Along with all businesses right now, Celtic has had to quickly adapt to the strange new norm that is Covid-19. With the office working from home, each department at the agency has had to evolve to meet the needs of our clients. To get a better idea of what our team has been up to and how they have had to adjust, we asked each director to share what they’ve learned from the past couple months and helpful advice for the time ahead.
Social & Content: Jeremy Hogan
As the Social and Content team, it should come as no surprise that communication is key to how we function as a group. While we can’t check in over a quick deskside chat or grab a conference room for a brainstorm, we still have the ability to keep in touch. Here are some helpful tools and tactics for working remotely:
Digital Whiteboard To keep tabs on everything, we’ve long relied on a shared whiteboard in the office for tracking projects. We’ve been able to convert to a digital version of the whiteboard through a tool (available through Kanbanchi or shared Google Sheet) which helps us relay updates and information.
Rate the Channel Our team has adopted unwritten rules for communicating one-on-one. Sending an e-mail is for items that need a response “within a few hours.” Texts are slightly more urgent, but typically mean “within 15-20 minutes.” Phone calls are held for those items that really need an urgent response. There’s nothing worse than hitting a groove and being interrupted for something that’s not pressing, so try to minimize unplanned disruptions.
Creative: Kurt Maloy
I crave attention. With the paucity of staff in the office these days, I’ve had to turn to other methods to fill the well. For example, I send out a daily email wishing the Creatives a hearty good morning, usually with some non sequitur message, in order to prime responsiveness. It usually works to get the dialogue going for the first hour of operations.
I have also upped my game derailing meetings. The idle chatter really helps get the creative juices flowing. As far as brainstorming goes, it’s pretty much the same process—introduce the project then start talking about something else for about thirty minutes.
The difficulty comes when doling out my special brand of direction. Sarcasm is lost in emails. And acting out is just not as effective on Zoom (I’m thinking about adding more cameras). I am still getting great work and projects are moving forward, but I miss everybody. I like my humanity in person.
Digital: Danielle Vitogiannes
Tech Overload Zoom is fantastic, but finding a balance is critical. Sometimes a good ‘ol fashioned phone call makes more sense. We were so used to being able to walk down the hall, shout out the office door or have a hallway convo. Without these in-person luxuries we sometimes find ourselves firing up Zooms for 5 minute chats; which can eat up your day.
Find Your Boundaries Blending work and home life can be challenging within the same environment. Giving yourself structure and boundaries to “start and stop” allows the brain a chance to switch between status reports and taking time to call Mom. Everyone is working hard, sometimes you can be in the zone, look up and realize its 7:00pm.
Empathy Don’t forget to ask how people are doing. We all need each other right now and lending an ear can make a colleague’s day. We may not be able to stand around the coffee machine and chat about our weekend plans, but that shouldn’t stop us from simply asking “how are you?”
Client Services: Lee Hillerich
Over-communication is key during a situation like this. The client services team will get on calls with one another that may not even be work related just to catch up on life stuff— it’s important to keep things somewhat organic too. Our clients have also been enjoying the Zoom calls. Just being able to catch up with them and see their faces makes such a difference as opposed to just a phone call.
Associations: Deb Ryan
The Move to Virtual Meetings The Associations Team, just back from its first conference of the year in sunny California, switched gears on a dime in early March. Rather than putting the finishing touches on the next planned conference in Chicago, (and with only six weeks to spare) we had to cancel the hotel and re-configure the three-and–a-half-day, in-person conference into a two-day webinar. The transformation included live and pre-recorded presentations. And this was before we started sheltering from home! Once home, things kicked into high gear— calculating new virtual registration rates and corresponding refunds, writing detailed member and attendee communications about all the changes, upgrading our Zoom to a Webinar account, answering the myriad questions from the client, attendees, potential attendees, and each other!
Renegotiation of Contracts for Hotels While we managed the lead-up to the first virtual meeting, we also worked with our clients to protect their interests by negotiating with hotels to cancel and re-book five additional conferences. The first virtual meeting was a success with over 150 people in attendance. The client is happy and we are hard at work planning the next virtual webinar. None of us expected that February conference to be our last for 2020. Now we will be happy to travel back to the office!