An article by Dimity Hawkins, Culture & Events Manager
When people ask me what I do in my role, I explain it in the most basic of terms; my job is to make sure the 100+ employees Orchard are as happy and connected with their team and work as possible.
With staff events and catch ups, fun snacks and human contact thrown out the window during COVID-19, figuring out how to keep my teammates metaphorically in the office whilst not disrupting their day to day was a huge consideration.
Using the principle of ‘same same, but different’, here are four things we made sure we continued for our staff during this extremely strange period, and what learnings we will continue to implement once the world returns to the ‘new’ normal.
1. Keeping Friday happy hour alive
Office: We have an amazing kitchen and bar that offers snacks and drinks every Friday from 4pm. It’s an opportunity for everyone in the Enero group to catch up, collaborate and start to unwind for the weekend (aka blow their diet).
Home: Like a lot of companies, we took to Zoom for our Friday drinks, with each person talking about the week’s highs and lows (internet speed was a big low for most). We also mixed things up a bit by holding game nights (Bingo, scavenger hunts, trivia etc) with prizes up for grabs.
With such a large group, it is crucial to have a ‘moderator’ to lead the conversation or activity. This allows the happy hour to flow naturally without the stop start of an awkward carpark encounter.
Learning: events and activities don’t have to cost a bomb to make them magical.
I am lucky to work with an amazing team at Orchard who don’t take themselves too seriously. They are always ready to get involved, even if it means running like mad around their home to find a spatula or three things that are blue for a scavenger hunt.
2. Lunch and Learn sessions
Office: Our in-house ‘Curious Lunches’ were designed by the team to bring in interesting speakers — both employees or other- to spark our curiosity, out the box thinking and expose us to partners and trends that can help better shape the outcomes of our work.
Home: The amount of raw talent we have at Orchard always blows me away. We made the Curious Lunches more hobby based, with an individual leading each sessions every Thursday lunch. We had yoga, drawing, calligraphy, dancing, cooking and even one of our colleagues reading children’s stories for the many parents juggling their work and kids.
Learning: crowd sourcing from your own teams’ talents is a sure-fire way to give yourself the warm and fuzzies. Getting an insight into another’s talent or hobby and then having them teach you about it is a great way to connect and keep those communication (and at times physical) muscles moving. Knowing that you are surrounded by some actual geniuses is always a bonus too 😉
3. Keep the information flowing
Office: along with the day to day communication and our end of month meetings, staff are regularly informed about all facets of the business, from finances to clients and industry information. We also have a bell for any ad-hoc information or call outs (and it may or may not be used to draw everyone in for birthday cakes).
Home: hats off to our managing partners for continuing to include us on the journey when discussing the COVID-19 status of Orchard. Being completely transparent and open guaranteed that no team member was left in the dark about any decisions made due to the pandemic. This was vital for morale and the feeling of job security and certainty.
Learning: we can take for granted the ease in which we are able communicate something instantly and on a large scale. Ensuring that both our Sydney and New York teams feel informed and their voices heard will now be more important than ever to continue.
4. We’re all in this together
This isn’t so much a learning, but something that has been affirmed during COVID. I know it’s now an over-saturated term (and has 100% revived the love of High School Musical for some), but it still holds true.
Leaning on one another’s strengths and focusing on what brought us to Orchard in the first place has made this transition not as difficult as it could have been.
By nature, I am a warm and fuzzy extrovert with a dash of Army major, so I thrive when talking to people and connecting daily. Some team members have loved their WFH time, others have struggled, but at the end of the day, all have been able to reach out and be candid about their mind set. Having that trust and large-scale camaraderie within a team is something I have only ever experienced working at Orchard and I believe will continue long after this time has passed.
The Orchard office is slowly reopening as the Government stages evolve. We can’t wait to welcome back our clients soon with a “hello chickens!” from reception.
Invent Better is a publication of Orchard