Reaching employees’ hearts through their stomachs

Photo by Daria Shevtsova

aCommerce is a regional e-commerce enabler in Southeast Asia, providing end-to-end and a-la-carte e-commerce solutions for the world’s leading brands. aCommerce is also behind EcommerceIQ, a unified e-commerce software that enables brands to monitor and optimize their online business from a single dashboard

While the services they provide are invaluable to companies seeking to weather the current pandemic, they themselves are not immune to its effects. In particular, Singapore’s Safe Management Measures and Work from Home regulations have affected the work-life balance and engagement of their team.

Marc Lee, HR Generalist (SG/MY), People & Places at aCommerce,shares on his company’s journey through the pandemic, and how they have leveraged Deliveroo for Work’s services to keep their staff feeling connected and motivated. Spencer Miau, Head of Deliveroo for Work, Singapore and Hong Kong also weighs in on the new ways companies are supporting their staff through the pandemic, and the trends observed moving forward.

Surging ahead through the pandemic

While the pandemic has been devastating for many industries, e-commerce is one of the sectors that has witnessed strong growth. “What we see across the board is a rush to digital, customers and brands alike understanding that the solution for the new normal is new retail, where brands continue to increase their online presence as users continue to purchase more online,” shares Marc.

“We have seen around 40 million new online users since the beginning of the pandemic, which is a never seen before growth. But what’s even more impressive, is that according to Bain & Company’s survey, the absolute majority of these new users plan to continue and purchase online even after offline channels reopen,” he continues.

The pandemic has also accelerated trends already prominent before, such as direct to consumer. “Many brands understood very early that in order to best utilize this surge in purchases is to allow their customers direct access to their brand, optimize the customer’s journey, increase margins, create loyalty programs and retain customer’s data,” explains Marc.

Maintaining connections despite remote work

However, the factors that drive the growth of e-commerce have also presented challenges in the transition to working from home. And while productivity hasn’t suffered as much as many have feared, keeping teams feeling connected, motivated and rewarded is hurdle all companies have to overcome. “As a result of long term remote working,” shares Spencer, “we often hear from companies that many indicators show increased employee feelings of isolation, both from their immediate teams but also the company in general.”

 “With work from home as the default arrangement, work-life balance and employee engagement are undoubtedly the two biggest challenges we face,” Marc concurs.

“It can be rather difficult for employees to draw the line between work and personal life when both take place in the home. In the office, there are also natural interactions and knowledge-sharing opportunities among colleagues, which are harder to facilitate virtually.”

In their conscious efforts to help employees feel engaged while working from home, the company explored virtual team lunches, with Deliveroo for Work. “We used to provide lunch every week for staff to mingle, says Marc. “However, the pandemic has prevented us from doing so anymore but we still want to find a way to continue our effort to make sure the teams are happy, engaged and motivated.”

Through Deliveroo for Work, the company provided meal allowances for staff to use for their dining needs, or to make on-demand grocery orders from Cold Storage and Giant on Deliveroo if they preferred to cook for themselves.

The way to one’s heart is through the stomach, and aCommerce is not alone in adapting their routes to meet the current situation. Spencer shares that before Covid, companies frequently utilised Deliveroo for Work’s group ordering benefits and event catering for meetings, but this has moved towards organisations providing their employees with virtual gift cards and individual meal allowances.

For aCommerce, the efforts have paid off. Marc shares that the response from employees has been “really positive”. “By providing meal allowances and giving employees the opportunity to have virtual team lunches together, morale has greatly improved and staff feel more connected with others and with the company, hence teams are more collaborative and productive,” he says.

Filling up for the journey ahead

While restrictions seem likely to fluctuate in severity, many companies appear to be settling down towards hybrid models where work from home will continue to feature. “The policy direction in Singapore has prompted companies to rethink and apply flexible team structures for the foreseeable future,” says Spencer. “We predict that most companies will maintain a hybrid model that allows staff to continue to partially work from home. Certainly, this is in line with changes that most of our clients are implementing and overall sentiment indicates that flexible working is here to stay.”

As such, even allowances for larger gatherings and groups dining out seem unlikely to shift the trends in how companies are now approaching staff welfare. “We expect to see a consistent increase in utilization of our individual employee meal allowance platform and on-demand grocery orders,” concludes Spencer. “E-gift cards will also remain in demand as companies look to reward their employees remotely but also engage their end-clients in a practical manner.”

For aCommerce, keeping their employees well fed is part of a wider variety of efforts to engage and support their team. “We’re hosting more virtual catch-up sessions with employees to build rapport. Care packages have also been another way for us to raise employees’ morale with a pick-me-up,” Marc shares.

“The festive season is just around the corner, so it’s an opportunity for us to connect with the team and Deliveroo for Work’s offerings are a way for us to do so this year-end.”