Why Appiloque decided COVID-19 was the best time to invest in its people

The pandemic is changing the way we work. This means that employers’ understanding of what it means to be supportive must evolve too.

When COVID-19 first hit, our biggest concerns for the team members of our digital marketing agency were that of safety and stability — so we focused our attention to making the move to a fully remote setup.

As we settled into this new normal, Appiloque proved to be agile enough to cope despite the poor economic climate.

We were even able to grow our business during this time by becoming certified consultants for the Enterprise Development Grant that allows SMEs to get up to 80% funding for Strategic Brand and Marketing Development projects. 

A business is only as good as its employees

These achievements are worth celebrating in good times. During the COVID-19 pandemic? It’s a shining testament to my team. 

Our Art Director, Christian had to juggle working from home with a young child — he took work calls in the bathroom and worked late at night after she’d fallen asleep.

Say hi to our Art Director, Christian and his “intern”

Our extroverted team members such as Senior Digital Marketing Associate Jaevus, who drew energy from spontaneous across-the-office brainstorms and boisterous lunches had to adapt to the solitary nature of working from home.

On the other end of the spectrum, the lack of non-verbal cues you’d usually get from face-to-face meetings meant video meetings were especially draining for the introverts in our team.  

Employees are only as good as their leaders

COVID-19 threw a spotlight on how changes impact team members in different ways. All of them had adapted and pulled their weight more than ever, but it also became clear to me that as the captain of the Appiloque ship, I was going to have to rethink what it means to support my team. 

Here are some lessons I learnt during COVID-19: 

  1. A one-size-fits-all approach to employee support is not going to work — understanding each employee’s needs and perspectives is going to be increasingly important
  2. Team morale and camaraderie is key to boosting employee engagement
  3. As the lines between work and personal life continue to be blurred, fostering a positive and supportive work culture should be an employer’s priority
  4. There are three layers to an effective team: On the highest level, social cohesion. Between colleagues, trusting relationships. And on an individual level, a sense of purpose. A leader has to care for and build systems to improve all of the above. 
  5. Soft skill development is just as important as hard skills

Investing in psychometric tool Emergenetics 

To get things rolling, I engaged ConnectOne, a local talent solutions consultancy firm to help. That’s when Joanna Yeoh, Director of ConnectOne introduced me to psychometric tool Emergenetics.

Emergenetics is built upon the concept that each of us are a product of nature and nurture. What it aims to do is to understand this intersection and how it manifests in the day-to-day.

It does this by measuring four thinking patterns (the ways in which your brain learns and approaches problems) and three behaviour patterns (the traits that influence communication styles). 

I got the team to take the Emergenetics Profile test and after completing the 100-item questionnaire, we got our profiles. But here is where I think Emergenetics adds more value than more popular psychometric tests like The 16 Personalities questionnaire – Emergenetics is not just helpful in building self-awareness, it is an intuitive and powerful framework that can be integrated into the workplace. 

“Everyone left with a deeper understanding and respect for our differences and an appreciation of how it’s this diversity that makes the Appiloque team like no other.” 

To have everyone benefit from the tool (and also as a fun team-bonding activity), we engaged Joanna to hold a Meeting of the Minds workshop for the team. Most of us were not surprised by our own profiles but it was incredibly insightful when Joanna led us through what these results meant for us as a team. 

On an organisational level, we were made aware of our team blind spots and learnt ways to overcome them. It dissected each team member’s strengths and weaknesses and we were able to see how we could leverage each other in different ways to drive a common goal.

On a peer-to-peer level, we were able to better understand where each person came from, and picked up practical ways to accommodate each other to build trust and better communication. 

At the end of the day, it was great to see everyone in person (it was the first time for us in nine months!).

More importantly, everyone left with a deeper understanding and respect for our differences and an appreciation of how it’s this diversity that makes the Appiloque team like no other. 

Joey Wang

Joey Wang

Joey is captain of Appiloque's spaceship. He spends his time charting the company's future and spearheading innovation projects that make business sense. Occasionally, he gets mistaken for a computer since he doesn't need a calculator and overheats when running too many processes.

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