2020 has been a challenging year where change has been a constant. The scale on which COVID-19 has affected the world is mindboggling and coping with it can be overwhelming on your own.

At ZestMoney, we actively worked on supporting our people physically and emotionally while keeping them engaged because we genuinely believe that we should provide more than four walls to work within. As a result, the past few months saw us take up numerous initiatives as a company in order to invest in our folks and we think we’ve changed for the better as a result of it.

Perhaps one of the most important changes we made from the word go was seeking professional help. We decided to work with YourDost, an online counselling and emotional wellness platform so that Zesties could access professionally trained counsellors in case they ever needed them. YourDost also held regular and helpful sessions on how to cope with the psychological challenges of working from home, achieving emotional wellness, stress management tips and happiness hacks. 

Apart from this, though our founders have always had an ‘open office’ policy, they ensured that they would continue to be available virtually for any questions, concerns or even just random chats so that Zesties could still feel connected to their leadership. Maintaining this practice helped everyone gain a sense of constancy and normalcy. 

We also found it super important to make sure that Zesties are engaged and constantly learning, whether it’s about the internal workings of ZestMoney or about the industry at large. The first thing we needed was an effective communication tool and that came in the form of Slack. We leveraged the platform to facilitate internal communication as well as have some fun, which we’ll get into in just a bit.

We replaced lunch table and water cooler chats about what each respective department is up to into Discover ZeMo, a series of sessions where teams shared notes with the rest of the company based on a few key factors; what’s happening with the team, how did COVID impact them and how did each team turn those obstacles into opportunities. This helped Zesties learn more about the functionings within each team and gain some appreciation for each other’s work and the value it brings to the company, something they might not have been able to do otherwise. 

ZeMo Masterclass, on the other hand, were sessions held by experts in their respective industries who had experience in building great products and launching exceptional businesses across different verticals. Exclusively for ZestMoney, these sessions helped our Zesties gain deep insight into these industries and learn about a range of different topics, from environmental sustainability to stockbroking.

We also launched ZeMo Guru, a series of sessions held by Zesties and for Zesties on non-work related topics, like ‘the Science of Happiness’, ‘Managing Energies – Body & Mind’, ‘Wheel of life’, ‘Well-being while working from home’ and more. As the founders are particularly well versed in physical and mental well being, they held exclusive sessions with Zesties on how to stay fit and maintain their health at home. 

What yielded the best results out of all these engagement initiatives was having team-level catch-ups on a weekly basis to help each team connect, communicate and relate to each other. Not only did this allow teams to coordinate their work and timelines, but the simple act of talking to their team members afterwards about normal things and catching up on each other’s lives left everyone feeling like not much had changed after all.

We felt it was important to enable our Zesties to learn on their own and hone their skills in areas where they felt they needed a little help since working from home allows a little more flexibility in managing their time. This is why we introduced an e-learning allowance, where we would reimburse Zesties for the fee of a course of their choice up to INR 5000. We also introduced internet reimbursement, where we reimburse part of our Zesties’ bills since they’re working from home. 

Working remotely can be just as hard on the body as it can be on the mind; without the right set up, it’s uncomfortable and not conducive towards getting your best work done. We wanted to bring a little slice of the office into our Zesties’ homes, so we sent office chairs to those who wanted them to make working at home just a little comfier. We’re also well aware that have a sedentary lifestyle over the course of many months can take it’s toll so we sent goodie bags containing an assortment of healthy snack substitutes to our Zesties to encourage healthy eating habits without compromising on snacking!

Working hard and playing harder has always been a central part of our culture at ZestMoney. Our team did an exceptional job adapting and pivoting to a series of developments during the lockdown and their work helped us stand out in an industry that was having an incredibly difficult time. We wanted to help them unwind and make up for the lack of team outings and parties in other ways. Having Slack in place meant that virtual engagement and socializing was smoother than it would have been otherwise; it became our very own social media platform. 

We had numerous Slack Fun Challenges, so Zesties could share treasured moments with the rest of the team, like their best travel memories, fun office moments, cherished childhood memories and college madness with the #tbt series. After all, who doesn’t like pictures? We also introduced FriYays, where we have a 4.5 day work week by taking half of Friday off, which is something we try and do as much as we can. 

We continue to randomly share pictures, celebrate everything from World Tourism day to World Emoji Day and the women at ZestMoney have their own fun by throwing challenges like 70s themed or saree dress up and fitness challenges. All of this has only taught us that the more connected we are, the stronger we are and the better we are at achieving exceptional results. We’re working out the kinks but we’ve got a pretty decent handle on the new normal and we will continue to be there for each other as we figure out the rest of it.