This past Wednesday, CoFounder and CEO Felicite Moorman hosted the inaugural Wednesdays at 1 webinar to address how STRATIS is strengthening ourselves and our partners during this COVID-19 pandemic. Add this event to your weekly calendar by registering here.
Felicite kicked off the call with a few pre-collected questions then opened it up to audience questions. Ryan Buchert, CoFounder and CTO also chimed in. (Answers edited for clarity and brevity)
STRATIS recently has released a “strengthening ourselves and our partners amidst COVID19” business continuity response. For those who haven’t seen it yet, would you mind giving a quick summary?
The first thing we did was refine our mailing lists for our Property Managers, especially as they must be inundated with emails right now. We kept it very brief and concise, and communicated that we are not only keeping service the same, but also increasing support through additional trainings and such. With 1200 properties that’s about 6000 Property Managers and Owners.
So, we refined our mailing lists, and we said, “we’re here for you.”
What was your decision-making process like with changes to how the STRATIS team works in the face of this pandemic?
Life comes at you fast, and it’s coming faster now.
First step was to come together as a leadership team and discuss our priorities.
Ryan–for us it started pretty far back because of supply chains in China, and how that affected our business. We communicated with manufacturer partners and with partners about current and future hardware commitments. We came together every 24 hours to discuss supply chain issues.
We published an internal team living document to set expectations around travel policies, personal planning, and resiliency principles. How were we thinking about what? This helped us see gaps because our team is really proactive with communicating.
We gave weekly updates which became daily updates and on Tuesday March 10th, it was AM/PM communication.
We created a #covid19 Slack channel, so people could opt-in to participation. (Edit: After a meeting with the Inclusion Diversity Equity Access (IDEA) team, they created the #stay-connected channel, which is specifically to share strategies, ideas, and resources for how we can stay connected to ourselves and to each other while we are working remotely and practicing social distancing.)
As a business leader, what recommendations do you have for your peers, especially at startups, to make a positive impact during this time?
Here at STRATIS I consider us privileged that we can work from home.
For me it was a very emotional decision to close our doors, before the City of Philadelphia mandate. It was hard for me to do before someone else brought it up to me. In the flatten the curve philosophy, it’s the right thing to do, if you have a business that can. (Flatten the curve logic is that if we continue with our daily lives without any intervention, hospital infrastructure will be overwhelmed, but if organizations can shift to working from home and people stay at home except for absolutely necessary outings/errands, there is much less transmission of the coronavirus and the healthcare system can treat people better as they would not be as resource-constrained as if there were no interventions.)
With “flatten the curve” as a business leader, we can decrease the strain on our healthcare workers and hospital infrastructure to give them time to respond with less stress.
For us, this has been social distancing (virtual social interactions + only leaving home when needed), limiting travel unless absolutely necessary, and relying on partners in the industry.
We’ve also been getting many calls to action to help the community, and that’s shown there’s a lot more that unites us than separates us.
What is your strategy for continuing to drive new opportunities in the face of only having a virtual environment?
As soon as we decided to do our part to flatten the curve and eliminate unnecessary contact, we took a hard look at sales and installation processes.
We eliminated waste internally, whether that was time, money, or communication. Ryan, my CoFounder, our COO Sean, and I sat down for 32 hours over two days and asked, “If this is our new perpetual reality, how do we change how we do things?”
Ryan–We have to focus more on the right people, like who are the decision makers? Before, everyone can go to the site and have a meeting, but that can’t happen anymore.
We are creating more urgency and precision. With potential clients, we’re looking for new needs for both us and them and connect if that opportunity makes sense for both of us.
For townhall-type check-ins without specific action items, what is your agenda and how do you keep everybody engaged?
For the 10 minute 9 AM meeting, we start with a “Connect Question.” We are watching as much for who is there as much as who isn’t there, so we can be proactive about team members who may be struggling.
Today’s question was “What’s for breakfast?” Yesterday’s was “What’s one thing you’re grateful for today?” It’s something that everybody can connect with.
Today we had a guest pirate who made it the best meeting I’ve been to in my life..a baby, a cat, and a pirate joined.
Fridays have a little more agenda.
Our Friday afternoon all-hands began when we noticed people tended to work all weekend long. It wasn’t the culture we wanted. Kelly Campbell, our Chief Engineer, was integral to shifting our culture to add in all-hands.
The agenda includes updates from leadership, birthdays/work anniversaries/informal shoutouts, promotions, demonstrations (ex. Engineering team shows off new features, marketing team shows off new collaterals, etc), and almanac (metrics for the business).
Ryan–This works well from home, and it extends itself very nicely to let people know what’s going on if they don’t see each other, and bring people together.
We had already been sharing a Zoom link for our remote team members, and now the Zoom is for everyone. The more remote workers, the more I recommend it.
Tips for increased networking on LinkedIn?
Linkedin is my favorite, and this is a great time to connect. Shift your invite…maybe right now don’t say “I’d love to meet up for coffee or lunch.”
People are spending a lot of time, maybe double going by the metrics from my own LinkedIn.
Now is a great time to update information so it’s relevant and current. Pretend like you’re going on vacation tomorrow for a year and need a new job after that.
Go endorse people you haven’t seen in a while if you genuinely want to reconnect.
Go like, comment, write something yourself! Get editing help if that’s not your thing. Don’t be afraid to post.
What are the best childcare tactics?
My heart is with you.
I homeschooled and worked for several years. Not alone, I did this with my husband and multiple other people helped me.
Now is not the time to monitor screentime like school is in session. If giving your kids an extra 30 minutes of Pokemon gives you a little bit of space, do it!
Talk to your employer if employed. If self-employed, try to partner with others if you have the opportunity to cohabitate with someone who has children. Of course, in a way that’s as safe as possible right now.
A little bit of space can give a whole lot of sanity.
Have a conversation with your family around expectations, schedules, timelines. They will fly out the window on a regular basis, but it’s good to have them and refer to them.
Split work, make sure there’s an equitable split of chores.
Rewards are great. Learn your children’s currency and what motivates them. Use what you know about them to enable yourself.
Have extra school supplies on hand. If you have to go out, get some extra treats for the kids, if possible.
For those who don’t have kids, if you can avoid rescheduling meetings and be understanding that people with children are really challenged to stick with meetings.
Employers can reduce some pressure. You could say if kids need to be on-screen, that’s okay.
What is the lifecycle of social distancing?
I wish I knew. I’m preparing for a long path, months not weeks, as a business leader.
For those of us who can do so psychologically, it will behoove us all for this current lifestyle for an extended period of time.
Remember to get dressed every morning!
There have been many online resources popping up, like Audible’s new streaming service for free audio books, drawing classes from famous illustrators, synths apps (for a limited time) for making music, free coding camps, Headspace’s (a mindfulness and meditation app) free offerings, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s live cam, and more!
You have been telling the STRATIS team we are not “getting through this” but rather “growing through this.” Could you explain more what this means to you?
This is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s my goal for STRATIS, I want us all to cross the finish line, wherever, whenever, if it gets moved, crossing that line with our fists in the air like we always knew what we were doing. That’s my goal for you, for STRATIS. It is to grow through this, not get through this. That’s not good enough. You have to have a mentality and a strategy for growth, not just survival. Growth. We will -through community and connectivity. An attitude of gratitude, growth, community. Not hoarding!
There’s a meme going around on social media that shows Mr. Rogers. When he was younger, a toddler, he was worried about hard times and his mother said to him, “Look for the helpers.” I encourage us to not only look for the helpers, but also be the helpers in our community. Reach out -from a social distance- and help.
Reach out to neighbors, get groceries for people, give your delivery person a bottle of water and a snack.
We’ll get through this, and grow.
STRATIS®, a RealPage Company, creates smart apartments and intelligent buildings and is the only platform of its kind built for the complexities of multifamily and student housing. STRATIS is installed worldwide across the U.S., in Japan, the UK, EU, and Latin America. STRATIS now serves hospitality, retail, and small to mid-size commercial, as well. STRATIS is an Inc. Magazine “Fastest Growing Company in America” and a Top Ten Entrepreneur Magazine “Best Company in America.” STRATIS was recently acquired by RealPage to enable CommunityConnect, a more connected lifestyle, and unleash hidden yield through new revenue streams.