What a year! It’s been a roller coaster ride for the whole world, and as the year comes to an end, the future still remains unclear. A lot has changed in 2020 for everyone, and our company is no exception. It was a year where we were challenged to try out new approaches, to adjust and adapt continually to the ever-changing situation, and to find company-specific solutions to all kinds of challenges.

It was a year with very little personal contact, but also a year of great company success: quite simply, it was a very unusual year for Greentube! The uncertainty 2020 brought with it was new even to our ever-changing and fast-paced industry, but with this uncertainty came innovation, inspiration and the drive to make the best out of the cards we were given.

The covid-19 outbreak in Austria and our first reactions

The year 2020 started romantically for Greentube. Our new online casino game Romeo & Juliet – Sealed with a Kiss was revealed at London’s ICE, opening up a romantic world to our gamers. Meanwhile, in Vienna, we kicked off a year full of new projects, ideas and dreams. The first COVID-19 rumours began to reach us by mid-February, but at the time, we were not aware of the world-changing implications that were to follow. However our Management board made sure to be prepared for the implications to our company and our employees.

This was, without doubt, one of the reasons why our transition to working from home went so smoothly. Yes, we are an online company, but working from home has never been standard practice for us. On the contrary, we were very used to being in the office, having face-to-face meetings, working next to each other, proud of our open-door policies and the easy, barrier-free communication.

At the end of February, the first measures at Greentube were taken. Events had to be cancelled, our Town Hall Meeting was recorded instead of having a live talk in front of the whole Vienna office, business trips were cancelled, and social distancing in the office was encouraged. In addition to this, the strategy to allow employees to work from home was planned and implemented. On the 12th of March, everybody worked at home for a trial-day before it was even suggested by the Austrian government. Due to the tremendous work of our IT department and the discipline of our employees, this first trial day went well and the first lockdown phase, starting from the 16th of March, did not affect our productivity.

From the 23rd of March, teleworking was implemented as an option for every Greentube/Funstage employee to make sure our employees felt safe and not obliged to come to the office.

Covid-19 meets personnel development

As various procedures and processes had to be changed when Covid-19 hit us, the first action we had to undertake was not necessarily challenging but very time-consuming: The cancellation of all training projects and conferences. With about 30 booking requests per month, this was a real challenge! After these cancellations, the second problem was how to deliver information and skills our managers need in order to keep their teams motivated, safe and well-informed. The solution was to offer E-Learning opportunities and defined learning paths focusing on onboarding, leadership and motivation remotely. Our planned internal workshops on leadership development have since been offered online and have been very well received!

After a couple of weeks with relatively low booking requests, training providers managed to change their offers to online formats and so our employees started to accommodate. The personnel training requests increased, and at the same time, we managed to organise free access for every employee to an online E-learning platform. During this stage, we also learned a lot and developed as we grew and adapted to the new circumstances. We have learned to moderate workshops online. We now consult with our employees remotely, and we have started to record videos for new recruits and existing employees, which has been a very new and exciting experience! We are confident that this knowledge will also help us in the future.

We also encouraged our employees to get in touch with us regarding their questions and doubts. However, these adaptations were only the beginning of our journey during 2020. Further measures were introduced in order to cope with the new world of digital working in 2020.

Measures taken and introduced in 2020

Our company found different solutions for all of our internal target groups. As a result, a lot of processes changed or had to be adapted, and we would like to give you a glimpse of what happened.

While in the office, employees were encouraged to keep their distance by having at least one desk between two employees. Sitting in front of each other was avoided and diagonal seating was recommended. To ensure this, only 50% of a team was allowed to be in the office at the same time. Also, face-to-face meetings were avoided whenever possible. If this was not feasible, masks had to be worn even during meetings – this was also mandatory for externals visiting the office. Employees were encouraged to use the stairs and avoid using the elevator. Our Facility Management team made sure that hand sanitizers were available in all office areas, especially at the main entrance and on the entrances to each floor. As already mentioned, desks and chairs were delivered to employees’ homes if needed to make working from home possible. Our Greentube restaurant took safety measures when it was allowed to be open again after the first lockdown in Austria so that our employees were still provided with freshly cooked meals. Additionally, the restaurant extended the offer by providing fresh and frozen takeaway meals for colleagues working from home.

From the employees’ perspective, how they managed to cope with the situation of working from home was highly dependent on their private environment and the facilities at their disposal. The initial experiences were therefore very different, but so were the needs and requirements of our employees. Some needed multiple screens; some did not have a separate working space away from their family; some lacked the internet connection to carry out their tasks from home. An additional challenge was posed by our employees who also had to care for their children at the same time. Greentube tried to support its employees as well as possible by offering them the opportunity to take special vacation days (“Sonderurlaub”), as promised by the government. Employees were also allowed to pick up monitors from the office or order additional equipment.

Despite the challenging times, we did not want to prevent people from carrying on with their professional training and development, which is why we implemented an E-learning platform for all of our employees to access for free. In addition to this, online training videos were produced internally. Due to the success of these, we are currently working on creating videos to guide new employees through the whole onboarding journey at Greentube online.

The importance of the Intranet

The Intranet is a common communication tool, which is often neglected or not appreciated as much as it should be by companies. The Covid-19 situation proved once again just how important a communication tool really is.

From an employee’s point-of-view, over the course of 2020, the Intranet has become what the kitchenettes, the corridors or the desk neighbours were before – the connection to the daily working life at the company.  Latest news regarding working from home, information about the current pandemic situation, planned and ongoing national restrictions and much more are provided on the Intranet.

From an internal communication perspective, it has become an integral part of daily business and a communication channel we could not do without. The number of our internal articles has more than doubled in 2020. In March, we published eight different articles concerning different aspects of the “new reality”. The first thing we did in the morning was to check the official news for any updates. As the information often came in German, we had to summarize, translate and proofread it. All of us became experts on things such as: How to wear a protective face mask in the correct way, how to wash our hands properly, what “flatten the curve” is all about and how the reproduction value may influence the upcoming days and weeks. We had a full schedule, but at the same time, it was great to see that we could provide people with information that also guided them through these turbulent times!

How did Covid-19 impact recruiting? 

To say that the way we had to re-think certain aspects of our recruiting and onboarding process in 2020 is an understatement, but it is a challenge we accepted and adapted to as smoothly as possible. Over the course of the year, face-to-face interviews became more difficult to carry out. Before Covid-19, we often insisted on having at least one interview round in the office to meet our candidates in person, showing the applicant around in the building, introducing the respective team, etc. This was true for ALL applicants, even the ones we had to fly in from the other side of the world. We thought (and still do) that this is an essential step to take before hiring somebody, to be able to get a better understanding of the person in person. But difficult times call for changes, so we decided to go against our own instinct and try a different approach.

In a lot of cases for the rest of the year, the second-round interview was also done remotely, even if that meant transferring our assignments to the online world or having the team chat afterwards online as well. It is not an easy task to decide whether an applicant has a cultural fit with the company without ever having met the candidate in person. Nevertheless, we took the risk, placed trust in our experience, and made the decisions without the face-to-face meeting.

Only time will tell how successful we have been in 2020, but we have no doubt that this was the best and safest process to protect the health and well-being of all parties involved. Despite this, we won’t lie – the reality is that it was not an easy situation to deal with neither for us recruiters nor for the hiring managers and, of course, the applicants themselves. As a result, we will not proceed with this approach once the conditions allow us to carry out at least one face-to-face interview again. It has been a valuable experience for us as recruiters. However, over the course of the year, we had to find additional strategies to get a better feel for the candidates during the online sessions. Luckily, due to our international recruiting approach, we were already used to having online interviews on a regular basis.

After a new employee joined the company, we tried to set up the first onboarding phase in the office whenever possible and when the respective team leaders were in support of this.  Having employees in the office always increases the risk of infection, which is why we ensured that all necessary measures were in place. Wearing a face mask was made compulsory when in public office areas (like kitchens, elevators etc.), and masks were provided for every employee.

Employer Branding

In 2020, we also wanted to engage and grow in regards to Employer Branding. The increasing maturity of the company requires an effective and professional Employer Branding strategy. As you may expect, the Covid-19 crisis put a very large spanner in the majority of our plans, making their execution more difficult. But, as mentioned earlier, these difficult times also encouraged innovation.

Unfortunately, our biggest annual events, the Team Day and the Christmas Party had to be cancelled – while this was disappointing, it gave us the chance to prioritise other projects that turned out to be great successes. In 2020 we launched Greentube Careers, a new social media project dedicated to employee branding and recruiting with the goal of providing even more insights into the company for both internal employees, potential applicants and experts in the field.

The last events we managed to have in-person happened in February 2020; these were a darts event in the office and a night skiing event at Zauberberg/Semmering. Due to the lockdown and working from home situation, we had to reschedule other planned events and find new and innovative ways to encourage interaction.  For this, we came up with regular after-work events such as yoga classes, online ‘escape the home office’ games, an online pub quiz. In the end, even the Christmas party was held virtually. More innovative events are also planned for 2021.

Furthermore, some additional health measures and sports campaigns were set up to encourage people to keep moving at home. To offer a substitute for the popular Business Run, we set up a company-wide Greentube Running Challenge, which ‘ran’ between August and October. Greentube employees could participate in an internal running challenge via a tracking tool. A virtual Wings4Life Run was also introduced and promoted.

The hashtag #GreentubeStaysHome was created. Through social media campaigns for our external followers but also employees, we tried to increase the mutual exchange and communication. Our employees were asked to engage and participate in various challenges and share photos of their time working from home. The topics varied from week to week and we asked people to show off their cooking skills, introduce their pet assistant or share their workout routines.

In addition to this, we also continued and encouraged our employees to help the community. We supported donation campaigns and asked our employees to donate their Wiener Gastro Gutschein for people in need. Additionally we were still able to complete our planned donations, like “Team Christkind” at the end of the year, always, of course, in consideration of the current safety measures.

As a last surprise this year, our employees got their Christmas presents sent to their home address.  

What have we learned from 2020, and outlook on 2021

Even though this pandemic came unforeseen and hit the whole world to an extent no one could have predicted at the beginning of 2020, it has brought us closer together as a company. In terms of mindset, social responsibility, efficiency, and understanding each other, we have grown together as a company. We’ve quickly adapted to working from home without complaints or bigger problems. Naturally, any online business could be seen as pre-destined for remote working situations, but before Covid-19, this could not be said for our headquarters in Vienna.

We feel even more blessed now to have such a strong team that was not only able to adapt so quickly but also achieve tremendous results in 2020 and start preparing and working on promising projects for 2021 already.

As we come to the end of this article, we hope we have been able to give you a good overview of the year 2020. It was important for us to show that this special year was not only a year of challenges but also a year in which we learned a lot, a year in which we saw how important it is to support each other and to learn to adapt whenever a situation asks for it.

We, the HR department at Greentube, wish you all a Happy New Year and the best of luck and success in 2021!