Putting Employees First During COVID-19

By Steven Jung

Photo by Gina Coleman via Weedmaps

Where we’re at with COVID-19

We’re now over five months into the global pandemic affecting our day-to-day lives. It can be easy and even tempting to let our guards down in a situation that lasts for this long, even one as dangerous as COVID-19. To protect our employees, their families, and the community at large, Weedmaps has taken steps to encourage and implement safety measures during and beyond the pandemic.

To begin with, we’re not taking COVID-19 lightly. We found a compelling perspective in CDC data that drove our decision-making and messaging to our people: If you consider flu statistics from the 2018–2019 season, COVID-19 has a 50x greater death rate. If we allowed covid to spread freely and the same number of people got sick as with the flu, the end result would be approximately 1.7M deaths. For context, that’s equivalent to the combined total of the top five leading causes of death in the US per year.

While this kind of analysis can always have caveats, this simple math is a sobering reminder of the extreme cost of a downside scenario. Politics aside, our goal is and should always be to keep everyone safe, and the best way to do that, for now, is to practice diligent social distancing.

As a company, we’ve been working from home since early March and will not return to the offices until January 1st, 2021, at the earliest. For the handful of employees that still require periodic office access, we take precautions by sanitizing the facility's daily and deep cleaning weekly. Everyone must wear a mask in the office at all times, and we require temperature checks before entry.

We are also working on ways to create a safer working environment post-COVID. Our introductory solutions include upgraded floor plans with stringent space density guidelines, facility utilization heat mapping, hand sanitizer stations, and general social distancing measures.

Elevating employee quality of life

Our IT and Workplace teams have been working hard to ensure employees have the equipment they need to work from home. And beyond equipment, making sure they have the necessary tools, such as professional work from home tips and virtual meditation sessions.

Our leadership team gave and continues to give the company paid time off in addition to the official holidays of the year. We’ve found numerous occasions over the last several months where an extra day to reflect, act, or simply relax was needed for all. To continue making sure our people have time to recharge, we’ve designated the third Friday of the month for the remainder of 2020 as ReUp Friday, a day to rejuvenate and unplug from work.

Perhaps not so surprisingly, one thing employees miss about the office is the snack selection. To supplement the work from home experience, Workplace developed a program to send snack boxes direct to employees’ homes. Based on everyone’s positive feedback, we now send these boxes out monthly.

Photo by Gina Coleman via Weedmaps

Together, virtually

We want to make sure that the time that we spend in our virtual offices also includes the opportunity to celebrate and engage with one another outside of work. Our Workplace and People teams have been spearheading virtual events to bring employees together to have fun and connect as a team. Each month, we host a company-wide Happiest Hour that comes complete with a special theme and a special DJ. During, employees chat with each other across departments and distances in our Slack #the-happiest-hour channel. There’s also a weekly, themed BINGO game that’s incredibly competitive and provides hilarious, pro-level trolling.

We’re proud that our Employee Resource Groups have hosted fun, educational Happiest Hours as well. The Out at Weedmaps ERG held a Pride Happiest Hour to cap off Pride month, complete with drag BINGO, while the Women of Weedmaps ERG hosted an event during the recent 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

The WM Noir ERG for Black employees and their allies held the first of our Weedmaps Elevated Engagements series in June, with an impactful and interactive talk with Minyon Moore and Yolanda Caraway on Black Lives Matter. We followed that up with a talk by Vivian Topping of the Equality Federation on “A Radical History of Pride.” In August, we hosted a special training session by the Equality Federation on Campaign Structure, where we learned how to organize and grow campaigns and get involved.

Growing our communications

Upon switching to working from home, our executive suite and employees have found new ways to communicate and keep our people informed, including weekly update videos from the company’s senior leadership team. Our quarterly All Hands meetings have also made a successful transition to being fully virtual. Individual teams have weekly happy hours to stay connected outside of work-focused meetings. And the C-Suite extended office hours to all employees to discuss anything from career paths to how the pandemic affects our lives or the Weedmaps business.

Looking ahead

Protecting our employees, their families, and the communities we live in is our top priority. While the world continues to adjust to life during COVID-19, Weedmaps remains conscious of the pandemic and active in mitigating any risks to our people. Through thoughtful leadership, engaged employees, and readily available information and tools, we are all doing our parts to flatten the curve and keep people protected. We hope everyone stays safe out there.

Weedmaps is a community where businesses and consumers can search and discover #cannabis products.