Polina Khabarova is CROC’s Deputy Director General, Chief Transformation Officer and HRD, contributing to the company’s strategic development as an internal transformation thought leader. She is responsible for supporting and supervising all HR department practices, including staff training and education, recruitment, human relations, corporate culture, and internal communications. Together with the Transformation Office team, Polina also advises top managers of leading Russian and international companies on business transformation.
The Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped both market requirements and workplaces. Even though the trend towards remote work is not new, this spring people all around the world experienced a rapid shift to #workathome habits. Businesses, regardless of size, witnessed the huge challenge of adjusting their corporate cultures and helping employees adapt and remain productive during the pandemic. The IT industry has become a frontliner to meet this challenge and help other industries to survive. They say, If You Want to Change the World, Start with Yourself First. With this in mind, the IT company CROC announced its digital transformation plan two years ago and still continues on its digital journey. As a result, the company has turned out to be not only well-prepared for the digital challenges of this pandemic time, but also capable of offering effective anti-crisis solutions to customers. CROC is also happy to share some HR tips and hints on how to initiate a change in one’s company and how to encourage employees in their home offices. It is important to rethink corporate culture, focusing on innovations, as an organic digital transformation is crucial. However, starting this digital transformation means gaining support from business owners and members of the Board of Directors, as they can lead and balance cross-functional collaboration, as well as showing how to get involved in the transformation processes in the most effective manner. At the same time, it is important to talk to doubtful employees. This is quite OK, especially in the first stage when kicking off the transformation, since not everybody is convinced of its feasibility and benefits. This is why it is necessary to explain what is going on, openly tell people what will be changed and why, thus eliminating organizational and communication barriers. Digital transformation cannot be finished within a few months, it is a long-lasting process of improvement and adaptation to customers’ demands, market needs and uncertainties. Predicting the self-isolation regime a few weeks before it was officially introduced all across Russia, CROC initiated a shift to remote work and launched a COVID-19 hotline, which any employee can easily access to receive a consultation on health issues, request a blood test or call for a doctor. Later on, the company introduced online daily morning exercises, which employees eagerly join, even with their family members. The CEO is taking part in this activity as well and once he even demonstrated his own set of exercises. Telegram tools for internal communications have become more popular and helpful. CROCNews channel (a tool to share news, and announce activities and partner’s offers) has seen a 1.5x increase in the number of subscribers, up to over 1,100 people a month. Employees can also take part in regular surveys related to remote work and share their worries about what can be improved on a corporate level. At the same time, the CROC chatbot (a tool to get colleagues’ contact details quickly, request remote technical support, check salary status, etc.) is actively used. A few new digital corporate activities were introduced as anti-crisis measures by the CROC HR team. For example, top managers have started running online weekly coffee breaks with employees in a video call format. Remarkably, every third employee regularly shows up there. In addition, a lot of entertaining activities were started such as online weekly team building events, like quizzes, mafia, etc., with a corporate branded background being developed for Zoom conferences. A landing page with over 100 special offers related to sports, arts and online parties was launched for employees, their families and friends. Notably, CROC employees while working remotely have become more involved in corporate social responsibility activities, with an eco-responsibility initiative being already in place and two more just coming: skill-based volunteering and women in tech.