Apr 02 2020

How Airwallex Maximises Team Performance During COVID-19

VP of FX Product, Airwallex

With a large proportion of the workforce being thrust into remote working so abruptly, we’ve been exploring how teams are set up for success, specifically in Product Management. Who better to discuss distributed teams with than Rylan Dawes, VP of FX Product at Airwallex

Airwallex was named by KPMG as Australia’s highest ranked Fintech in the 2019 Fintech100 report, and their products are taking the world by storm. They seem to have read the play early when they launched their borderless cards product earlier this year, just before our borders literally closed. 

Embracing remote working during COVID-19

Middleton Executive Director, Jade Bennett, spoke with Rylan about how this high-growth fintech unicorn is supporting their remote teams during this challenging pandemic. Here’s what Rylan had to say about Airwallex’s approach to embracing remote working and how they’re supporting their teams with this transition.  


What has been Airwallex’s stance on working from home? 


At Airwallex, flexible working arrangements have always been extended to our employees depending on their circumstance or need. Whether someone needs to tend to a sick child, oversee house maintenance or needs a different environment to focus on deep work, the option to work from home for the day is available to them. 

However, having a few team members occasionally work from home isn’t quite the same as transitioning an entire workforce to remote working. We are fortunate to have learnt a few things from our China office, which was the first to be impacted by COVID-19 in February. 

Witnessing the positive effects of social distancing in China, we’ve introduced more guidelines to our work-from-home policy in response to the situation, and also conducted remote working trials to ensure that we had the right infrastructure and processes in place. 

A few weeks ago we enforced mandatory work-from-home across the business to abide by social distancing measures outlined by government health bodies. The steps we took early on have helped us prepare for this shift. 


So, Airwallex has always supported remote working but more on an ad-hoc basis, and by learning from China early has helped you prepare for where we are today. What are the top 2 tips you can offer to those adapting to working remotely, including any tools you recommend? 


Tip #1: Over-communicate.

‘Working from home’ does not mean that employees have to operate in silos. 

Communication is key in making sure that everyone still knows what is going on and is in touch with the rest of their teammates. Leaders have to set a communications framework that best suits their team and ensure that it drives over-communication. It may sound excessive, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Within my team, we have increased the frequency of regular scheduled meetings over Slack and Zoom so that we can share daily updates and tasks, and also provide help if anyone feels overwhelmed. 


So, we really need to over-communicate when teams are working remotely and as best practice leaders really need to establish a communications framework. 


Yes. And Tip #2: Set daily goals and track progress. 

Not everyone adjusts to remote working the same way. Some are more productive than others. Leaders have to step up and set clear direction to ensure consistent levels of productivity across their teams. 

Ultimately, each team member should plan personal daily goals and be accountable for their own results. We have found that we are leveraging Jira and Confluence more since enforcing mandatory work from home, but for teams that don’t have access to Atlassian products, Google Docs – Word or Sheet – is a great way to track everyone’s goals and progress in one place. 


You make a great point there. Leaders really need to step up during this team and provide clear guidance and support to their teams. What are some practical things your team are doing to support one another to ensure feelings of isolation are limited and productivity and focus remain in check? 


We set up all-day Zoom Room sessions within team squads that provide an opportunity for teammates to shout out to each other and continue natural conversations that may happen when working in close proximity to each other. While it may seem like a very simple thing, we encourage our teams to have their camera on during our Zoom meetings. Being able to see familiar faces increases more interaction and banter, otherwise it would feel like a typical phone call. 

It is also important to try to have some social fun. We ran virtual drinks over Zoom last Friday. It brought all of us together and allowed us to unwind after the end of a somewhat unnerving week (due to the worsening state of the COVID-19 crisis).


It’s great to hear that you’re still having fun where possible. Virtual drinks sound fabulous. I love seeing all the innovative ways people are trying to stay connected!

So there it is, some of the things Airwallex are doing to maximise their performance at the moment. 

Our key takeaways: keep things simple, set clear goals, over-communicate and we’re sure to come through this on the other side! 

Thanks to Rylan Dawes from Airwallex for taking the time to contribute to this blog and share what Airwallex and his team are doing during this unprecedented time.


If you enjoyed this blog, check this one out: ‘How Product Managers Can Thrive In a Distributed Work Model‘.

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