Business

The Uber approach: four practical ways PAs and EAs can adapt to the new normal, from EA extraordinaire Rochelle Biss.

October 13, 2020 / Kenya

As EA to the Head of Uber for Business EMEA and the Senior Director of Rides EMEA, Rochelle Biss is deeply familiar with the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has raised for PAs and EAs.

We sat down with Rochelle recently to get her perspective on navigating this new normal, safeguarding your own wellbeing and helping bring your community together despite new challenges. 

This is the follow-on from that interview, where Rochelle shares some practical action points for PAs and EAs to have a positive impact right now.    

Take it away, Rochelle…

Capitalise on your support network 

EAs are problem solvers. For me, a huge part of that is having a strong support network where we can share internal best practices, discuss common challenges and generally pool resources to work more effectively. 

That feels especially important right now, when we’re all facing new challenges in how we work. We’re writing the playbook as we go along!

I’d strongly recommend creating a PA Slack channel or Teams chat, and scheduling weekly check-ins to put your heads together and share challenges. This will also give you wider visibility on business-wide problems, so you can anticipate trends and pre-empt issues.  

Create an agenda that prioritises self-care

I’ve had to learn to be my own EA, really. You’re so in control over leads’ diaries as an EA, it’s easy to forget about yourself and your own routine. Especially at the moment, when we’re dealing with this new working world. And especially if you work across a global team, time-zones can mean you never really switch off.  

I’d strongly suggest other EAs and PAs create an agenda that builds in time for the activities that keep you at your best. 

The questions I like to ask are:

  • Have I scheduled regular short breaks?
  • Have I carved out time for lunch – and do leads know I’m offline?
  • When am I going for a run/doing yoga/listening to a podcast?
  • When am I switching off for the evening – and do my leads know?

I’ve found, if you don’t schedule breaks, lunch, exercise, podcasts and switching off for the evening, it simply won’t happen. That might be fine for a week or two, but it’s doing you – and your leads who rely on you – harm long-term. 

Help the team connect socially 

I’ve said before how EAs are community advocates – that role’s even more important when the workforce is distributed. As EAs, our job is to be inclusive and encourage everyone to get involved without creating any pressure. 

That’s why I’ve tried to arrange a big variety of things at different times. We wanted people to get together beyond set work one-to-ones, to connect casually too.

Six things that have worked really well for us are:

  1. Team quiz nights
  2. Virtual lunches
  3. Guess Who with childhood pictures
  4. Online coffee break games (personally I love Pictionary)
  5. Zoom cooking lessons 
  6. Daily Slack gratitude shares

It’s been great to get team members involved with organising these different activities too. Not only does that mean you’re not handling everything yourself (cut yourself a break!) but we’ve found the planning and logistics of team building events are often team building in themselves. 

Make sure your team feel valued

There’s been no playbook for coping with COVID, and everyone’s feeling the pressure somehow. I feel really lucky to work for an employer who makes me feel so valued and supported. 

We get a monthly allowance for Uber Eats and Rides, which I love. I use mine mostly on Uber Eats. It frees up my time, provides variety, cuts down on food waste and means I can support my favourite local restaurants.

I know our UberEats allowance is a really popular perk across Uber, so it’s something I’d recommend any EAs consider introducing for their team. Especially at the moment, when everyone’s under more pressure than normal. 

At Uber, employees often order food if they’re working late, or for virtual client lunches, for example. Or before all this, if they’re travelling for business. From my side, it’s simple to approve all the team’s expenses via the Uber for Business dashboard. Receipts are automatically sent and processed, so there’s no admin hassle. 

That’s an overarching point I’d emphasise, actually. EAs are already pretty good at this because our whole life’s about being organised, but it’s really important to choose tools that make your life easier. The technology landscape changes fast, so don’t overlook new tools that could solve a problem or accelerate a process. 

This blog is part of The team that Eats together initiative, a content series exploring what normal looks like now, and how to enhance the working world to meet evolved employee expectations.

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Bring the team back together, wherever they’re working.

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The views and opinions expressed are based on the research conducted and they do not intend to present an official policy of Uber or any of its subsidiaries. Examples of advice mentioned in this article are based on open source information and assumptions made within the article are not reflective of Uber’s position.