How to move 300 people to full remote in 24 hours

An inside look at how Dailymotion managed the unprecedented COVID-19 situation

Karine Aubry
Mar 31 · 8 min read
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ost companies around the globe have rolled out mandatory remote work due to the unprecedented turn of events created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 24 hours, Dailymotion also had to go full remote. Our main priority was making sure that 100% of our employees worldwide were safe and able to work from their homes and to do so without breaking business continuity.

How to turn homes into workplaces?

Dailymotion is not new to remote work. We already allow occasional, temporary, and in some cases, full remote. But this is like comparing casual swimming with crossing the Channel. Saying that we were entirely ready to scale so much and so fast would be a lie. While anticipation was vital in this process, we obviously couldn’t predict everything, so adaptation ended up being even more important.

Set up

The first thing to establish is the technical requirements to operate your business securely in remote, for example, setting up VPNs and configuring your servers and machines. Then, you also need all the tools to collaborate efficiently — Zoom licenses, stable connections, shared folders and collaborative software.

Even though we already had all of this in place, for some of our people it was the first time they had to experience it. Non-tech teams, for example, are less used to working from home, mainly because of face-to-face interactions, which is at the core of their jobs (ex. Sales or HR people). Developers use occasional or temporary remote work the most often, but to work from home indefinitely, is a whole new story. Most of them require specific equipment and multiple screens to work, so we had to assess each team’s needs individually and find solutions to give them as much as we could at such short notice.

Administration

Dailymotion has offices worldwide (France, US, Ivory Coast, Singapore…), and legislations vary from one country to another, especially when it comes to social protection and regulation in this case. Our approach was to level up to the most generous legislation while ensuring, as far as possible, a comparable experience for all our employees. To parents with children, we offered the possibility to arrange their working hours or to take paid leave if they had to take care of their children.

There’s wasn’t much we could have done to anticipate the extra workload for our People Ops team. We simply made sure to map all the processes and benefits that would be impacted and anticipated all the possible questions our employees might have. We created an FAQ page updated daily, to help us handle all the inquiries and keep all important information in one place, easily accessible to the whole Dailymotion team, regardless of office and country.

Communication and collaboration

Another thing to consider was how this new reality would affect each team specifically by offering advice and guidance to all managers. We created some guidelines and tips for them to fall back on, such as organizing daily stand ups with their teams, enhancing their communication on the progress of projects and reminding them to be understanding with parents who now had young kids at home with them. We encouraged them to practice patience, and empathy and not worry about results before it’s even necessary. For now, our focus should be on achievement rather than activity.

How to ensure business continuity?

As you can imagine, going full remote is not just about giving access to laptops, Zoom, and Slack to everyone. It’s also about ensuring that our roadmap and our recruitment process will be maintained during this challenging period.

Risk anticipation

Most of the first day was spent in meetings anticipating and coming up with a back-up plan for every possible worst-case scenario. What if some of our employees get sick, what should be the protocol? What if one of the executives gets sick, who could make decisions on their behalf? What if the office stays empty for weeks, how do we secure it, how do we get the mail delivered? What if a particular team can’t work remotely for a specific reason, how could we work around this? Those and many more “what ifs” were passed around and answered with one or more plans to back them up; every time our main priority being the health and safety of our employees and their families.

For some of the questions, the answer was “easy”: change the delivery address to receive e-mails; sanitize the office, and get a list of lastest contacts if someone gets infected; improve security devices, and extend office security measures… However, some of them were a bit more tricky and forced us to be ready for the worst, like delegating decision powers and preparing back-up solutions in case one or more services couldn’t run anymore.

Roadmap and cadence

The first step was to reassure our employees about the impact that this situation could have on the business. Even though we’re required to have a particularly cautious approach towards our costs, it does not call into question our strategy for 2020. We might need to re-prioritize specific tasks in some teams; nevertheless, our mission cycles go on, and we will continue delivering in production.

We also needed to reassure our partners and users about our business continuity and offer them additional support and guidelines with our products. Through this time, we want to stay transparent, reassure our stakeholders, and keep their trust.

At the end of every week, we’ve had short online Q&A sessions to answer any questions our employees might have regarding the situation as it evolves. We will also hold a remote global All Hands with the full executive team to answer all questions concerning our business operations, financial health, and stability.

Hiring

One of our main challenges has been to figure out how to continue to engage candidates in our hiring process as well as the newcomers who are due to join us in the coming weeks. We decided that the last thing anyone needs during this time is to worry about their financial situation. We’re maintaining our hiring process and keeping our commitment to our future employees. By moving our hiring process entirely online, an interesting opportunity has arisen whereby team members can easily shadow interviews to improve their interviewing skills. We also found a way to move the entire on-boarding process remotely. Our IT team prepares and ships equipment prior to a new joiner’s starting day, while HR ensures that both managers and their new joiners feel comfortable and supported doing the whole online process. Everyone has been very responsive and flexible so far, understanding that we all have to adapt to these circumstances in our way.

How to keep our culture alive?

Is that it? Having the right materials and a clear vision of the roadmap is essential to work from home properly, but we believe that Dailymotion is a bit more than just a place where you work. What really brings us together is our shared culture, and it is in this period of social isolation that we see the real strength of our bond.

Nurturing our teams

What effects will full remote have on the teams and the bonds between them? When considering what constant isolation could do to our people’s moral, productivity and team spirit, and the fact that our company culture is based on a sense of belonging and championing each other, we know that now, more than ever, we will need to lean on our culture values and keep our sense of belonging going.

For this reason, we have decided to keep all the usual activities and office events, even if this means bringing them online. Newsletters, Stand-Ups, after-work happy hours, team lunches, and coffee breaks have all moved to Zoom. We have established a virtual cafeteria that people could pop in and out off to keep up on office gossip. During our office Stand-Up, we continue our tradition of getting to know our new joiners and celebrating Dailyversaries. It is also essential for us to keep our daily routine by checking in with our colleagues in the office and randomly slacking someone just to know how they are doing. We also changed our guidelines about Slack status updates, moving from identifying yourself as “remote” to updating your status several times each day to share indications of your current activity (“with kids”, “having lunch”, “on a call”, “writing something”, “in a videoconference”…).

Our daily dose of fun

We have also reactivated old abandoned Slack channels and added entirely new ones to make sure spending days locked in our homes will never become boring (#bookclub, #videogames, #animals, #music, #cooking…). Our people started organizing gaming sessions, Fifa competitions, Blind test challenges, online yoga classes, and literary debates. They created groups to share each other tips on which movies or series to binge, which new hobbies to pick up but also how to occupy their kids during this lockdown.

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One of the current most popular contests at Dailymotion is setting up the funniest Zoom background to surprise your co-workers. Give it a try! #zoom-background

We do not know how long the COVID-19 crisis will last, again, this situation is unprecedented and challenges every aspect of business operations for all companies. What we do know for sure is that we’re committed to helping our people get through this and to providing them with what they need, from technical needs to a sense of belonging. We might stumble along the way, but we’ll keep trying to listen and adapt, because caring for each other is, now more than ever, at the heart of our identity.

Note: This article was written collaboratively and remotely

Takeaways

  • Set up: establish the technical requirements to operate your business securely over remote, then assess individual team needs.
  • Administration: level up to the most generous legislation, offer to parents the possibility to arrange their working hours or to take paid leave, create an FAQ page updated daily.
  • Communication and collaboration: offer advice and guidance to all managers.
  • Risk anticipation: come up with back-up plans for every possible worst-case scenario.
  • Roadmap and cadence: re-prioritize tasks for some teams and answer all questions employees might raise.
  • Hiring: move hiring and on-boarding process online.
  • Community: rely on internal culture values and maintain all the usual activities and office events online.

Help your teams do the same and reach out to us if you need any advice. Stay safe, stay home.

Dailymotion

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