This is our story of how we tried to maintain the Vanti spirit during the COVID-19 pandemic and the multiple lockdowns.
We’ll focus on how we cared for our tight-knit culture, how our people overcame enormous personal and professional challenges, and ultimately how fortunate we were to still be able to do some amazing work.
What is the Vanti culture?
Lots of people think that a good workplace culture comes from a pool table, or staying out after work at the pub, or big team away days.
All these things are great, we love them as much as anyone. But this isn’t what culture means to Vanti.
For us it’s about supporting everyone who works here. They should be happy at work! We take lots of tiny little steps that contribute towards the bigger culture picture, which then helps us to produce phenomenal cutting-edge solutions for our clients, and this drives Vanti, year after year.
Despite the crazy times of 2020 we still functioned really well as a team, consistently delivered on our projects, and even managed to take on a few new people! However, we also recognise that we are really lucky to be in this position, and it is a tribute to our amazing team that we managed to stick this out!
What processes support our culture?
People work best in different ways. Not everyone loves strict hours in an office. To support our office-based teams, we have engrained remote working into our culture. So, when the UK went into lockdown in March 2020 due to COVID-19, we were already on the front foot to continue to deliver on our sales, design, development, and support services. It wasn’t quite so straightforward for our site-based teams; more on that later.
Rolling with each punch as it came, we established remote check-ins from a wellbeing perspective, and we scheduled in more team catchups, as well as company-wide all-hands calls!
Unfortunately, then came the dreaded video call fatigue, and we definitely weren’t the only organisation feeling this.
Quick thinking saved us again here. We now have a short check-in with everyone in each call (just like we used to in in-person meetings) so we can see how they’re feeling, and we try to use this to communicate more sensitively with each other. Another quick win was reducing the length of calls from an hour to fifty minutes, so that those with back-to-back calls can have a breather in-between.
These sound like obvious things to do but came from a lot of head scratching and critical thinking. We devoted a lot of time to ensuring we handled the difficulties of going largely remote correctly because we genuinely care about our people and we want them to be feeling their best.
However, our culture processes only worked for office-based teams
As mentioned, Vanti has individuals who mostly work on site, such as our amazing team of Engineers. A significant amount of our project delivery takes place on site, and this generates a large portion of our revenue. In a sense we were extremely fortunate to be able to carry out project work as this meant we were able to fulfil our duties to our clients and this kept Vanti afloat.
However, the stress and anxiety of travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be understated; our Engineering Team formed a working bubble and everyone was committed to keeping it COVID-free – if one of them had been lax, they could have forced the whole team into self-isolation. Immediately ceasing work.
Moreover, everyone who needs to be on site to do their job wasn’t able to take advantage of our remote working policy, check-ins, and every single all-hands call as they were often up against strict deadlines when on site.
We want to celebrate the Engineering Team’s achievement during this period, as well as anyone who helped ensure site work could carried on or held down the fort at Vanti HQ.
Vanti is in a very fortunate place from a financial and client relationship perspective because of the efforts of those who have remained at the front line of project delivery.
This isn’t the first time we’ve struggled to create a consistent experience across our onsite team and our office-based team, but it was more difficult than ever to maintain a sense of ‘one Vanti’. It’s been far from perfect and it’s not something we’ve managed to fully resolve, which is one of the reasons we’re looking forward to everyone being able to share a space at our HQ once more.
Despite video-calls and flexible working, lockdown was still extremely hard
As much as we tried to get together over Zoom and Teams, deep down we knew it wasn’t quite the same.
Loads of us reported, and continue to report, feeling tired, anxious, not sleeping well, isolated, and lacking in motivation. Those with families are still struggling with home schooling as well as carrying out their day-to-day tasks.
We were as flexible as possible to accommodate all these feelings and difficulties, which certainly helped to reassure people, but it never felt like quite enough.
With all this in mind, it’s an absolute tribute to our team that we stayed on track with our deliverables and hit our goals.
Finally, we also recognise how lucky we are
During the pandemic, and the lockdowns, we were so fortunate that the demand in our sector never really slowed. If anything, it increased, with clients using our expertise in occupancy sensing to help support social distancing measures within their spaces, as well as tech to support their remote working initiatives. However, our business-as-usual work continued. We assisted our clients in creating fully ‘smart’ spaces that enable hybrid onsite/remote working; utilising resource management software to help make informed operational decisions that increase safety and space optimisation.
We know that this wasn’t the case for every organisation, it’s been an extremely tough year and our circumstances could have been very different. Our hearts go out to each and every individual who have not been as fortunate as we have.