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Digital Workplace: Cleantech Culture Series, Vol. 1

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Long gone are the days where we wake up to commute to work, saying goodbye to the dog and our partners for the day. What was once the mundane low of our day is no longer a tragic endeavor- from home to the office is now from bed to the dining table. That is why we decided to take that time saved and introduce our newest series on our culture here at Awesense. In this series, we’re going to explore some of what makes us Awesense, a dedicated, passionate team of multi-disciplined and diverse individuals. In our first episode, we’re exploring how we’ve transitioned to a work-from-home environment, to a Digital Workplace, and how we as an organization have dealt with the issues associated with it. We hope to enlighten you on what has worked well for us this year. That’s also why we decided to start with the most important question of all- why?

Why Do We Work From Home?

Some cite COVID, other’s cite the technology that enabled the digital shift- like Zoom and Slack. But that technology existed long before, when business was synonymous for meetings in conference rooms and travel to coordinate with clients. In fact, business mobility was seen as a crucial success factor in years leading up to the digital transition, even for us. 

In 2019 and early 2020, Awesense employees regularly travelled across Canada and the USA to visit clients, partners and industry events. In October, before the pandemic, Awesense sent a big team to Seattle for GridFWD. By the next major industry event, DistribuTECH, held in San Antonio in late January, Covid-19 was becoming well documented and uncertainty began to rise. Nerves around travel were heightened when people began to travel with masks and visors. 

It didn’t take long for cases to skyrocket, and by March 12th when our local work from home order was announced, it was clear the world was only going in one direction. Some companies struggled to adapt to employees working from home; IT, security and logistical issues plagued the transition across the board. But Awesense’s transition was seamless for a few reasons.

Digital Workplace, Why Has It Worked So Well?

First of all, Awesense has always had a very strict work from home illness policy. When employees were feeling under the weather, they were always asked to stay home and work remotely, for their safety, and the safety of everyone else. Secondly, Awesense is a Cleantech software company. On a whole, Awesense employees are highly technical, work in an agile manner, and are more than capable of adapting to new technologies. Zoom, Slack, and Google Drive were already used regularly by the organization. We simply started using them more often and in more innovative ways. 

We began our work from home transition by taking our essential meetings and adapting them to a digital atmosphere and the digital workplace. We implemented virtual townhalls and weekly huddles for the wider team to get together, and virtual standups every morning for each team to sync before the day. Not only did this allow us to maintain our modus operandi, but even encouraged wider inclusion to meetings for those who previously were unable to attend. 

Our company culture is focused on inclusion and cooperation. Everyone turns their video on during every call, maintaining face to face interactions and strengthening the human aspects of working from home, fostering an inclusive environment. This is possible because of the comfort our employees feel sharing their personal space in the professional realm. This has allowed us to get to know a different side of our colleagues with a view into their home offices, and surprise visits from their pets! And as for cooperation, Awesense employee’s comfort working from home allows them to work with their teams to achieve their work goals, daily. 

Apply One, Apply All!

These COVID-19 triggered benefits later developed into more flexible hiring. Talent acquisition no longer needed to be focused in Vancouver, where our HQ is located. Today, we have opportunities for people across Canada.  This has allowed us to widen our pool of knowledgeable experts and gives opportunities to people in less advantaged communities. We are committed to workplace diversity, and this move allowed us to strengthen that initiative by hiring people outside advantaged city communities. We are unsure of when the pandemic will end, but we will likely continue to offer flexible working conditions for Awesense employees. 

Is That You, Future Of Work?

In addition, Awesense’s shift to flexible working policies and the digital workplace could be part of a major shift in the way human beings work going forward. Humans, and especially Canadians, have a deep connection to nature and the outdoors. Technology advancements and high speed internet mean living in expensive, busy cities, with high levels of air and noise pollution may no longer be necessary to access well paid employment opportunities. As a Cleantech company, our employees are deeply committed to mitigating climate change and protecting the environment- that involves connecting with nature on a personal level. Because of this, the Awesense team is no longer restricted to Vancouver as their home, and can move anywhere to be closer to nature. The Rocky Mountains, Selkirk, and Columbia Mountain Ranges, not known for their tech-hubs, could feasibly become home to many tech workers going forward. The work from home transition has decentralized working opportunities, in our case, for the better.

Technology companies have long been at the forefront of driving innovative changes, and this work from home shift. With support from the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook, this is now a reality. The pandemic has shown us that working from home, and being productive, is more than just possible, it’s probable. So why do we work from home? Not because we have to, but because it is the future that allows our employees to do their best work, and be their best selves. That future of work is here, and Awesense is proud to be leading the charge.