September 25, 2020

Chronicles through Covid-19 – Conversations, Compassion, Communication and Collaboration

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people around the world live and work. Like many, ENGEO embraced the great work from home experience and continued to serve our essential workers on active development and construction projects. Since March, ENGEO has continued to adapt to the ever-changing situation, has overcome common challenges, and has celebrated the unexpected positive changes and experiences that have presented themselves.

We caught up with a few of our ENGEO leaders to gain some perspective on the last few months. From common challenges to unexpected positives, compassion has been the key.

Uri Eliahu, President

“I believe the most effective things that have contributed to our success during this COVID period were in place way, way before this pandemic. It is really about our wonderful people, our culture of mutual support and the solid commitment we have to each other’s success.

One of our larger clients, for example, who engaged us for the first time just as covid began, so we have not yet had the opportunity to interact with them in person. They don’t know us any way other than through video conferencing. It speaks volumes about our employees who have done an amazing job given that here’s a very large client that we have never actually met face to face, it’s quite remarkable.

Clients were very supportive during this time, as we all had to learn how to do things ‘virtually’, together. We learnt to replace face-to-face meetings with technology. While we’re very eager to be together in our offices, in some instances, we’ve actually become closer to clients, as we have had the opportunity of more one on ones, that may have previously been one on many in a wider meeting. Surprisingly, there is also a greater tendency to share personal stories and experiences in this environment because we are all experiencing the same situational unknowns. Someone might be sitting around wearing a T shirt because they just arrived back from walking their dog as an example, and that can spark a discussion on a personal level, bringing us closer together.”

Valerie Davis, Director, Human Resources 

“This has been an especially difficult situation for someone like myself, who loves people and constant in-person conversations with others! Finding a leadership flow that works for ENGEO was a group effort and would have been impossible without three constants: compassion, communication, and collaboration.

Isolation has been a big concern with remote work. We found that people missed the friendly conversations and naturally looked for ways to maintain a social connection. Most, if not all, offices held virtual happy hours or game nights, daily trivia in the morning, and other virtual events.

We also held weekly, 30-minute business strategy meetings, which had company-wide participation as people longed for communication, connection, and leadership. With these events and the implementation of video conferencing tools like Zoom and Teams, everyone worked together to remain connected.

Compassion is crucial as we deal with constant change and consider the best remote-work option for ENGEO employees on a case-by-case basis. We asked all leaders to be flexible with each person’s needs and situations, and to perform regular check-ins with those they serve to ensure they have support at home.”

Guy Cassidy, CEO ENGEO NZ / Australia 

“From day one of the COVID lockdown we recognised that many of us were nervous and unsettled with the unknowns this pandemic posed for our families, business and nation as a whole. And, understandably so. In order to provide some level of comfort, and to allow us all to function at our best while focusing on all the important things (like our families, colleagues and clients) we immediately communicated that everyone would remain on full pay and there would be no mass-redundancies during this troublesome time. We all had enough to focus on over the coming weeks and months. The resultant effect was a higher degree of employee engagement, effort, and goodwill across all offices. This enabled us to serve our clients well during lockdown and hit the ground running immediately when we were allowed back onto our job sites.

One of the unexpected positives I found during the COVID lockdown in New Zealand and Australia was the fact that our people deliberately prioritised connection with others via phone and video conferencing. Given we were all working from home for over a month we faced the real risk of disconnection between our 100 colleagues throughout Australasia. After all, we are all tribal creatures and crave human interaction to some degree. However, the kindness and tenacity of our ENGEO family resulted in a conscious effort to regularly connect with one another. Moreover, I have found that this deliberate act of reaching out to demonstrate we care has become addictive for us and it continues pervasively throughout our ENGEO family across the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean!”

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