Moving one office into 56 homes, indefinitely
It feels like both a year ago and a day ago that COVID-19 forced us to pack up our bags and start working from home. We are exceptionally fortunate to thrive in a working-from-home environment. We’re also not void of the emotional journey the pandemic has created.
What Core Creative’s leadership ended up planning for the future of our agency, its employees and clients, not long after the initial stay-at-home orders started, was beyond any of our imaginations.
Core has adopted a new style of working that gives employees relief and confidence to excel for their clients.
Set up for success
The pandemic creates uncertainty in all parts of life. Each person works to create stability to help ground themselves in more certainty from one moment to the next. While every Core employee was doing that in March and April, Core’s leadership team was gauging all our many unique needs with one-on-one meetings and surveys.
Some people needed better internet. Others needed better computer systems. We needed effective and efficient data sharing and transferring, and we needed ways to stay connected. Core’s partners and many other employees stepped up to the plate to run around the region, dropping off much needed items to keep people working efficiently.
“Within days, our employees were up and running from home,” says Jeff Speech, partner/vice president of Design Services at Core Creative. “Every single person took the initiative to make this transition smooth. We even had people inventing things to be able to work more efficiently from home.”
That personal initiative across the board is what convinced Jeff and the rest of the VP team that Core Creative was ready to take a leap into a new way of working, called hoteling.
Transitioning to hoteling, focusing on clients
After polling the employees of Core, it was clear that the new remote style of working was suiting everyone’s unique lives.
“Our people are always our priority. We discovered that when our team is able to work from home, they are happier and healthier. As a result, they push harder for their clients and their brands.” – Beth Crivello-Wagner, Vice President, Brand Services
About a month after COVID-19 sent us home to work, Core gathered its employees in a virtual Town Hall meeting and announced the new hoteling structure would be put in place. The plan was to lease one of our two floors and turn our top floor into more individual and shared working spaces that people can sign out when they want to come into the office — hoteling.
“I couldn’t believe it. I had never heard of hoteling,” says Angela Fioretti, senior art director at Core Creative. “Once it sunk in, I was really relieved. It motivated me to create a permanent home office and I was able to let go of some of the unease that comes with the pandemic.”
Core provided a stipend for those who needed to develop home offices. We got to work on a more robust virtual infrastructure, using digital whiteboards and story mapping to concept ideas and conduct messaging workshops with clients. We expanded our arsenal of digital tools to better facilitate client-facing collaboration for brand discovery and planning workshops. Virtual concepting is even allowing us to bring our clients into the creative process more easily, pulling back the curtain and inviting them to the table with us so they feel excited about the process and confident that we’re meeting the high expectations they set for their brand.
Internally, our agency had already established Slack for robust internal communications and workflow needs prior to the pandemic. Today, it’s our main tool for individual and group communication as well as video conferencing for planned and spur-of-the-moment collaboration. Our file server was also prepared for more extensive remote access and our talented tech team ramped up security to make sure all our home workstations were impenetrable by digital villains. We adopted surveying tools to gauge employee needs and keep our culture strong and connected. We use digital tools like Wipster, an easy-to-use, client-facing tool for commenting on video project, and Zoom to make our remote set-ups more efficient. These digital resources allow us to perfect our collaboration and communication with each other, our partners and clients.
Today, Core’s offices are in 56 locations across Southeastern Wisconsin — working seamlessly day to day. Our Virginia Street office is our 57th location and is also open with hoteling safely in effect. To ensure everyone’s safety when they do decide to visit, we have established rigorous standards that adhere to CDC guidelines.
Living our brand
If you’ve had the chance to spend time at Core, you’ll notice we’re filled with ridiculously talented people who have the highest quality character. Each person is hyper focused on creating the best work and results for our clients.
As for Core’s leadership, one of their vital roles is to address employee needs. During this pandemic, they took that responsibility to a new level. By permanently moving to hoteling, leadership gave employees the ability to empower themselves for their health and safety. Exactly what we all needed in order to focus on our clients.
“To be able to ideate and reflect is an important part of my creative process,” says Amy Congemi, senior designer at Core Creative. “Now, I have the flexibility to do that more easily at home. We have the best of all worlds — working at home, virtually and in our hoteling office.”
Core’s progressive approach to working is one of the greatest examples of living our brand philosophy — Say it. Live it. This tremendously strong community and culture of “we” was created and nurtured over the years and it’s only gotten stronger.
“Core is ahead of the game,” says Nellie Vance, designer at Core Creative. “Not only do I have more ownership over my projects, learning and troubleshooting, I’m able to work on a new, deeper level with my immediate team. We’re truly in it together.”
I know I’m not alone when I say, Core is reaching a working nirvana that empowers employees, invigorates innovation and ripples out to incredible client collaboration, executions and results. While so many other question marks linger over our heads as a result of the pandemic, Core, our future here and our commitment to our clients’ success isn’t one of them.
Contact us with any questions. Core’s own brand is an example of the strength internal branding has on the external brand.