Moncur COO shares how the company is cultivating a thriving culture as a hybrid agency, in the midst of a seemingly never-ending pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, our team worked in person every day. We discussed the possibility of establishing a work from home policy in the future, but it wasn’t high on our priority list until March 2020 when COVID-19 became a health concern for our team. At that point, we made a rapid and logical decision to adjust our operations and have our team begin working from home to keep them safe. We thought we would see them back in the office within a few weeks.
Weeks turned into months. As the uncertainty of the pandemic continued, we began to ask ourselves two very important questions: “Is a virtual team sustainable long-term?” and “How do we maintain a strong culture and united team from a distance?”
The first question was the easiest to answer. Our team proved that their work can be done—and done well—from anywhere. That trust helped us decide to become a hybrid agency, allowing our team to work anywhere they are most successful -- whether that’s in the office, at a remote location, or a combination of the two. With mutual respect, solid processes, clear communication, and strong leadership, our business could not only sustain remote work but create a new opportunity for growth. We were ready to attract and support top talent regardless of their location.
Since making the decision in late 2020 to remain a hybrid agency, we have increased the size of our team nearly 30% and have expanded our agency footprint to new locations all over the U.S., including Seattle, Chicago, Indianapolis, Richmond, Columbus, Denver, and Tampa to name a few.
Throughout this growth, we recognized that the significant change our team was experiencing, both personally and professionally, was becoming challenging. COVID-19 was no longer just a physical health concern—the separation and isolation caused by the pandemic became a mental health concern as well.
It’s our job as leaders to understand the needs of our team so they can remain successful—and the needs of our team have changed during this pandemic. COVID-19 has created confusion and fear in the world. It has created a divide in relationships based on beliefs. It has even blurred the line between right and wrong. With such angst present, we would be foolish to believe our team isn’t fighting a personal battle each day. We need to lean into them; deliver support and appreciation while embracing our company’s mission to communicate beautifully—always.
I recognized it was time to bring our team together. While other businesses reached similar conclusions and decided to bring their employees back to the office on an ongoing basis, we simply needed to create the right opportunity at the right time to reunite our team and celebrate their accomplishments while encouraging our core values: collaboration, curiosity, excellence, growth, and harmony.
The event was scheduled. Our entire team would finally come together at the end of July for a three-day event at our Michigan headquarters. With vaccines available, travel becoming safer, local COVID-19 cases decreasing, and CDC/local government guidelines in place we were ready to safely welcome our team.
I felt the excitement grow over the days leading up to our event as travelers documented their trips on social media. Some were excited to reunite with coworkers they hadn’t seen in nearly a year and a half. Others were thrilled to see our space and meet our team in person for the very first time. Some simply needed to socialize again and feel the energy that comes from a group like ours. It’s powerful.
The day we had been waiting for had finally arrived—and I will never forget the smiles on everyone’s faces. Simply being in the presence of our working family created joy and a deeper connection that cannot be replaced with technology.
On the morning of our second day together, we were quickly reminded that even the best laid plans can be altered when living in a pandemic world. I received a call from an employee in tears notifying me that she tested positive for COVID-19. She was fully vaccinated and asymptomatic the first day of our event but woke up the second day with loss of smell and grew concerned—rightfully so.
Within minutes of receiving this news we notified the rest of our team. Transparency and timeliness of this information were essential—along with respecting the independent needs of our employees in this situation. They could get tested, head home, or remain onsite with increased safety measures in place for the remainder of the event. And we respected each decision made. After all, this isn’t a “one size fits all” world. Each person has unique experiences in life that help form their views and opinions – and we embrace that at Moncur.
While we didn’t end up sharing three days with our entire team as planned, we did share one amazing day that produced the outcome we set out to achieve: bring our team together with purpose so we can maintain a strong, united culture as a hybrid agency.
After surveying the team following the event, it was great to see the overwhelming appreciation our team had for bringing them together, their admiration of how the COVID-19 situation was handled, and their hope to come back together again soon.
If asked the question “Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?” I’d say yes without hesitation. I take the needs of our agency seriously and will continue to do what’s necessary to allow our agency to thrive in every way.
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