Putting a face to the name: How Team Locus is moving to normalcy, one step at a time

A world that has forever been changed by the Covid-19 pandemic is now slowly, but steadily, coming to terms with the ‘new normal’. It’s hard to imagine how we made do without the things that made life at work meaningful and fulfilling. How we miss the water cooler conversations, the group lunches, and quick cups of coffee at the canteen! Let’s not forget those brainstorming sessions, where some of our best ideas were often created and nurturing ideas on whiteboards, or by simply walking up to our colleagues for a discussion.  

But as we all know, things changed overnight across the world. At Locus, work-from-home, a staple Locus policy for enhancing work-life integration, became mandatory. Amid reeling changes, a ‘Covid Squad’, which consisted of volunteers from the Locus team was set up to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

From the onboarding of new team members to weekly meetings, blocking time slots on Google Calendars for video conferencing became an essential for communication. Instead of stepping over to someone’s desk, communication was now scattered over multiple platforms leading to passing on information with low fidelity and the creation of silos. The very essence of Locus was lost in the process. This led to some confusion, especially for new folks who had joined us remotely.

As the months rolled by, routines became established, and like always, the people at Locus worked like an all-star sports team to make things happen! So much so that many have successfully executed projects without having ever met in person. In many ways, the crisis made us flexible and even bought out the best from the team.

And yet, there was something that was missing.

Placing people front and center

“Not getting to know people and yet working with them is not a great thing because it makes one very transactional. Humans do not like transactions but prefer conversations. And I think these were challenges that everybody faced,” says Jyoti Katiyar, Founder’s Office at Locus.

To streamline all communication and documentation, Jyoti recounts how they came up with a variety of initiatives such as migration to Slack for internal communication and shift to Confluence — making it the single source of truth! Right from organizing inter-pod catch-ups and monthly newsletters from the CEO, to monthly meet-ups that occasionally entailed game nights and award ceremonies, we did it all. We even brought in experts to help team members navigate through tough times. However, virtual communication has its limits in promoting the solidarity foundational to building world-class teams.

“A few leaders decided that we needed an off-site get people in one room to come on the same page,” says Jyoti, adding that it would be a space for people to speak up, even disagree, but also commit to a common vision and take things forward with a bias for action. In essence: embody Locus’ culture to its truest spirit.

All about communication, openness, and empathy

By the end of September, most of the team members at Locus had been vaccinated, thanks to two vaccination drives organized and executed by the Locus Covid Squad. And as the situation in India seemed relatively stable, our Product, Solutions-Delivery, and Finance teams went on an off-site to Goa from October 16 to 20.

“Close to three of those four days went in day-long sessions in a room. It was stressful, but the beauty of it is that the people did not feel so. They were just so happy to be able to present their ideas. Everyone would adjourn for breaks and come back on time always,” says Jyoti. The sessions largely consisted of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis of teams. 

Through these sessions, everyone received exceptional clarity on why all teams functioned the way they did, the rationale behind key processes, crucial interdependencies, and challenges. A lot of constructive feedback was also shared, leading to the fostering of empathy, understanding, and team spirit. It also brought them in sync about their vision and mission, and the road to attaining it. The off-site ended with an awards ceremony that recognized every team’s collaborative efforts.

Putting faces to names

A large reason for the off-site’s success was also how team members got to see each other in a new light. Jyoti recalls how people freely shared their passion for music, photography, movie direction, running, singing, and even board games during the off-site. “We had no idea that our team members were super interested and into some really creative things. And when you get to know people beyond work, there is a greater sense of belonging and the development of excitement to meet and interact with each other,” says Jyoti.

“Another interesting thing was how everybody had one thing to say: It is so nice to put a face to a name.” It was this feeling that also pervaded the Diwali party that took place at Locus’ headquarters in Bengaluru on November 3.

The office was open to Locus team members who had been fully vaccinated for an evening of fun and games, laughter, and conversation. Some played table tennis and pool on the fifth floor, and there was also a round of bingo, which was also attended virtually by the global team from the North American and Southeast Asia regions.

“Everyone was very excited to be there. Some were seeing the office for the very first time. We were also eager to see where we would all be sitting once the office opened on a regular basis,” said Karthika Anand, Senior Specialist – Brand & Communications at Locus. “All of us were excited to get to know each other better as opposed to being just display pictures on Slack,” says Pratiksha Parulekar, Brand Marketing Specialist at Locus.

In so many ways, Life@Locus may not be the same. But each team member strives every day to build and nurture meaningful connections with each other until the ‘new normal’ is a thing of the past. Because at the end of the day, nothing beats putting a face to a name!