminate vital information visually across social media.
The Finance and Legal teams were quick to ensure that all allowances and stipends were afforded to employees, with the mechanisms and processes in place for employees to receive their assistance immediately.
And amidst all these, the Human Resources team provided the backbone for all these changes and established a sense of certainty and stability in an otherwise ambiguous situation. In the words of Vanson So who leads Canva Philippines’ HR team, “Fully supporting all the teams and providing people the flexibility on the basis of trust and confidence, has allowed Canva Philippines to avoid serious risks and further champion being a force of good – true to our Canva values.”
Canva Philippines has indeed exemplified how much more can be accomplished by being BETTER TOGETHER.
Xyris loves to look at life through a broader lens. She is a certified bookworm, occasional writer, intrepid traveler and design enthusiast. She likes to create and breathe vibrancy to things. When not organizing events, she is a content contributor for GPTW PH and likewise handles corporate matters. A happy wife and a doting mom, she finds joy in unique experiences and believes that everyone has the potential for greatness.