Adapting Ada's work from home policy and culture in response to COVID-19

It’s Friday, March 13th at 7 PM. I’ve been on hold with IKEA for 76 minutes and counting - ironic, given that Ada helps brands automate the customer experience. IKEA sent me a satisfaction survey an hour ago asking me if my inquiry was resolved. Let’s give that a hard no.

I’m on hold because we made the decision on Wednesday to close the Ada Offices on Monday, March 16th. I’ve personally decided to spend my day delivering desks, monitors and chairs to home offices across the Greater Toronto Area. I know this is “extra”, but I think we’re going to be here for a while, and I want to smooth out any of the kinks we’re going to have.

Ada is lucky. We make AI chatbots - aka we’re a SaaS company. We already have a liberal work from home policy, and 60-80% of our teams work from home at least once a week. Work from home doesn’t really disrupt our work. When I asked our leaders to rate the impact of work from home on our operations on a scale from 1-10, where 1 is “sipping a margarita on a beach in Brazil already”, and 10 is “impossible”, I had to ask for the margarita recipe. Our average age hovers around 30. Margarita jokes aside, we attract a conscientious type, and our most popular clubs are #bookclub and #running. 

We’re in pretty good shape. We can run Ada from our new IKEA desks (if they ever pick up the phone) and we expect that given the massive increase in customer inquiries, smart brands will be more interested in Ada, not less. We do expect that people will get sick, but we’ve got a better chance than most.

It’s because we expect to be mostly ok that we needed to act. We need to act for those that may not be ok; Our elderly. Our immunocompromised. Our friends who can’t work from home. Our communities. We owe it to them to do what we can, especially when the impact to our business can operate from home. No, we won’t get to hang out over coffee in the lounge, but we can withstand the mild inconvenience to keep our communities safe.

Ikea just picked up. 96 minutes later. They couldn’t find my order and after all that, they canceled my order and charged me $5 - the same outcome, apparently, if I hadn’t called at all.

I’m excited to get back to work on Monday. Hopefully we can help frustrated customers everywhere, from the relative comfort of our homes. Keep safe everyone!

If you’d like to copy our policy, check it out here. We went for an “easy to read”, “easy to understand” approach. 

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