Working From Home? Improvise Like the Utah Jazz.

For a long time, we’ve said that our job is to “put butts in seats.” And, we mean that literally. Our parent company owns the Utah Jazz basketball team, a minor-league baseball team, a chain of movie theaters, 65 car dealerships, and more. That’s a lot of seats in need of butts!

Then, COVID-19 hit and made all butts (including ours) stay at home and all seats stay empty for months. It’s been an interesting journey. As we’ve adapted, we’ve learned a few important things along the way.

Keep Your Culture Alive. Just a few weeks before we all started working from home, our agency merged with another in-house team that did digital work for our automotive clients. We wanted to assimilate them into our culture and found ourselves doing so via Zoom meetings and Slack. The key was to keep doing everything we did before—maintaining the same sorts of conversations and inside jokes that always made us a fun place to work, but to do it in a new way.

We created dedicated Slack channels for everything from recipes to ’80s TV shows. Our “culture club” switched from planning parties to coming up with clever ways to keep everyone engaged, from writing a serial story together to asking “would you rather” questions. We might not be exactly the same agency we were before, but we still have that spark that makes us special.

Modify Your Expectations. One of the biggest projects we had in the immediate aftermath of the switch to working from home was finding a way to adapt our parent company’s annual employee-wide broadcast to something that could be filmed, edited, and broadcast without any butts leaving our seats at home. That meant we couldn’t interview people in person or film B-roll with our nice video equipment.

So, we experimented—recording Zoom calls to see if they could work as interviews for awards videos and as a presentation. We knew we weren’t going to get full 4K quality, but we found a way to record good video and audio. The creative team worked hard to edit the videos and put together an earnest, heartfelt broadcast that, though it may have lacked the highest production values, more than made up for it in workmanship and polish.

It may still be a while before all of our butts are back together in the office. In the meantime, we’ve proven to our clients and, moreover, to ourselves that we’ve got everything we need to deliver quality solutions no matter where we are.

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