Fostering a Resilient Company, Community and Culture

Keeping Business moving through Remote Tools, Preserving Company Culture, and Finding What Matters Along the Way

By Thomas Dufour, Director of Accounts & Business Development, emBold

Late last year, our company, emBold, a web + mobile design and development digital agency, had entered and were finalists in a contest by TechOhio to determine which Ohio small business had the best startup culture in the state. Of course, in our application, we mentioned all of the great things we did together: our office ping pong table, our Friday company lunches at various Akron eateries, and our in-office LAN parties where we brought our family and friends for game nights. 

Thinking back on it – those were all things that we did together, face to face. In a sense, we were like a family.

Like most fortunate small businesses that were capable to operate remotely, we decided on Friday, March 13, to close our office amid the escalating situation with the coronavirupandemic and work from home the following week. We did this not only for the health and safety of the company but also for those we love and our respective communities at large. In what seems like a month ago, we’re just entering into our second week at home. But again, it isn’t about just us. We’re happy to do our small part in preventing the mass spread of this awful virus, and that means sustaining our business while practicing social distancing.

Like most small businesses, we had and have our worries. Like everyone else, we don’t have a crystal ball for the economic future – that is out of our control.

But what about the things that we can control? Of note: would we be able to maintain our close collaboration, our camaraderie, and our
culture through this shutdown without knowing how long it would last?

We thankfully had given some thought to remote work well before all of this began, so with having a head start, we went through our process and evaluated every part of it to make sure we could still execute from afar.

Currently, via Slackwe’re using channels and direct messages to keep in constant communication on projects and tasks while using plugins to monitor the uptime of various websites and code pushes to each of them. With Visual Studio Code we’re able to remotely jump into each other’s code editors to work through problems while talking through issues via a variety of voice chat services. We’re using ClickUp to maintain our tasks on projects and track progress, and Zoom to have meetings with clients and prospects alike. Plus, we’re keeping the tradition alive by substituting our Friday company lunches by having a Google Hangout while having online matches of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. So to answer our question, so far, we can say that the answer is a resounding “yes.” 

So the good news is, despite the virus, the mandatory shelter-in-place order and all that might seem wrong with the world right now, from what we’ve seen, not much has changed internally. New faces are joining our video chat meetings these

Last Friday, both Millie and Bubba joined us for our team conference call to offer their insight on which part of the neck is the best for scratching (it’s right behind the collar.) We’ve shared our awful pajama pants, our lackluster mismatching “work attire,” and we’ve collaborated on our projects as if we were sitting right next to each other despite being miles away. We’ve even had a wife or two pop in. 

In a way, we’ve gotten to know each other that much better.

We know things are tough right now, but we also know that they will get better. Like so many small businesses, we know that sometimes things have to be hard before they get easier. We’re ready to weather the storm. But more important than the dollars and cents of it all are the human connections we’re able to make and maintain while we’re all at home with our family. The incredible realization for all of us is that we’re at home with our family to protect our work family, and our work family is home to protect our community family, and our community is at home to protect our larger regional, state and national family, and so on. We’re all a big family, and just like a family binds together in times of need, so, too, shall we.

To quote the now-famous Medical Director of the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, “Life is not shutting us down. It is waking us up. This is not pulling us apart, it is pulling us together. This is our moment in time. I am not fearful. I am determined.”

P.S., Millie and Bubba encourage everyone to stay inside, pet your pets, and wash your hands!

Posted: March 25, 2020