With staff spread across the Asia Pacific region, the insurance company wanted to carry its internal culture into virtual form to support staff living and working in lockdown.

Insurance business, DUAL, tapped video to promote mental health awareness, celebrate events, brief staff and stakeholders and keep its unique internal culture alive during the coronavirus lockdown.

Thanks to a partnership with Shootsta (Singapore), DUAL produced a series of 68 videos between March and July 2020, in the thick of the crisis. DUAL CEO, Damien Coates, a Black Dog Institute mental health ambassador, also used the medium to create an internal miniseries for staff on managing any anxiety and depression during the lockdown.

Damien Coates

“DUAL has always been an organisation with a laser focus on culture,” DUAL corporate social responsibility officer, Sophie Cruickshank, explained to CMO. The company is a social one where staff are used to working and collaborating together, from an office.

“COVID-19 essentially turned what is normal practice for our company on its head so we were concerned how staff would maintain connection with each other and the business,” Cruickshank said.

Performance-wise 2020 has been a great year, but the business wanted to ensure mental health and wellbeing was a priority, and its partnership with Shootsta provided the tools to develop messages of support and guidance and get them out clearly and swiftly.

DUAL turned to Shootsta for the training support, production and editing service for its video strategy. “Video content is a natural progression for any business who wants to communicate on a personal level with clients, once we realised this a number of years ago we needed a way to create more and more video content cost effectively,” Cruickshank explained.

“We first adopted Shootsta for internal communications, but that took on a whole new meaning when COVID-19 struck and our entire company moved to working from home.”

With staff spread across nine offices in the Asia-Pacific region, it has always needed effective communication to keep staff informed and working collaboratively, this is how the partnership with Shootsta started.

When the pandemic hit

When COVID-19 struck, DUAL used video to not only improve moral within the company but also provide support to its clients. Coates’ experience as a Black Dog ambassador came into play, and it started providing tips on how to manage mental health, stay active and maintain communication with friends and family for its staff.

“Everyone in our team became more comfortable with being on camera with so many video calls and staff started to feel comfortable with sending in their own clips to me to create videos. Some of the videos we produced included exercise challenges, celebrations for special events like Mother’s Day and messages of encouragement from the team. We also made a bloopers video for April Fool’s which was some much need comedy in a difficult time,” Cruickshank said.

“Videos are a great fit for our culture, as we can create content that actually engages staff and they can watch it in their own time. It has allowed us to learn a lot about our team and their life outside of work, and I think the team now knows more about Damien’s life outside of work too.”

While Shoosta has been a seamless production partner, Cruickshank said they excelled during COVID. “Without too much direction for me, they were able to edit together clips from our team into really punchy and engaging videos and have them back to me in 24 hours.

“Especially in a time like COVID-19 when things are changing daily, it’s great to have a service you can submit footage one day and send out externally the next.”

While most of the team shot videos with their phones, DUAL was able to send its custom Shootsta camera kit to the CEO’s house in rural NSW so he could make his videos for the entire team. “This especially came in handy as we completed our first business acquisition during COVID-19 which needed to be launched internally, and to market all whilst people weren’t allowed to leave their houses,” she said.

Shootsta also provided the team with tips on how to capture the best footage on your smartphone, which really helped the team create quality videos without professional-level equipment. Shootsta VP of global marketing, Lauren Stephenson, said most of its clients are becoming more creative in the way they communicate across their organisation and to their external stakeholders.

“As a whole, our clients are also creating content more frequently too, opting for smaller chunks of regular communication, rather than one big update. We’ve also seen clients move from regular internal video updates to creating new podcast series that connect their distributed workforces,” Stephenson explained.

“Suddenly, regions don’t feel so large now when you can connect employees through this type of medium. They’re also making use of animated explainers to educate their external audiences as an effective way when you can’t have people film in the office,” she said.

“We’ve also seen HR and Training teams move to bite-sized video content that they use within interactive learning apps to help aid information overload in this remote working world we live in currently.”

Finding the right tone

One of the hardest parts is measuring the mood of the team, Cruickshank said. As many managers would attest during this time, it’s easier to get a good sense of this in an office environment, but remote work can blind you to some of the subtle cues from people that hint they are feeling low.

“Damien and the company as a whole are very open about mental health challenges and it’s been an ongoing focus for many years,” she said. “It’s not that often that you see a CEO get up and tell staff that it’s OK to feel the way they feel and provide advice and tips on how to manage it based on his own personal challenges.

“We have been holding virtual events every month to focus on staff wellbeing and keep the team connected by doing personal training, yoga, cooking classes, beach cleans, meditation and many more. I think the staff are actually more connected with the other offices than they were before.”

Live beyond 2020 is now on the horizon and Cruickshank said the company is excited to see the COVID-19 pandemic stabilising across much of the Asia-Pacific . “We’re starting to re-introduce office work to the company,” she noted.

“We have launched a new flexible working policy which will see staff having the choice of where and when they want to work going forward, so it will be even more important we stay connected and video will, of course, be a big part of that.”

A key focus for next year will be implementing sustainability throughout the business. “We have spent 12 months setting the foundations for this move and 2021 will be the year we really imbed sustainable practices throughout every level of the business,”Cruickshank added.

“I think globally we have now seen the effect human behaviours have on our environment, so we want to be a better business going forward for our staff and clients.”