How can we learn to lead a startup during COVID-19

Our way of working (among many other things) has changed dramatically since March. I still remember the discussion about closing our offices. Our distributed team faced uncertain challenges despite already being prepared to work remotely.

While the rest still finds a way for all of us to go before working face-to-face, this year has already taught us a lot about what to do, and what not to do in an uncertain time. . As a tech company, during 2020 it has been fortunate in many ways that our employees can work safely from home, and our team pulled together remarkably well for adaptation.


Over-communicate, with empathy

We spent a lot of time making sure that we are effectively and empirically communicating changes and updates to our team of employees, customers, and investors. By creating the right channels and expectations around communication, being able to set expectations around results, keep our team in as much loop as possible.

When there are too many moving pieces, the hardest part can be tracking all the changes that were made. We made a concerted effort to replicate the changes we had made through multiple formats, and tried our best to explain what was behind. These are things that you should do, but should be given during simple times.

Go above and beyond for customers

Many of the brands we work with were directly influenced by travel restrictions, store closures and furloughs. While we were learning to adapt to the new normal, we decided to take additional steps to empathize with our customers in all areas of our organization.

We have transferred engineering, marketing and sales resources that were originally earmarked for new business development to prioritize existing customers. In addition, our customer success team volunteered to help our customers with various projects and services beyond the scope of work. Because we work in various different workspaces, we were also able to connect our customers and share best practices in real time.

Similar to internal updates, we communicated this through several media, including casual zoom happy hours, one-to-one calls, customer webinars, and various emails. It was a whole team effort, but showing for our customers during difficult times is part of the pact involved in the brands with which Pixley works.

Embrace the especially human parts of being a team

Everyone was, and to some extent still trying to find balance with the new normal. People’s working style has changed and we need to talk about it.

It is important to make room to talk about this because miscommunication can lead to self-inflamed wounds. ‘As a small organization, we took the time to explore each employee’s remote-working style and make quick changes:

  • Turn on your webcam during meetings if you can, human interaction helps!
  • When you are going offline for an offline task, slow the team down so that people do not expect feedback. Establish working hours and communicate when you are actively responding to messages.

From creating new niche dull channels (such as quarantine-kitchen, a channel dedicated to sharing our cooking creations), to providing an opportunity to openly and honestly share with the team, all of us as a team Feel closer.

What I’ve Learned, and What Changed

No one can fully guess where we are when the mandate goes into effect in March.

I did not have a desk for the first two months because I had a feeling that we would soon go back to the office, and so I did not want to make room for the desk in my small apartment.

If we could have made some better plans, we would have prepared for the long haul from house to house and suggested people to bring their monitors and other desk setups home to make better setups.

People I have talked to can change at least one aspect of managing this process. The truth is, we went to trust decisions with very different expectations and little quantitative information. Each day initially a new set of assumptions and questions were presented, many of which required us to form our own answers.

As mentioned earlier, hard times affect the final – hard people, and teams. Probably last year everyone wore extra hats and learned a lot. Even though the circumstances were challenging, I have chosen a better team for the season with the Hurricanes.

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T

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