As many businesses have reopened offices and established in-person schedules, Stella Rising has opted to remain remote post-pandemic.
Stella Rising balances remote work with in-person ‘missions’
The media agency has offices in Connecticut and Manhattan, but it has implemented a “work when you are at your best” policy that allows flexible hours to accommodate greater work-life balance, as well as agency-wide “quiet hours” to further the divide between business and home—even when desks aren’t far from living spaces.
Stella Rising’s work culture is heavily influenced by employee feedback, which the agency receives through a variety of methods from submissions via its new “StellaNet” information hub to weekly all-hands meetings or quarterly one-on-one meetings for all 75 employees with CEO Andrea Van Dam. But Stella Rising hasn’t fully abandoned ship on in-person team building.
“Because we're a remote company, by allowing people to come together on teams that might not normally interact, you get a whole different experience,” said Kate Dillon, chief people officer at Stella Rising, noting that the ways in which this is done have changed since the pandemic.
In addition to outings such as cooking classes, book clubs, the Stella Olympics and Stella Carnival (many of which can be attended virtually as well), the agency launched “Company Missions” in 2022. These excursions, which employees may apply to attend, gather small teams to problem-solve or innovate based on company or client needs. The first edition took place in Angels Landing, Utah, where the employee group brainstormed ideas for future business. Another mission in December partnered an employee group with a charity supporting Ukrainian refugees.
“It’s about removing yourself from the day-to-day and really opening up your mind, to be able to push the boundaries—pushing your boundaries both personally and professionally was a really big initiative" in 2022, said Dillon.
The excursions are part of Stella Rising’s newly implemented “Stella Growth Path” plans, which map each employee’s past achievements and future goals for which the agency will provide educational solutions. The agency achieved a 90% employee retention rate as well as promotions for 30% of staff during 2022.
What will set apart Stella Rising as a Best Place to Work amid the challenges of 2023?
CEO Andrea Van Dam: "As a people-centric company, the Stellas know they are priority No. 1 and that we operate with a consistent level of empathy and care in good or hard times. Transparent and frequent communication about the state of our business keeps us aligned as a team. There are no secrets."