From communal meeting spaces to office parties, the setup of a traditional, on-site workplace lends itself to employee engagement. However, as more agencies adopt work-from-home or flex-location policies for the long term, they may face new challenges in keeping staff engaged.
Luckily, even with more remote and blended options, your agency can still offer excitement, energy and connection. It just takes a bit of creativity and innovative thinking. To help, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council share how they plan to make their remote or hybrid agency a more interesting and engaging place to work this year.
Forbes Agency Council members share ways their agencies are making the workplace more interesting in 2021.
1. Planning Virtual Team Activities
Even virtually, you can utilize great tools and activities to empower and inspire your team. Here are some that we employed in 2020 to help us stay sane and connected as a team: a virtual escape room, virtual drinks and trivia night, meditation/yoga class, a weekly creativity hour for our kids and a private Facebook group to share team successes. – Jaymie A. Scotto Cutaia, Jaymie Scotto & Associates (JSA)
2. Encouraging Non-Work-Related Communication
It’s important to keep the team engaged, no matter the circumstances. If the team cannot meet in person, make sure to encourage non-work-related communication through quick calls on a daily basis. Promote non-work-related online and offline activities, and remember to reward their hard work, be it through words, gifts or even with some time off once in a while. – Maddie Raedts, IMA – Influencer Marketing Agency
3. Writing A Book Together
We’re writing a book together as a company. It’s something that everyone can participate in, and it brings us together for a common cause that doesn’t involve client work. Every member of our team gets to be an author and contribute to a finished book that they can be proud of for decades. – Greg Trimble, Lemonade Stand
4. Focusing More On Relationship Building
To focus on building relationships with employees, we’re asking employees how we can serve them in this season of growth, where everyone is striving to stay afloat mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. Listening to your employees’ feedback is the only true way to ascertain needed change and implement effective results. – Janét Aizenstros, Ahava Digital Group
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5. Offering Tech Solutions To Make Jobs Easier
We connect more often with staff and contractors to better understand their needs under Covid-19 lockdown, and we offer technology solutions to make their job easier. These solutions include organizing tools and AI-powered software. – Jim Caruso, M1PR, Inc. d/b/a MediaFirst PR – Atlanta
6. Prioritizing Flexibility And Respect
Offer the flexibility to work during different time periods, recognizing the need to juggle personal responsibilities. Respect what people are feeling; ask how they are and listen. Sometimes people just want to talk. Be open to new ideas from anyone in the organization. Your team can be a great source for ideas for the new workplace. – Carl Fremont, Quigley-Simpson
7. Reminding People Of Activities To Look Forward To
We made the tough but responsible decision to postpone our holiday party last year, but assured everyone that it would be back and something to look forward to once celebrating is safe again. Employees are reminded of the party, along with our other regular (pre-pandemic) outings, such as baseball games, film festivals, happy hours, and more; and these events will be even more enticing once we are able to get back to normal. – Larry Gurreri, Sosemo LLC
8. Setting Up Randomized Virtual Meetings Between Team Members
As we near our one-year anniversary of working remotely, it’s critical that we find new ways to stay connected and engaged. This year we’re focusing on interpersonal connections across our team by setting up randomized virtual meetings between our team members through a Slack application called Donut. These meetings allow time to build relationships and foster the culture that we built in the office. – Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH
9. Creating Our ‘Workplace Of The Future’
The priority this year is going to be creating our “workplace of the future,” which blends the value of flexibility (working from home) with the impact of in-person interaction and collaboration. The rulebook has been thrown out, and organizations that find this balance will reap rewards, while others will be caught flat-footed and suffer in terms of employee churn and overall innovation and output. – Michael Mothner, Wpromote
10. Hiring A ‘Director Of People Success’
We are hiring for a high-level “Director of People Success” role through a specialized consultant to find the right candidate. We’ve reached the point where traditional means of recruiting and retaining talent don’t cut it. There is a new playbook being developed to manage the talent continuum in a work-from-home era, and finding a point person to lead the efforts will be instrumental in nailing the new requirements. – Lindsey Groepper, BLASTmedia
11. Having Virtual Talks About Our Personal Lives
Our agency has been working primarily virtually since long before it was cool, or necessary. We regularly do virtual meetings where we not only share information, but also talk about our lives. We recently had a pet show-and-tell, and we’ve done others on vacation spots or favorite holiday traditions. It’s amazing what giving the company time to talk about personal things can do for camaraderie. – Jodi Amendola, Amendola Communications
12. Consistently Coordinating Team Activities And Surprises
With remote work, we look to find fun ways to keep our culture alive. One way is through consistent team activities and surprises. We’ve coordinated weekly Zoom happy hours, played online games, sent small gifts to people’s homes, set up virtual holiday parties and more. At this company, we’re like a family, and we want to create opportunities to be together while we’re apart. – Marc Becker, The Tangent Agency
13. Hosting Monthly Non-Work-Related Staff Activities
We have made it a priority to have monthly staff activities that are totally non-work-related, such as trivia nights, with the main goal being to boost morale and keep us close. We are making sure that we’re consistent in hosting these events so that the staff can look forward to them. As an extremely close team, our priority is to maintain our culture and check in on one another, no matter where we are. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing
14. Adding Exciting New Responsibilities
We continue to give our team members a lot of freedom as remote work reshapes our workplace. We’ve added new responsibilities to their roles to keep them engaged, and we focus on cross-training to ensure that we can all support each other as needed. An important part of our employee experience is working toward both a common goal for the business and personal goals for each team member. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.
15. Building A Sense Of Community With A Culture Manual
As we continue building out an engaging remote workplace, we are focused on how we can build our culture and sense of community. One way we have done this is through a culture manual that has a section dedicated to understanding what team members are looking for and ways they prefer to engage and communicate with others. – Jonathan Hanson, Unconquered
Successful PR, media strategy, creative and advertising executives from Forbes Agency Council share trends and tips