Featurespace is a technology company with 322 employees spread globally across the UK, US, Israel, and Asia. The company’s purpose is to protect people from risk; helping clients to protect their customers from fraud and financial crime. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Featurespace was in a phase of unprecedented growth, expanding the size of their workforce and branching out into new territories. Faced with the uncertainty of the pandemic, the challenge was to ensure business continuity, and the wellbeing of their people. Realising that culture would be integral to their response and the continued engagement and productivity of their employees, they set out to demonstrate their values through action; seeking to tell the truth kindly, striving for innovation and brilliance, and being continually generous to customers and colleagues.
On March 17th, 2020 Featurespace went fully remote across all offices globally, overnight. As creators of Adaptive Behavioural Analytics, they knew they needed to quickly adapt to effectively manage the huge change to their normal ways of working. Within hours of going ‘virtual’, traditions such as Friday Beer O’clock and the company-wide ‘All-Hands’ meeting led by CEO Martina King and the Senior Management Team (SMT), had been reimagined. This preserved a sense of normality, structure and social interaction. Communication has always been key, and was now even more important. Open and transparent discussions at all levels were crucial and the weekly ‘All-Hands’ tackled challenging subjects head-on, including redundancy, furloughing, quarterly bonus’, and permanent remote working. Anonymous Q&As allowed colleagues to submit any question with the guarantee that a member of the SMT would answer it. Anonymous monthly surveys covering subjects such as working from home, productivity and support, encouraged colleagues to provide honest feedback and ensured the company focussed on the right areas.
Maintaining levels of engagement, productivity, and collaboration was a priority. It was recognised however that whilst productivity is important for business success, team wellbeing is the enabler of this. Facilitating a culture of collaboration was challenging in a remote environment, with concerns arising around limited VPN usage and the security of video-calling platforms, but teams worked tirelessly to rectify these within a short time window. Staff were encouraged to take essential equipment from the office home and further items they needed were quickly provided, including licenses for preferred video conferencing tools to meet a variety of needs. Flexibility and support were crucial; HR and managers encouraged open conversations with those struggling with remote working due to inexperience or carer responsibilities and supported colleagues to adapt working hours around other commitments or to take periods of extended leave or holiday. Coaching sessions were also offered, focussed on productivity and time management. Regular ‘Lunch and Learns’, led by passionate volunteers, shifted to cover relevant topics such as Migraines, and OCD and Anxiety. To further support wellbeing remotely, daily HIIT, meditation, and Pilates classes were introduced, all of which have been hugely successful across all offices.
Throughout the crisis, Featurespace has found new and innovative ways to embed their values and strengthen their unique culture. Cultivating a business built on transparency, innovation, and trust has been more important than ever. They have instilled confidence that the business will do what is best for its people and in turn, its customers. The company has fortunately been in a position to not only avoid furloughing and redundancies, but to continue to expand globally, signing business in new territories. It has been one of very few companies to successfully close a funding round during the pandemic, raising £30 million for future growth and making strides towards their mission of risk scoring every transaction on the planet.
Anonymous surveys have been the most informative source of quantitative and qualitative feedback on efforts to sustain communication, productivity, and wellbeing within the workforce. Comparing two nearly identical surveys sent out in April and June, with average engagement rates of 77%, there was a large uplift in people who said their productivity grew whilst working at home, along with a decrease in employee stress levels. Communications with leaders and teams remained largely consistent. A slight drop was constructively addressed by remote training for line managers. People gave a score of 4.04/5 when asked if their work/life balance had improved and 4.56/5 when asked whether they felt Featurespace has supported them during the pandemic. The vast majority of staff also wished to continue activities introduced or reimagined during the pandemic, including weekly company meetings, colleague shoutouts, and health and wellbeing activities. There is widespread agreement that the positive company culture has been sustained and strengthened, with gratitude and appreciation from colleagues as a direct result.