- Sep 27 • 1 month ago
Walk & Talk with Federico Russo 1 of 3: NetRefer‘s Covid-19 Response
To commemorate the Company’s 15-year anniversary, NetRefer’s C-Level and Heads step onto the stage in a docuseries entitled ‘Walk & Talk with Team NetRefer’. We take a candid look at NetRefer’s inner workings through the eyes of the Company’s leaders.
Taking up where we left off with Jacqueline Backman’s, CPO, three-part interview, today, we’ll meet Federico Russo, Head of Human Resources for part 1-of-3 of his interview. We’ll be walking through Ta’ Qali Basketball Pavilion, home to FIBA and the Malta Basketball Association, where Federico will open up on NetRefer’s response to the Covid-19 Pandemic
There’s a topic that’s been totally dominating everyone’s lives for the last year or two – the Covid-19 Pandemic. This must have impacted you and your Human Resources Team at NetRefer. Tell us a little about the protocols the company has put in place to keep employees healthy and informed about Covid-19.
The truth is when Covid-19 hit, I was not part of the NetRefer Team yet. I was just relocating back from London to Rome. So, I was not really involved in that emergency mode that NetRefer entered at that time. Despite that, the company was already prepared. Even before the government issued the lockdown restrictions, the company had already decided to move towards a remote work plan – shutting down the offices but still having operations ongoing.
The Facilities Management Team’s response was a rapid one. And in collaboration with IT, they provided our staff with all the necessary hardware for them to work remotely. All the technical equipment – monitors, keyboards, cabling – was delivered to our employees’ homes. So, despite circumstances, things ran timely and smoothly
It sounds like the company had already implemented the process of preparing a distributed setup, where some of the employees were working from home, while others were still in the office. Then, as restrictions have gradually started to lift, you’ve got this combination – a hybrid workforce, with people spread out in different locations. How did the company ensure that everyone is, first of all, healthy and working in the most optimal conditions possible, despite the fact that they’re spread out in such varied conditions?
At the time, the company moved from ‘preparation mode’ to ‘ready mode’. By this, I mean that all the procedures were in place. We had additional Covid guidelines about restrictions and contact tracing, and other relevant guidelines. And, I have to say that we’re not just following these guidelines; we’re being even more stringent. For instance, if the government is allowing 50% of the working force to be on site, we’re reducing that even further to, let’s say, 25% or 30%, and so on. So, we’re very disciplined when it comes to considering these regulations and restrictions.
We have 3 floors – plenty of space. We are respecting all the guidelines and requirements provided by the government in terms of social distancing, private spaces, etc. We have about 20 meeting rooms and offices, which have been turned into private offices for employees to be in isolated environments. This way, they don’t have to wear face masks all the time.
We also have some open spaces. If the minimum distance required between employees is two metres, we increase that. Here, employees have to wear the face mask all the time. There’s a temperature check anytime you walk into the building, sanitisers all over the office, and more.
On top of these measures – given what the base guidelines from the government are – we’re making additional effort. Especially our Facilities Management Team and our Housekeeping Team are doubling, if not more, their efforts to clean and sanitise all the spaces. Now, we make sure that every space in the office is thoroughly sanitised in the morning. We have a professional steamer for cleaning.
We have a new setup with regards to meetings. As a business, sometimes we have to meet other people in the same office. After the meeting, there’s a procedure in place. The Housekeeping Team, guided by the Facilities Team, are cleaning and sanitising everything, so that the next meeting will be carried out in perfect conditions and in a healthy environment.
So really, going above and beyond the recommended government measures to ensure that everything is done to keep everyone as healthy and content as possible.
For sure. And as I said, the most important asset of our business are our people. And we’re doing whatever it takes to ensure that people are healthy, happy, and engaged with all the initiatives that we’re putting in place.
On top of that, we’ve decided to invest in training our staff about Ergonomics. We work closely with a consultant – an expert in Ergonomics. And by giving our staff mandatory training, they’ve been made aware of what is required for them to work in the most comfortable and healthy working conditions. We also invested in guaranteeing that this new knowledge is not only applicable when working in the office, but also extended to working remotely from home. So, we provided them with different workstation setups – with keyboards, laptops, wireless mouse, HDMI cabling, laptop stands, etc. – in order for them to be comfortable and healthy, wherever they’re working – be it at home or in the office.
You’ve really jumped on ensuring that everyone has what they need to be effective, and do so in a healthy way. It’s all quite serious. There must’ve been a lot of pressure – for your Human Resources Team and for the employees, adjusting and adapting to all of this.
What kind of things have you been doing to keep the employees happy and stay connected, maybe, ensure that their morale keeps up? Perhaps, some more lighthearted activities for employees to keep their spirits going?
Our policies and procedures serve as more than just advice and rules on how to work remotely, or more accurately, in a hybrid condition. They also serve as support for the team in this situation. And, this way, the employees know what to expect from their Managers. So, we are putting in place weekly meetings held by the Managers and the Teams, one-on-one meetings, and other meetings formatted to meet the needs at the time. This allows for continuous feedback between Managers and individuals, regardless of where they are working from.
Also, on top of this, so as not to focus on the work and business side only, we’ve been introducing online events. We’ve had some very interesting ones, such as Mystery Murder, some competitions, a talent show.
A talent show! Did you compete in this one?
(laughs) Yes, I did. I was Deejaying. Unfortunately, I didn’t win. I was robbed. (laughs)
But still, probably a fun event for everyone. Discovering new, hidden abilities that people have.
Of course. It’s nice to find out something you didn’t know about the people you’re working with every day. Ultimately, we spend about 50% of our time working with people, and so it’s nice to know hidden skills or talents they may have. It was really fun.
Watch the 2nd installment of Federico’s 3-part interview here to learn more about the company’s recruitment process.
A special thank you goes out to Andrew Bonello for conducting the interview.
After last week’s part two-of-three of our second entry in the docuseries – Walk and Talk with Federico Russo – we’re back with the third installment at Ta’ Qali Basketball Pavilion. In this final part of our conversation, Federico starts with the present and looks to the future to reveal some very interesting initiatives the Human Resources Department has in the works for NetRefer employees. He touches upon three different performance-based rewarding plans that empower employees by giving them agency.
- Oct 15
Here, Federico takes us through NetRefer’s recruitment process, elaborating on the value of cultural diversity and the mutual bond established with each new recruit. Then, he transitions into the Company’s benefit package and team building incentives. He brings this part of the interview to a close by laying bare the Company’s tools and methodologies for continuous professional development of employees.
- Oct 13