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Chris Wilkinson,
Director of People,

 

What is Depop doing to support staff amid the outbreak?

Depop has enhanced both its physical and mental health care offerings to support its people. We introduced access to virtual GP appointments, upped our subscriptions with a meditation app and increased the number of paid therapy sessions with our counselling service, to give the team access to the care they need. Alongside this, we’ve built a remote social calendar to draw on our internal sense of community – an invaluable part of Depop’s culture. This includes group yoga, salsa lessons, mindfulness sessions, games nights and even live streams of our favourite office dogs… Tiger King eat your heart out.

Do you have any tips for HR practitioners with managing and keeping a remote workforce productive?

In a nutshell: we think it’s important to be flexible, have good communication and trust your team. This is a very strange time, so giving more flexibility around how your people work is crucial, and this might help them be more productive. The daily watercooler interactions we’re used to are so important and do strengthen teams' abilities to deliver, so maintaining regular, balanced communication across multiple channels needs to be encouraged, even if it's a tricky balance to strike when remote. Over-communicating right now is better than under-communicating. Finally, on trust, give your teams the resources they need, set clear goals, check in and support as you always do and trust them to do great work.

 

Looking back at your time with the company (Depop), what are you most proud of?

Since I joined Depop in 2017, we’ve scaled from 50 to over 300 employees, which brings lots of challenges. I was the first hire with a background in HR, and I’m very proud of the amazing team we’ve built across talent, people ops and learning, from one to 14. I’m also proud of how Depop has gone through so much change but we’ve retained that passion for our mission and community at the core of what we do, and we actively try to promote this, for example we organise lunches for new joiners to meet Depop sellers. It’s easy to lose touch with your customers as you grow, and is especially important for Depop, because we’re not just a tech company, we’re a community-led business.

 
 

What is the most exciting project you’re working on over the next 12 months?

A few things. We’re embedding people partners to support our line managers and have also introduced new tools like our role levels framework, all this structure will be helpful, in particular to our line managers who are critical to delivering a great experience for our people. We’ve also just made our first L&D hire who will be focussed on building our internal training pathway for line managers to support their growth and help them build motivated and high-performing teams. D&I was a focus for us at the end of last year, and we ran a substantial project to clarify our approach and policy to make Depop an inclusive place to work, and we have a clear roadmap we’re working through in 2020 - including new processes and training but also partnerships to provide internships and career opportunities to individuals under-represented in tech. This is really important to us.

 

What do you hope to achieve at Depop in future?

At Depop we’ve found ourselves at the forefront of a growing revolution in the fashion industry, which is incredibly exciting. The resale market is set to continue growing, as is the bottom-up setting of fashion trends, giving our sellers an enormous opportunity to continue re-shaping an industry which is traditionally top-down, wasteful and exclusive. My hope would be that the Depop cultural phenomenon continues to bloom, and our community grows worldwide, as our community of 18million is sorely needed in so many ways. We’re making great progress on this, particularly with our growth in the US. Our team at Depop are the ones helping our community to make this happen.

 

What is your guiding philosophy for HR?

People functions exist to help make a business successful, but there’s a growing acceptance that the traditional ‘control’ approach to HR doesn’t work. Our HR ‘North star’ at Depop is three words: care, impact, growth. We want to foster an environment of care and respect, where people are enabled to have impact in their roles, and where they can grow – whether that’s personally or professionally – during their time with us. We believe if we get these three things right as we scale, we’ll be a great place to work and our people will drive the business forwards. How to do HR well is still being figured out in our field. It’s not just perks like ping pong tables, or tired tools of the past (e.g. nine-box grids). To re-define how HR is done, we need a clearer North star to guide our thinking, but we also need to innovate and take risks to develop new approaches, as well as respecting the context we’re in. Different businesses require different approaches, one-size fits all doesn’t work for our customers, so we need to drop that approach in HR, as our people are our customers, and we need to keep doing better for them.

 

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