With most agencies closing their offices nationwide and abroad due to the coronavirus outbreak, they're deploying creative ways to keep employees engaged in the new virtual bubble we're all working and living in.
"Work is the easy part in all of this right now," says John Caruso, co-founder, partner and chief creative officer of MCD Partners. "I mean most of us have worked remotely at some point, so operationally, we’ve been prepared to work from anywhere for a while. But this time it’s different. There was this moment once our entire team was working from home when we could feel this collective sense of, 'Um ok, now what?'"
From online meditiation to virtual pet-friendly happy hours, here are 10 ways agencies are answering that "now what?" question for employees.
To introduce their home offices to each other, as they will be working from them for the foreseeable future, MCD Partners, Canvas Worldwide and design and experience shop Jam3 have all launched their own versions of MTV's "Cribs"—the documentary-style show that once gave us common folk a peek inside celebrities' grandiose pads. While probably not as impressive as the mansions Mariah Carey or Missy Elliott inhabit, the agencies say their staff are showing off their home spaces through short virtual tours.
"It's been fun to see each other in our homes," MCD Partners' Caruso says. "Frankly, it’s a little lighthearted break from everything that’s going on. People have been sharing some solid productivity tips too, and showcasing pets, kids, collectibles and their style of emergency rations. It really underscores how we’re all dealing with the same thing, and that we’re all in this together, while being separated and apart."
Public-access agency tips
In the vein of public-access TV, creative communications agency Praytell launched Praytellovision, where employees create their own episodes to share stories and tips on topics like building a vinyl collection, the basics of improv comedy, how to make dumplings, and dating horror tales (before social distancing pretty much nixed all opportunity of going on a physical date). Any of Praytell's employees can start an episode; the requirements are: pitch a brief description, set a time and post it with a Google Hangout link for the rest of the staff to enjoy.
Several agencies are offering online meditation classes for staff to ensure employees are taking care of their mental health while social distancing. Havas New York, for example, is taking its in-office meditation and yoga classes online via Instagram Live through March. Havas' "Mantra Meditation with Gemma" is every Monday at 4 p.m. ET and "Kundalini Yoga with HariPrakaash" is each Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.
Berlin Cameron is also hosting online its "Hump Day Humm," a weekly meditation session it holds in-office every Wednesday. Led by one of Berlin Cameron's strategists, who is also a yoga instructor, it is also now broadcast on Instagram Live.
Work from home playlists
Leaning on the power of music to unite its people, Adam&Eve DDB kicks off every morning with "WFH Bangers," a Spotify playlist that staff members curate on a rotating basis. In this way, the agency says, employees can continue to hear the same tunes they'd normally hear being played throughout the office as they work remotely. Other ways Adam&Eve DDB says employees are banding together from afar include "wearing unified colors or dress codes to feel like they’re still together" and showing off their work spaces on social media through hashtags like #DreamyDesks and #MugShots (them with their favorite mugs of tea or coffee).
Being quarantined inside is proving difficult for staying active—not only for obvious reasons, like lack of exercise equipment, but because, let's face it, it's hard to stay motivated cooped up in our homes while the outside world is in turmoil. So, various agencies—including EP+Co, OH Partners, Modifly, Mering and even The Webby Awards (which hosts a 10-minute fitness challenge for all employees at 3:45 p.m. ET.) are acting as de facto trainers for the time being by hosting their own exercise classes. Matt Moore, chief creative officer of OH partners, says one of the agency's social media strategists, and "most athletic teammate," leads staff in a 30-minute workout "with items you would find around your house or just exercises you can do without anything else."