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March 27, 2020 4 minute read

Adapting to Changing Times

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Bailey Douglass

Senior Director, People Operations

Note: Mode is free to any researcher or organization working with public health or epidemiology models. Same if you’re coordinating logistics for a food bank, or any org fighting #COVID19 from the front line. Send ’em here: hi@modeanalytics.com.


Being at work is different today than it was yesterday, and will be different tomorrow than it is today. Times of unprecedented change and unpredictability are a stress test on any company's values.

Two weeks ago, our CMO shared some early wins on our quick transition to remote work. Today, we’re looking at a much larger change than we realized then. We—our team members, our users, our entire community—are all figuring out what this means and how to thrive as a business and support each other during this time.

We’re certainly still figuring things out, but along the way, here’s what I’ve learned on how we support our community while keeping pace on our business goals.

Let your values and the data lead your decision-making

At Mode we have very well-defined values that guide the way we do business. This has been true since shortly after we were founded and is non-negotiable. It’s also critical that we act decisively and rationally at a time when emotions are running high and decision fatigue is real. Revisit the KPIs that are driving your business, confirm that they are still the correct ones, and work with your data team to understand what decisions will help drive those metrics.

Maintain flexibility, accountability, and measurable outcomes

Team members are dealing with tremendous unexpected circumstances that force them to work different hours, from new locations, with new “coworkers”—family members or newly-homeschooled children for whom they have care responsibilities. During this time it’s important to listen and know about individual needs and situations, and figure out which path forward will work best. Every member of the team must have clear responsibilities and know how their success will be measured with a reporting mechanism for these outcomes, or we are adding stress onto too many other rapid changes.

Use kindness and compassion—speak with purpose and assume best intent

All of us are living in stressful and unpredictable circumstances. We need to be gentle with each other, providing feedback through kind, honest words, and assume that everyone means well and is trying their best. If a Slack conversation is getting contentious, default to switching to video chat quickly, and take a break if you can feel yourself becoming agitated. We’re all in this together.

Support the community but make room for personal space

Create spaces for your team members to connect, about work and otherwise. For us, this has come in the form of open invitations to Zoom meetings over lunch and happy hours, company-sponsored movie nights on Slack, and lots of ad hoc and team-based groups. It’s also been important to acknowledge that even when we are physically separated, so much digital togetherness can be overwhelming—each person needs downtime and should know that all social activities should be optional.

Resources for community and collaboration

In the spirit of community and collaboration, I’ve assembled a few resources below. We also opened up a community discussion on Zoom where we shared more on our learnings through these challenges and asked folks to share what’s worked for them.

Fostering resiliency and psychological safety on your team LifeLabs has been doing lots of fantastic work building resources and opening conversations between managers. We found this playbook on supporting your team and fostering resiliency to be particularly helpful.

Remote work best practices This webinar from our friends at Oak and Reeds (we were one of their first customers!) gives tips on setting up a workspace, keeping a healthy separation between work and personal spaces and taking care of your mental health while working from home.

Approaches to decision making This blog post from Mode’s President Benn Stancil discusses some of the ways we think about data-driven decision-making.

Just for fun This post from Buzzfeed (a Mode customer) gave us some nice suggestions for lighthearted content just at the right time!

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