How can agency owners keep their teams motivated, their cultures alive and their staff mentally fit during the Covid-19 lockdown?

It already seems like years ago when we used to yearn for the days when we could work from home, ‘to get s**t done’. 

However, here at Tin Man, it’s amazing how quickly we’ve started to miss the buzz, banter and energy of the office environment. 

Along with our peers, we’re flat out, assessing and advising on our clients’ opportunities and challenges, media landscape and the rules of media relations in this new world order. But, beyond the business driving and client support, as an industry, how do we keep teams motivated, our cultures alive and our staff mentally fit and healthy? How are we adapting to the ‘new normal’?

Thankfully, we work in comms. If we didn’t do ‘connected’ well – there'd be a problem! And, as a nimble agency, we’ve been able to pivot quickly so there’s been minimal impact so far. I'd like to think, so far - we’ve got this…

Here are a few things that are working well and helping us as an agency communicate, retain our culture and look after one another.

1. Video conferences

We’re of course keeping all usual team catch-ups in the diary but replacing with video conferencing. And before our usual Friday morning catch up, we’ve introduced Tin Man @ Home, where the team share favourite pictures from their week – from yoga poses to neat wardrobes, a lunchtime walk or a gorgeous sunrise. I know another agency peer who is introducing ‘house cribs’ where each day a team member gives colleagues a tour of their home.

Why? Because being able to visualise other team members’ workspaces and environments is important for productivity and motivation. Psychologically it’s important to feeling connected when working from different parts of the country.

2. Laughter is vital

We’re encouraging the sharing of jokes and memes, laughing about rogue video call invaders – hello kids, dogs, mums, etc - to offer some much-needed light relief in these anxious and trying times. Individual teams are getting together for virtual lunches and regular coffee breaks plus ‘meeting’ for the usual 5pm Friday night office drink.

3. Networking

We’ve created a ‘quaran-team’ social calendar, with upcoming events including a Tin Man Book Club, where teams have been surveyed to choose a book to read which we’ve then sent to them all via Amazon. We’re meeting over Zoom in a couple of weeks (BYO snacks and drinks) to discuss. Meanwhile, we’ve taken our planned agency ‘quiz & fizz’ night out online with individual team groups (including other halves), prizes for the best dressed as well as a treats delivery for the winners.

4. Mental health

And, of course, during these crazy days, we’re more conscious of our teams’ mental health and wellbeing more than ever before. We’ve circulated links to great resources, including ideas and helpful tips from Mind, and reiterated how important it is to stay in touch with team members, line managers and our usual Tin Man mental health taskforce via their dedicated email address.

These are just some of the ideas we’ve implemented so far, from an industry that we know is teeming with them, as our friends throughout the sector similarly scramble to hold hands across the airwaves.

There have been some great thought pieces coming out over the last week about how this is our chance to ‘reset’ humanity and the way we connect and engage with each other going forwards. The ingenious ways in which we reach out and hold each other up now, virtually, should steer us when we re-emerge, blinking, back into the light.

Written by Mandy Sharp, founder of agency Tin Man Communications