A great business needs a great team behind it. A great team is a happy team, motivated, not by money but by a common drive to be the best and to fulfil visions!
As such, we have spent the last year (2021) developing GeoInstinct into being one of the best places to work, this has taken many different concurrent approaches at the same time to develop a culture of quality, respect and the desire to do the best!
In Ho Chi Minh City, we invested heavily into developing a brand new office, moving to District 7 with a large open-plan office and designing from scratch the office fit out. As such, we set out to develop a new concept office, internally known as the GeoInstinct Smart Office… bringing many good practice concepts, including:
- Clean Environment – Open-plan office, with a lot of natural light, natural air flow, neutral tones, plants which absorb toxins, carpeted floors and low VOC paints.
- Digital Office – IoT controls, lights, sensors and more; Meeting room with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, 4K camera, omni directional conference microphone and more; mixed reality lab, brand new fibre-optic network covering all servers and workstations.
- Google-Esque – All team members now have access to an on-site swimming pool, gym, communal canteen, rest areas and much more; nearby there are great facilities for breaks including cafes, restaurants, and a pleasant court yard area; free drinks and snacks and much more to come.
As you can see, for a company much smaller than Google, we are still able to push to deliver the best offices, this is not a small feat and something that we are keen to develop further as we grow.
For our new Hanoi Office, we are located in Cau Giay District with many of the same core benefits as above and we look forward to showing off more in 2022.
As we are expanding our team, we want to ensure that we have the following successes:
- Happy Team
- Productive Team
- Innovative Team
To quote Sir Richard Brandson:
Train people well enough so that they can leave, treat them well enough so that they don’t want to.
This is a driving force for us developing a great culture at GeoInstinct. In our industry and generally in Vietnam, the most notable trend is always employee turnover, this is the amount of employees start / leave in a period of time. Some estimates in Vietnam put this figure at ~ 25% and for some industries it is much much higher.
There are many reasons for this, including things like pay, but pay is only a small part of the problem, according to some studies, employees in Vietnam are often frustrated that they are treated as nothing more than robots, with little flexibility, respect for their contributions, desire from management to improve working conditions and unwillingness to develop their employees as they are concerned they will leave.
Some businesses are responding aggressively to this, in the case of one company in 2020, they pushed even the most junior employees to sign strict Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA), Non-Compete Clauses (NCC) and new employee contracts.
Based on the wording of the contracts, it forced a recent graduate that if they left the company at any time, then they couldn’t work in the same field for 3 years. This is a wild and illegal practice, and is about instilling fear into employees rather than fixing fundamental issues. Of course, NDAs and NCCs can be good tools in business, especially for Executive Level roles, but using such strict ones with junior staff is purely a tool of fear and ultimately going to generate poor results long-term.
So what are the alternatives to this? Well making sure we are the best place to work is one of them, good pay and compensation is another, and we have developed the following also:
- Flexible Working – As a surveying company, flexible working is a 2 way road, we ask a lot of our employees to be flexible, travelling across Vietnam on a regular basis, in return, we are very flexible on working times when not having to meet project timelines… simply put, we are a results driven company, what this means in practice is that, if you need a day off to take your child to the hospital, or some personal time to de stress, then provided the project isn’t affected, we are very happy to support this.
- Remote Working – COVID-19 made is much more common in Vietnam and at GeoInstinct, we had already been implementing since 2019 the infrastructure for this and we doubled down on it in 2021. The result was that we could continue almost all projects which were not stopped due to COVID-19 lockdowns, all data already collected could be processed and all admin tasks were completed. For the individual, this is also important, minimising infection risks and moving forward giving a better and more resilient working environment.
- Equality and Diversity – Something we have found that companies in Vietnam do not address is the matter of equality, this can include the likes of: gender, age, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation (LGBTQ+). Simply put, GeoInstinct focuses on getting the best person for the job… we also do not care if you got a bad grade in your Education if your experience and mind-set since then have shown that you are willing to learn and contribute. As we grow, we aim to develop these inclusion policies even more, as having diverse thinking when well formulated is only be beneficial to an innovative company such as GeoInstinct.
- Ethics and Bribery – A lot of people say that it is impossible to run a company in Vietnam without having some of your employees looking for ‘benefits’ from suppliers and competitors – of course, this is a risk everywhere, not just in Vietnam and we have implemented numerous procedures and policies to minimise this risk. However, we have also focused on the basics, making sure that employees understand the potential harm that unethical activities can cause, providing interactive training on the matter and as with many aspects here, ensuring that employees feel well compensated for their work and promoting a good environment.
- Training – Providing formal training opportunities to employees when you are a small or even medium-sized company is not easy (nor cheap), but we made our first steps in 2021 to develop training opportunities in GeoInstinct. These included access to online and interactive training sessions (both pre-programmed and webinars) in coordination with our partners, on-site technique training and curating a library of research, books and method statements for our team to read and learn from. These will continue to be built upon and many more opportunities are coming in the years ahead.
Frustration Free Working
As a business, we have set out to reduce institutional stress as much as possible. So what have we done to improve things?
- Expenses – As a prominently field based company (both for sales and services), we have a lot of times when team members need to travel to site or meeting, get a hotel, and go through different procedures. We have tackled this in a number of ways, including issuing of company credit cards, having a travel coordinator who is able to book hotels and flights at anytime of the day, business accounts with multiple provides such as Grab, vetted preferred suppliers and implemented cloud based expense software.
- Information Technology – We have set up Single Sign On (SSO) for all employees, this gives them a single username and password to access almost any system within GeoInstinct, anywhere in the world; implemented a Business OS which means all of our operational systems are in one interface; and are helping the work-life balance by issuing Work Profiles and eSIMs for our employees mobile devices, giving them flexibility when working and also having a clear cut interface between work and life. The result is simple, less frustration at systems and ultimately more productivity.
- Open Environment – We are inspiring an open environment of discussion and feedback, this helps us to identify both opportunities and weaknesses, and gives team members an opportunity to be more involved in projects and the company.
There is no simple fix to reducing workplace frustration and work-related stress, it is an ongoing and sometimes difficult process, but we know that if we want to be the best company, then we need employees who are:
- Healthy (both physically and mentally)
As such, we will continue to develop new protocols and procedures, implementing regular changes to develop this.