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F5 leaders help colleagues adapt to working through Covid-19

F5 leaders help colleagues adapt to working through Covid-19

 April 21, 2020

F5 Networks' Chief Human Resources Officer, Ana White, and Chief Marketing & Customer Experience Officer, Mika Yamamoto, have penned a blog sharing their advice to help professionals lead their organizations through the ever-changing impact of Covid-19.

Focus on what matters: Be Human First

F5's guiding principle is simple: do the right thing—for each other, customers, shareholders, community, and the world. This guiding principle helps with business continuity, as F5ers work through the following steps:

Safety first – In situations where a particular option would compromise personal or emotional safety, choose another course.

Keep the connection, change the medium – Rather than just cancel in-person events or meetings, F5 is seeking creative and accessible ways to meaningfully connect through video conferencing and webinars. 

Solicit feedback – Establish a dedicated means for employees to raise questions and concerns. Addressing feedback is key. People need to feel heard.

Recognize work and family responsibilities – Do not just talk about the crisis itself, but also about how employees and their families can adapt. Provide links to resources for kids, ideas for quarantining alone, and best practices for virtual meetings.

Remember the whole person – Put in place resources and well-vetted training sessions on stress management and remote working best practices. Enable employee counseling and find ways to fast-track employee benefit enhancements that will make a difference.

Communicate with transparency, early and often

Any crisis requires clear and constant communication, especially amidst uncertain and fast-changing conditions. Ana and Mike recommend the following:

Be upfront about ambiguity – Begin from a place of humility and mutual respect to uphold employee trust, and be as open, transparent, and timely as possible with employee communications.

Recognize that diversity yields better decisions – F5 has established a cross-functional core team of HR, Communications, Operations, and Legal professionals to meet at least twice a week to proactively refine employee guidelines and associated policy decisions.

Establish a cadence employees can count on – By establishing a predictable cadence and consistent voice of the company on Covid-19, employees know they can rely on corporate guidance rather than speculating.

Embrace the use of collaboration tools – In addition to bolstering internal collaboration tools through means such as new Microsoft Teams and Zoom channels, different functions at F5 have also set up a series of virtual meetings and office hours to connect and align.

Provide leadership guidance at all levels – F5's functional team meetings are overlaid with broader company meetings and manager sessions led by the CEO and the leadership team, as well as relevant content published to the external corporate blog.

Region-specific updates may be necessary – Though F5 has been intentional in communicating universal messages, the company has also responded empathetically to region-specific situations.

Consider multiple data sets and experts – F5 has chosen to leverage multiple data sets and discuss the implications in its cross-disciplinary forum to address any conflicting data and ensuring clarity and alignment across leadership.

Stay flexible and prioritize empathy

Many of the capabilities that have helped F5 respond to the current crisis find their roots in previous programs implemented by the company. For example, transitioning employees to work from home was eased because of F5's Freedom to Flex program.

F5 has also embraced some important principles along the way:

Encourage opportunities for joy and gratitude – For F5, sharing photos, stories, and recognition in a dedicated area reminds colleagues that they’re all in this together, and we’ll get through it. Some teams within F5 have established regularly scheduled virtual watercooler conversations where individuals connect over non-work-related topics as they might in the halls between meetings or at the coffee machine.

Think through how to help the community – F5 continues to spend energy considering how it can leverage the company's expertise and resources to support broader humanitarian efforts.

Adjust as necessary – F5's core team has kept one another up to date, 24x7, with the latest from around the globe, sharing perspectives on whether to amend guidance, and how to do so. 

Leverage your network – F5 has benefited greatly by reaching out tor peers around the globe facing similar situations to exchange ideas about how to lead in uncertain times. 

"We’re all learning on the job as we go through this, supporting each other and sharing our experiences. While we won’t always hit the mark on the first try, ideally others can build from the experiences we’ve lived over the past several weeks in successfully adapting processes to better fit our collective new reality. Let’s continue to share, demonstrate kindness, and look for innovative ways to get to the other side of this as a global community," Ana and Mika comment.

Read the full blog post.

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