HR Post Covid
Virtual Yoga? Not for ClimaCell
When other companies rushed to give employees Covid-19 perks, ClimaCell instead asked its team what they wanted. This is what they said
In an attempt to bring teams together, many companies organized virtual Happy Hours, or yoga and cooking events, to make sure people stayed connected with their employees. Weather data solution ClimaCell, did one better.“From the beginning, it was clear to us that especially now, tough times require transparency and collaboration in order to keep trust and to go through this together,” explained Osnat Barak, ClimaCell’s Chief People & Culture, GM IL. “We learned, for example, that yoga/cooking classes that created a lot of hype in other organizations were not what our employees needed. On the contrary: They needed time for themselves.” Osnat Barak, Chief People & Culture, GM IL Field of Activity: ClimaCell is a SaaS platform turning weather data into actionable insights to optimize revenue and reduce costs for companies from all over the world including Uber, AWS, United Airlines, and more. Number of employees/location: 110 employees in offices around the world. The company is an American company with headquarters in Boston and additional offices in Boulder Colorado, Tel Aviv, and Singapore. Professional background of HR Manager: For the past 20 years I’ve been leading people and culture domains, supporting startup growth. My passion is helping teams and leaders to build successful companies at scale. I Joined ClimaCell three years ago while living in Boston as the Chief People and Culture. I recently moved back to Israel and added the responsibility as the General Manager of the Israeli site as well. On a scale of 1-10, how much did the coronavirus pandemic disrupt operations at the company? Our company’s ethos is about putting people first, making an impact, and showing true grit. These proved extremely helpful going through this tough period. The pandemic made us look at everything from different angles and re-evaluate reality. Our main concerns were to create an atmosphere that would enable a successful work from home, to retain employees’ sense of belonging, and to ensure that ClimaCell’s employees feel supported. The bonus is that the new normal allowed us to open our recruiting efforts to many new locations. It doesn't matter to us anymore where you live or what schedule you keep, there are no boundaries in the Zoom world. This created amazing opportunities also for current employees to work from different places like Costa Rica, Taiwan, or Greece.
The first one is to keep working on the sense of belonging. People are at home, alone, and are mainly in touch with the same small group of people in the company. We are focusing on personalization and meeting the employees in their meaningful moments -- both personal and professional (e.g., promotions, anniversaries, a work schedule that attends to specific employees’ personal needs, etc). In 2020, my team and I went to visit each of the employees at their homes, we sent flowers to their parents during the holidays to thank them for supporting us during these challenging times and share with them how much we appreciated everything their kids were doing for ClimaCell. We also wanted to show our employees that we care about what they care about -- their families.
The second challenge is around the acclimation of new employees. We updated the onboarding process for those new employees starting to work from home. Starting a new job is always complicated in the first few days, especially while working from home, as this is a new phenomenon after all. We have worked hard on how to connect them as soon as possible and how to help them feel that they belong to the ClimaCell team and hit the ground running. Building informal relationships that can turn into friendships is both important and harder to do for new employees starting these days.Are you actively recruiting? If so, what is the process and where can the applicants find you? Currently, we have open positions for 20 people in the U.S and Israel. The positions are varied - Product, R&D, Sales & Customer Success. The process always starts with a phone call with the recruiting manager to set expectations. The next step is professional interviews which are followed by a virtual coffee with the team. Nothing can build relationships better than meeting their future peers themselves. This part is more laid back with a focus on “get to know each other” conversations. We always include a behavioral interview and we screen for references. All of our positions are published on our website and the various social networks. Which changes forced upon you by the circumstances will stay in place after Covid-19 is over, and which are you most eager to revert back to normal? We have understood that we can be effective while working from home but we all miss socializing. I believe the work from home will be part of our lives after Covid-19 as well in some percentage like a hybrid model. Having said that, a lot of our belief system has changed: we found out that we can build a meaningful relationship even without meeting face-to-face. The geographical site is secondary due to schedule flexibility and Zoom. Suddenly we all work in our sweats, we get to know family members through the Zoom lens, and we are all going through this together. Strangely enough, this has brought us closer together. We have always believed in giving employees independence, personal responsibility, and measuring outcomes but these things have gotten even stronger in ClimaCell’s culture. For me personally, this period is ambivalent - on one hand, I got back to Israel, I got to rethink so many beliefs, and I think we are all much humbler than before. On the other hand, I’m missing a great part of my role and what I love the most about it - and it’s to meet people. But really meet them.