How to Thrive in a Changing Work Environment: DC's Remote Work Approach
"Just living is not enough... One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower."
- Hans Christian Andersen
We’ve been hearing the words quarantine, social distancing, shortages and remote work everywhere. However, there is a brightness and positivity from people coming together during a time of uncertainty. Design Collaborative has always been about “People-First Places,” and the care for each other and our clients has only become stronger in light of the Coronavirus.
The DC team was proactive in making sure all employees were kept safe and healthy. Meetings, preparation and new protocol all came together in about a week. This involved testing and setting up technology, monitoring what the local government and CDC were advising, and making sure employees had all the information and safety knowledge they needed. The first formal announcement to the entire staff was made on Friday, March 13. By the following Monday, March 16, there was already a portion of the team out due to school closures, and DC was understanding and expecting a higher count of people out of the office to due to cold/flu symptoms.
Even before the announcement came from the Indiana Governor on Monday, March 23, mandating that all non-essential businesses close, DC had everything in place. Close to 75 percent of the team was already working out of the office by this point. DC made the decision to go to a 95 percent remote workforce on Friday, March 20 (the Friday before the governor’s announcement) to make sure we were doing what was best for everyone at DC. Design Collaborative’s team did not react out of fear and quickly send everyone home, knowing that communications, collaboration, and engagement would have suffered in that situation. DC also did not wait for the government’s announcement for remote work mandates company-wide but executed a plan where the number of employees working from home would increase gradually. The team tirelessly tapped into resources and tested them firm-wide, and as DC was ready and able, more and more employees were moved out of the office safely.
The sadness of not being able to see each other in-person soon dissipated, as everyone began to find new, cool ways to connect remotely. Every Monday, an all-staff meeting occurs through video chat. Everyone is filled in on current projects and opportunities during the staff meeting, and each employee shares a highlight from their weekend. Design Collaborative’s office-wide happy hour social, Beer :30, held every Friday at 4:30 PM, became a virtual half hour social. The entire staff now enjoys a beverage or snack of their choice in their own home and socializes with their co-workers through an office-wide video chat on MS Teams -- every Friday at 4:30 PM. A group chat on MS Teams has also been created called DC Pets, where employees can share fun pictures or videos of their pets working remotely with them. People are now having remote coffee hour, wine hour or beer hour with each other throughout the week. Even lunches over video chat are flourishing.
The people of Design Collaborative are an incredibly resilient, cohesive, collaborative group who are dedicated to their mission of improving worlds and creating people-first places. This has not been deterred but accentuated by current events. Every day, we are discovering, connecting, and thriving in our new temporary environments, learning and growing with each other.