At Home (Offices) Together

At Media Cause, we pride ourselves on strong company culture. You could visit any of our four offices in Atlanta, Boston, DC or San Francisco and get a strong sense of inclusion, acceptance and, dare we say, general merriment. Unlike any job I’ve ever had before, people genuinely enjoy working here. The work is good, but we also know it’s important, so just like many of our non-profit partners, sometimes it’s hard to peel away from moving missions forward, and find time to connect.

So how do we do it?

There are a few things that have become essential in Media Cause culture, starting with our Bi-Weekly, Bi-Coastal (BWBC) meetings that serve as all staff meetings. We take time to learn from each other, share client work, celebrate anniversaries or milestones, and lift each other up through personal shout outs.

During the BWBCs, we started 3×3 presentations where three people get three minutes each to tell a story or share a passion. While it was nice to practice to design decks and present in front of 35 other people, it is also an amazing way to get to know each other’s stories. Laughs are had, tears have been shed at least once, and overall people feel more connected.

To take this bonding to the next level, we started Coffee Talks, where we’d be paired at random with a coworker every two weeks to just chat for 15-30 minutes. If you were in the same office, go for a walk and enjoy a beverage. If you weren’t, grab a Google Hangout and small talk for a bit. Across teams and locations, bonds have been made and continued to deepen. Plus, it’s easier to work with people when you know the people as humans, not just designers, strategists, media buyers. We talk about trips and travel, 5k training plans, and bringing home new fur-kids, and real kids.

And in the spirit of beverages, we launched weekly, in-office happy hours. Conversations flowed between personal stuff and stuff, people came and went depending on their workloads. We’ve cheersed closing on houses, landing new clients, and have consumed a fair amount of cheese in the process.

But then COVID-19 came, and whether or not we had shelter-in-place orders, we all went home to protect each other, unsure of when we’d be in the same room again.

Fortunately, the BWBCs, 3x3s and Coffee Talks can continue with a sense of normalcy. Every other week, 36 faces start to pop into a giant hangout to attempt to stay connected, but we could tell we needed to do more to keep the vibe alive. We even made our happy hours a virtual shindig, or opting for the occasional House Party so it wasn’t like all of the other drinking video calls we have.

And we kicked off a few additional, optional, initiatives while everyone was working from home, together. In an effort to balance the needs of parents, with kid-free co-workers, our favorite word for all of the culture-boosting activities has become optional. These activities are meant to bring people together to bond, not become forced fun.

So to start, we wanted to mimic in-the-office culture as much as possible, so we scheduled 30 minute “How was your weekend?” meetings for each individual office on Mondays so people could feel connected and transitioned into their weeks. Grab your coffee (we drink a lot of coffee), chat about how our weekend days were different from our week days, discuss that cool new series on Hulu we watched, and then ease our way into our work week.

We also launched Empathy Hours, where we hold space and talk about how we’re feeling – if we’re scared, feeling alone or disconnected, or actually doing pretty ok. No one tries to fix anything, but there’s just space to feel our feels. It’s always a mix of laughter and tears, but a deep sense of connectedness, that whatever we’re feeling, we’re not the only one.

And for fun, we kicked off MC Cribs, where every week a coworker takes us on a voluntary tour of their house, like on MTV Cribs. We get to meet children, spouses and so many pets! It helps connect teams when you’re able to see the whole person, in their environment, with their families.

Of course we miss the spontaneous collaboration, the ability to get a quick response, or the inside jokes that naturally happen when people share a space with day in and day out.

What creative things have your teams been doing to stay connected as we’re all working apart? Let us know!