The most successful brands are expressions of their culture. If a company knows who it is and what it stands for, everything else — profits, practices, policies — falls right in line.
Luckily, nothing can stop this kind of culture. Not even a pandemic. And thanks to COVID-19, many companies are testing this theory in real-time — BrightWave included.
Before coronavirus, most of us would have told you our company culture was Siren, our great hall and gathering spot. Or perhaps we would’ve mentioned our snack room. Or our monthly Remarkable luncheons and Scuttlebutt happy hours.
But ask any of us now, and we would probably say something very different. Today our culture is defined by empathy, flexibility, adaptability and transparency. We may be drinking from different water coolers, but we’re all still sailing the same ship.
And as every great sailor knows, crews have to connect, collaborate and have a little fun every now and then. Here are just a few of the ways we’re bringing culture up on deck for everyone to enjoy.
Hooray for Parlay
One of the highlights of BrightWave culture has always been our Remarkable meetings, followed by a monthly lunch. And while there’s no virtual refreshments at the moment, Remarkable has made a smooth transition to the digital space.
It’s been a much-needed way to highlight our best projects, biggest wins and salute outstanding crew members. We also use the time to discuss the ever-evolving WFH situation, our financial goals, current challenges and more. Being upfront and honest about the ways COVID is impacting the way we work creates a culture of transparency and trust.
We don’t see each other as often as we used to, but BrightWave has bridged the gap with fun initiatives like our First Mate Spotlight. In these short videos, teammates are honored on their BrightWave anniversaries with a short Q&A video.
And every Friday, we launch a Port of Call email that recaps weekly wins and team member kudos. It’s a great way to know what’s going on in the agency, and start the weekend on a high note.
What’s better than a day off? A surprise day off! On the Monday before Memorial Day, BrightWave leadership rewarded the crew’s hard work by announcing an unplanned four-day weekend.
The gesture was a big morale-booster for the team, who has gracefully navigated the challenges and shifting priorities of these last few months. And of course, as everyone knows, well-rested sailors make for a better, happier crew.
Back in the old days, BrightWave’s social calendar revolved around Scuttlebutt, our monthly happy hour named after the casks that served water — and sometimes stronger stuff — on the high seas. Our company events were often themed and featured seasonal foods and drinks.
These days, when it comes to cheers, we’ve had to get creative. With the help of our client, Airbnb, and its virtual experiences, our creative team took a digital trip to Portugal, where we learned to make traditional sangria with the help of some very entertaining drag queens.
This event went over so well, we took the concept company wide for our Drinks on Deck Scuttlebutt. Three BrightWavians demonstrated their favorite summer cocktails before a live audience, and our resident beer and wine experts gave us recommendations for excellent summer sips. These events prove that even distance can’t stop the happiness of our happy hours.
One of the most amusing parts of WFH has been getting a glimpse of each other’s lives — our desk setups and all the impromptu kid and pet cameos on our Zoom calls. It’s a fascinating look at who we are at home, and everyone’s letting their personalities shine.
The crew is embracing this newfound sense of freedom with customized Zoom backgrounds, and a host of new Slack channels. People are posting their adorable pet photos, and there’s even an Artists of BrightWave channel where we share our latest guitar solos, crochet sweaters and paintings. We also launched a hugely successful Throwback Thursday channel full of awkward childhood photos, prom pics and more.
As for Scuttlebutt, we’ve taken this concept of user-generated content a step further. We recorded a music video featuring our kids, pets and even our plants dancing to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “You’re a Shining Star.” Yep, we’re one crazy, creative crew.
For many, working from home has come with a unique set of challenges. How do you unwind at the end of the day? How do you take a lunch break? How the heck do you homeschool your kids and work a full-time job?
Our team has been very understanding of these challenges, and all the ways COVID can impact our mental and physical health. That’s why flexibility has become such a high priority. Healthy eating and good habits are strongly encouraged. And team members are applauded for taking breaks to soak up some Vitamin D.
Last month, BrightWave even participated in Liveable Buckhead’s May Walk Challenge. Coinciding with the beautiful spring weather, over a third of the company signed up to track and earn points for their daily steps, meditation sessions and other health activities. Providing connection and some healthy competition, the challenge was also an incentive to get outside and grind out 10,000 steps.
Smooth Seas Don’t Make Skillful Sailors
Yes, this pandemic has been longer and harder than anyone imagined, but we’re lucky to have the technology and organizational structure to keep on sailing. And though the winds change weekly, and we don’t know when this ship will sail back to port, the crew is getting closer, and we’ve exercised muscles we didn’t even know we had. The next time we’re all together for a toast, we’ll be stronger than ever.