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How Tech Ecosystem Platform e27 uses PraisePal to build a cohesive transcontinental team during the lockdowns

Mohan Belani, CEO and Co-Founder of e27

e27 is Asia's largest and most dynamic tech media platform; a fast-growing website monitoring and connecting entrepreneurs and startups across the South East Asia region. Aside from its market-leading news offering, e27 also has a large network of investors and startup founders, and provides tools and features to connect entrepreneurs and investors for business matching and fundraising activities.

When COVID-19 first struck, all businesses struggled to make the transition to remote working, but e27 faced some unique and particularly difficult challenges. Its team is dispersed throughout Asia; it doesn't have the scaled processes that many larger businesses could fall back upon, and it prides itself on being a people-centred business where interactions between employees are central to growing the business.

This last aspect was particularly important, and something that CEO and co-founder Mohan Belani was very aware of when the pandemic hit. "There is a big sense of teamwork and all the teams realise that they need to work together; no one team can be a silo." e27 was founded in 2007 and since then has been highly involved in its Mission of providing entrepreneurs with the tools to build and grow their companies. As such, Mohan knows all too well how a strong sense of connection was necessary to keep e27 going.

You cannot force people to have fun all the time

From day one, Mohan wanted to keep the team integrated, whilst also trying to be respectful of the different modes of working his staff adopted when working from home. Team members were also affected by the pandemic to varying degrees, depending on their home country situation and family needs.

"I had a list of things we need to change culturally to facilitate a remote model. It's not easy to do, as it requires people to change their work habits."

Initially, Mohan and his team tried (as did many firms) to use virtual tools, like team building activities on Zoom, to keep people connected. Undoubtedly this was better than nothing, and indeed Mohan notes that "it was really a lot of fun and engaged everybody." But after a while e27 began to notice something that many firms had; "enforced" social interaction while working remotely was actually surprisingly difficult to organise, required a lot of logistical fine-tuning, and was sometimes not always the thing that staff wanted. Speaking of these early sessions, Mohan noted that "they kind of died out [...] it took real effort to do."

PraisePal: Consistent recognition for constant connection

PraisePal is a unique points-based recognition system (compatible with software like Slack) that companies around the world have adopted in order to keep their employees engaged, connected and motivated. It works by allowing staff to award one another "points" so that good work or interactions can be instantly recognised. PraisePal is a radically democratic platform, letting staff across companies interact and acknowledge each other's contributions in public.

e27 RewardNation use case customer story review - 1
e27 RewardNation use case customer story review - 2
Screenshots of recognition messages from the e27 team sent in Slack

And of course, the points awarded aren't merely notional; they function as a very tangible thank-you from the firm to staff, by being convertible into useful rewards such as gift vouchers for Amazon or Starbucks.

Mohan immediately recognised the value of PraisePal to e27:

"Recognition is now more consistent. There's a very clear way to show recognition to team members and it's more public. Previously, it was siloed and within teams."

This ability to break down work silos is one of PraisePal’s most useful functionalities, as it maps how companies actually function in the real world, with multiple teams often working alongside each other but only liaising on a small number of points. With e27's widely-dispersed staff, being able to say thank you to one another with points was a small but significant way in which team members could bond.

The real importance of PraisePal has been its ability to keep employees motivated and engaged. Mohan notes that:

"We can now celebrate big and small wins together. Team members feel more recognised consistently which keeps morale up, and they also have an outlet to appreciate each other during daily work."

The real-time aspect of PraisePal is a particularly useful feature in keeping staff happy; employees at e27 observe that "getting recognised by their teammates helps people feel better about themselves and motivated to do better work."

Every founder’s dream: Forming powerful habits that employees embrace as second nature

Users of PraisePal often comment on its technological sophistication and overall versatility across a range of jurisdictions. "It integrates easily with our Slack workspace and has suitable rewards for my team members in every country," says Mohan; this sort of functionality makes it much more useful than stand-alone programs or purely domestic ones. Companies have global reaches and global workforces; there's little point in using an incentives program that might make staff in certain countries feel ignored.

RewardNation Slack App Screenshot
Screenshot of the PraisePal Slack App

Not only is it global, but it's also a tool that staff take to heart. With many technological solutions that have emerged to help with remote working, employees often feel like they're at best extraneous and at worst a burden that can take time away from their actual work. But end-users of PraisePal at e27 only have good things to say about it. Mohan relates a recent incident where PraisePal points came up in discussion:

"We were having a peer review session, and the person I was reviewing said 'if you don't know what to say to me, you can just say it in reward points!'"

He also noticed team members instinctively giving recognition to their teammates whenever someone shares a good idea during a call. That was when he could confidently say that they have successfully built a habit of recognition in the team.

Is Recognition the missing piece in global teams?

Mohan and the e27 team are thoroughly sold on PraisePal, reserving particular praise for "the ability to drive behaviours during micro-recognition." Remote working is likely to be a semi-permanent feature for most companies, and that means that methods for keeping staff motivated when they're not sharing an office are going to remain relevant for many years. With its versatility, functionality and global scope, PraisePal looks to be one of the companies at the forefront of building remote collaboration and motivation, effortlessly.

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