Jun 19th 2020

Growth, remote work and supporting local business with OLIO

In a time where businesses are trying to navigate the new normal, we have decided to check in on a few to hear how life is treating them. From working remotely to maintaining company culture, we are all treading new waters and information sharing has never been more vital. 

This week, we are doing a quick fire with Co-founder and CEO of OLIO, Tessa Clarke. Tessa and the rest of the OLIO team are on a mission to reduce food waste, one plate at a time, by connecting neighbours and local businesses. Read on to see what’s on Tessa’s mind. 

Hey Tessa, we hope life is treating you well! Tell us a bit about the current situation at OLIO.

Despite everything that is happening at the moment, these are very exciting times for us. We are extremely proud to recently have passed two major milestones: 2m people have joined OLIO, and we have diverted £10m worth of food from heading to landfill. 

And how are your remote working habits?

We have been a remote-first business since day one, so we didn’t really go through any drastic changes since lockdown came into place. Our team functions well, and we will continue to work from home post-Corona.

How do you maintain company culture while working remotely?

If I had to choose one ‘secret sauce’ for maintaining a strong company culture, I would say it’s to have an inspiring company mission that you recruit against – ensuring you recruit for people who are not just mission aligned, but who are mission obsessed. Once you’ve done that, everything else about managing a remote culture becomes relatively straight forward – it’s about combining active team chat channels which celebrate successes and insights, with strong management basics such as weekly 1:1s and regular performance reviews.

It feels like the right time to truly build strong communities with everything that’s going on at the moment. How is your growth looking?

We have been growing rapidly since the beginning of the year. When lockdown came into place in the middle of March, we saw a 20-25% drop in listings for two-week period. This may have been because of the general uncertainty about what was happening, where we were going, and what was allowed. However, since the initial outbreak our growth has doubled. We have adapted to meet current demands by making all pick-ups contactless which means items are left outside in a safe place just before the agreed pick up time.

“We can really feel how this crisis is bringing people together, everyone is recognising the value of sharing and of being a part of a local community.”

Tell us a bit about how you are supporting local businesses?

OLIO now has 8,500 trained volunteers – ‘Food Waste Heroes’ we call them – who collect unsold food from local businesses such as supermarkets or sandwich shops, and redistribute it to the local community via the app. With lots of store closures due to COVID-19, our volunteers sprang into action to rescue as much food as possible, and as a result, the volume of food saved doubled vs the 30 days prior to lockdown.

What new initiatives have you introduced to drive awareness? 

We realised that with the schools closing, around 1.3m children who usually had access to school meals were at risk of going hungry. We launched a new campaign to support these kids, and 10,000 meals have now been shared in this way. It is fantastic to see how communities backed our campaign, and we even had some celebrity chefs get involved.

That’s amazing to hear! Do you have any final thoughts before we let you get back to work? 

I believe there have been some important shifts in behaviour as a result of lockdown. First, more people are actively connecting with their community and supporting their local shops, and the data seems to suggest that this increased appreciation for all things local will continue. Second, people are really recognising the value of food, and just importantly waking up to how much inequality we have in our society, so I’m hopeful that action will be taken to ensure that we rebuild our society in a way that’s more equitable and sustainable for all.

Thank you to Tessa and the OLIO team! It sounds like they are on a really important journey, and here at Tempo we’ve definitely been much more active in supporting our locals and sharing tips on how to do so. Keep up the great work 💪

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