Along with the obvious worry of COVID-19’s potential effects on the health and wellbeing of each other and everyone we care about, was a big question: could our team operate with the same level of energy, enthusiasm, creativity and innovation that we normally bring each day?
The answer is a resounding yes!
Thankfully, we were all equipped to work from home well before the pandemic, and one or two of us would occasionally take advantage of that benefit. But we had never all worked remotely at once. As with a lot of challenges, it’s an opportunity to rise above and create new solutions. We’re in the business of problem solving, so looking back, it was only natural that we’d come up with different ways of working together despite being apart.
We used to start every day with a 15-minute huddle in our main area. We’d each take a turn telling everyone what we were working on that day and used the opportunity to ask questions, check in on the status of a project, or ask for extra help. It also included a short (and fun) team-building component.
Now, we do a Slack huddle every morning, where we post our status (flexible, busy or ) and that day’s tasks – and we still include that team-building component, which has become even more important.
Slack has become a key method of communication in our work-from-home world. It’s a great collaboration tool, and we use it with a few of our external partners, too.
Another piece of technology we, like everyone, could not live without these days is video conferencing. Slack has a nice video conferencing feature that we like for internal calls between two or three people, but with larger groups we like Zoom or Google Meet. It’s become second nature to us now.
Our Google drive and Google docs have become more integral to our work process, as well. While everything is still saved on our server and we can connect remotely to it, we have found working collaboratively in Google docs has been an efficient routing and approval tool and it even works well as a place to generate and explore ideas.
Another proofing and routing tool we make good use of is from Adobe. In the design stage, this system has worked superbly. We appreciate the way we are all able to see each other’s comments, and the versioning history it allows us to create.
Some things you just have to do in person, like filming a video. However, we worked with our friends at Edison Creative to ensure a recent video shoot was safe and sanitized for everyone involved. The COVID-driven concept for the video was in the style of Carpool Karaoke, allowing our on-screen talent (who are a married couple) to stay separated from our film crew. Everyone kept to a 6-foot distance, and only essential teammates were at the shoot, which took place outside. (We’re pretty proud of the resulting video!)
Some of our clients, like CRCC, previously offered their services exclusively in-person. The team there quickly responded to the needs of their clients and community, and now offer many of their services at home, by telehealth, and through a new program they developed called Learning Together at Home, which is a kit of 30-days-worth of guided activities that parents can do with their children.
VNA, who we have worked with for many years, is our community’s long-time expert on professional in-home health care — and has been for the past 124 years. They now find themselves on the front lines of caring for patients recovering from COVID-19 at home and have adjusted their procedures to be even more vigilant about the health and safety of both their staff and clients. We’ve helped communicate these new measures as they’ve elevated their expertise and knowledge, and brought these messages to a wider audience with targeted media relations efforts. We’re also honored to help share the love to VNA’s Healthcare Heroes as the crisis carries on.
Nonprofits that provide necessities like food have had to not only change the way they operate within new guidelines, but also figure out how to meet the increased need. Our friends at Heart Ministry Center are seeing twice the number of clients during their pantry days. And instead of serving their clients inside their building, they created a drive-through pantry where people don’t have to get out of their cars. We’ve helped them with media relations and donor communications during this time.
The team at Omaha Community Foundation has been the driving force behind Omaha Gives! since its inception in 2013, and because it is an online giving platform, it’s already positioned as the ideal opportunity for our community to support each other through this crisis. We’re helping them get the word out this month (Omaha Gives! is May 20!), and helping grow awareness about their COVID-19 Response Fund, which is addressing immediate needs in our community.
Experiential marketing was a growing trend until the pandemic hit. Our team had several in-person plans in motion for clients that we have had to transform into online experiences. While we were initially disappointed, taking these concepts online can elicit even more creative ideas and gain even more awareness for our clients. We’re so inspired by our friends at Omaha by Design, who recently published several community-based activities online through a new initiative called Exploration by Design — it’s the perfect mixture of online and in-person experiences and keeps us all connected to their mission.
In a few instances, a couple of us have been to the office (yes, we were there to snag our Aeron chairs for our home offices — there’s just no substitute!) or have visited printers to proof deliverables or conduct press checks. In each case, we’ve included only essential team members and have maintained a safe distance from each other. We’ve also worn masks when appropriate.
Our boss Elizebeth has been the real champ, keeping everyone’s spirits lifted with special deliveries to our homes (T-shirts and pie, oh my!) and positive words and smiles each day. We’re busy and thankful.
While we miss seeing each other in person, we’re grateful we can still build off of each other’s energy through our technology tools and are endlessly inspired by our clients. We encourage each other to get outside, go on walks, move our laptops to our patio and deck tables, enjoy the weather and take breaks in the sunshine.
And every Friday at 4:30, you’ll find us on Zoom, celebrating each other, our clients, and the successful completion of another busy week — and crossing our fingers for a safe and healthy return back to our office someday soon.