On the first day of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, I and the whole Lokalise team watched via Slack as some of our team members in Ukraine posted updates of their experiences. At the same time, Lokalisers in neighboring countries scrambled to provide as much help and information as they could. It was as admirable as it was both harrowing and heart-breaking.
Last week, our co-founders Nick and Petr shared what they, and we as a company, are doing to support Ukraine as much as we possibly can. Today, I’m sharing what we’re doing to help our team members in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus and also support any potential new Lokalisers. I hope that by sharing this, it helps you generate ideas on how to help your team members at this time. Here’s the steps we’ve taken so far:
Step 1 – Creating an emergency response group
On day one of the invasion, we re-focused part of our team and created an emergency response group. The group is formed by team members from People, Legal, Finance, and Operations. We mapped our employee base, location, family information, and emergency contact information. We defined responsibilities in the team, and attributed a contact person to each impacted employee. Creating focus and ownership of the response helped both the support team and the colleagues being supported.
Step 2 – Establishing regular communication flows
We created open channels with employees in the affected regions on Slack, Telegram and Whatsapp. Immediately colleagues in the channels started sharing relevant information to help each other out, while keeping the emergency group informed about their safety.
We have also set up daily check-ins with all of our employees in the region to check on their safety and follow up on relocation, payment, or accommodation challenges.
We have daily standups with the emergency group to share updates about our team members and about research findings.
Step 3 – Centralizing resources
As soon as things escalated last week, information started to flow. The entire company wanted to help, useful links were being shared in every thread on Slack, questions and answers on relevant details on how to cross borders, etc. We needed to centralize.
We launched our #help-ukraine Slack channel and instructed the team to share any relevant information there. In parallel we created a live document shared with the entire organization. It includes:
- Emergency contacts of Lokalisers from neighboring countries that offer assistance.
- Information from other countries and their migration policy updates.
- Information about alternative payment methods.
- Information about charities Lokalisers could contribute to.
Step 4 – Seeking local help
The support of our colleagues in neighboring countries such as Moldova, Poland, and Romania has been astounding and absolutely critical in supporting employees and their families. Many have offered their homes and are providing valuable border updates to their colleagues. This was, and is, vital to us finding local support in neighboring countries that speak the language, and understand accommodation and travel challenges.
Additionally we joined Techfugees. They’ve setup a network of groups to support Ukrainians relocating to countries in Europe and coordinating evacuation efforts.
Step 5 – Research
The situation keeps evolving, with information flowing between our networks in all directions. Other startups are reaching out. Investors are supporting with more information. We have established in the emergency response group owners of subjects:
- The Legal Team is working on relocation research.
- The Finance Team is working on alternative payment methods (given sanctions and/or bank systems reliability issues).
- The People Team is working on building a mental health program to support the organization.
- The Operations Team is working on accommodation research.
Ownership of large inflows of information while in a stressful situation is something I strongly recommend.
Step 6 – Hiring refugees
We’re actively working to recruit refugees and posting our openings on all of the refugee job boards we can find including:
At Lokalise we’re fully remote, a strong position to be in right now because it allows us to hire anyone from anywhere. Our three HR partners— Remote, Papaya Global, and Oyster— have been incredibly helpful in supporting us with visa and legal relocation questions and processes.
Step 7 – Organizing a company donation
We researched organizations at helpukrainewin.org. After picking suitable charities we asked our Ukrainian employees for feedback and final approval. Today, Lokalise will be donating $500,000 to various causes.
It’s been incredibly heartwarming to see everyone on our team jump in to do whatever they can to help our friends and colleagues. I am very proud of the energy and mostly the heart of our team members. But this is a start, there’s much more work to do.
I hope this post can help you, or your company, to help others. Reach out to me (email@example.com) if you have more ideas, or if you are doing something different while your team navigates this difficult situation.
While we don’t know what will happen next in Ukraine, we’ll all be standing by our affected team members every step of the way.