Israelis are social people who value connections with colleagues, says HR Manager of PerimeterX
Noticing the social nature of the workplace, Gabby Bador from PerimeterX knew they had to make big changes to adapt to social distancing and remote working
These included anything from virtual escape rooms, cocktail mixing classes, guest lectures, personal trainers, a Pride Month celebration, happy hours, and more. Anything that could help the management keep the morale up during the early days of the lockdown.
For CTech’s HR Post-Covid Series, Bador at PerimeterX has outlined some of the ways that the company made sure Israelis maintained their social nature even when they faced challenges like self-isolation and lockdowns for months on end.
Company name: PerimeterX
HR Leader: Gabby Bador
Field of activity: App protection ad security services
Professional background of HR manager:
Gabby is head of Human Resources in Tel Aviv, Israel, and leads the company’s effort to find, develop, and support top-notch talent. Prior to joining PerimeterX, she was Senior HR Manager at Playbuzz, a Disney-backed storytelling platform. Before that, Gabby was a Recruitment Consultant at GetTaxi (now Gett), an on-demand mobility company based in Tel Aviv. Earlier, she held Training Manager and Account Manager Positions at A2Business. She is a graduate of Tel Aviv University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology.
On a scale of 1-10, how much did the coronavirus pandemic disrupt HR operations at the company?
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most disruptive, I would grade it a 6 out of 10 in the early days of the pandemic. But we were able to learn a lot and quickly manage the changes needed to reduce the disruption. We were fast to realize, in a matter of days, that we needed to immediately shift the way we work. We’ve established an ongoing open and uninterrupted communication line between all employees and management levels and shifted recruitment efforts to 100% remotely online. I would agree that these weren't easy times, and we had to work in a bubble of uncertainty.
What are the major challenges and impacts of the pandemic and what are the practical HR initiatives the company Implemented?
In terms of challenges, work-from-home and shelter-in-place restrictions put stress on employees at all levels. While team members may no longer have a commute, they are now balancing children, spouses, and partners at home, and sometimes in very close quarters. Some are feeling pressure, monotony, and boredom. PerimeterX leaders have been incredibly open and addressed this head-on. Employees are encouraged to manage their work time and not let “work from home” equal “work all the time.” They have increased their communication, hosted coffee breaks and happy hours, and encouraged work-shifting so team members can take good care of their personal responsibilities. During one of our regular all-hands Zoom meetings, employees from all over the company submitted short video clips highlighting work-from-home strategies, personal stories, and comforting words to help encourage team members during this time.
PerimeterX HR and management have taken preemptive moves to safeguard the business and come out of this situation in good shape. This includes delaying hiring with the exception of critical roles, ceasing travel, and further optimizing the operating budget. These moves will minimize the need for restructuring. HR and management also introduced a work-from-home stipend to cover expenses for employees’ home office needs. PerimeterX has also provided employees numerous days off throughout 2020 to further relieve team members of work-from-home pressure.
The remote work challenge - adjusting HR processes to a remote work environment:
One of the first things we did was to set a separate budget, for all employees, so they could purchase whatever they needed to create a comfortable working environment at home. We also started a number of social activities focused on well-being, to maintain high levels of employee engagement. Israelis are very social people, and they value the connections with colleagues, so we opened the office whenever we could, according to government guidelines, and made maximum efforts to keep social distancing. On the well-being side, we held healthy food and online cocktail mixing workshops. We sent numerous surprise boxes to employees at home with cakes and so forth, and held a toast on every holiday in the past few months. One way to declare success is the internal Hackathon we are holding this week, where groups are working online to try to win the event and collaborate with each other, despite the challenges of being remote.
The cultural challenge - establishing task teams to drive programs related to cultural aspects:
To perpetuate the social and cultural aspects of work remotely during the pandemic, PerimeterX team members have collaborated to host a number of online events including virtual escape rooms, cocktail classes, guest lectures, personal trainers, a Pride Month celebration, happy hours, and other gatherings. These have boosted morale and helped separate departments feel like a part of a greater team.
Employees have also set up a Work From Home Best Practices channel and a Parents channel on Slack to exchange helpful articles and personal strategies to make the most of their situation at home. Office managers have arranged virtual coffee breaks on Zoom so that team members can take a break and enjoy their coworkers’ company. Employees are also coming together in their own group workout sessions over Zoom to stay connected while being active. To provide employees’ children with additional activities, the HR team arranged an internal, kid-friendly coloring book featuring popular characters and PerimeterX themes.
The personal growth challenge - adjusting our learning and development capabilities while working remotely:
We took multiple initiatives here. We developed a working matrix for R&D employees that maps the professional position, including where they are now and where they want to go. This will enable us to prepare better for the future, and help them thrive professionally. All the while, we have kept one-on-one meetings with employees and discussed openly their route. Both before and during the Covid crisis, we have been strong believers in work-life balance, supporting a healthy lifestyle and encouraging employees to take breaks and time off, including adding company holidays to the calendar to regenerate and, reboost energy.
What are the two major HR challenges you believe companies are coping with these days due to the long-term remote work?
These days we are wrapping up a short but profound employee engagement survey to better understand the effects of the last few months. We are analyzing the data and based on the outcomes we will know what to focus on in the future. As a main priority, we are doing as much as possible to keep our employees highly engaged and motivated.