Over the past year, how we run our agency has evolved due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I joined the team only about a month before we had to shut down our office, but feel lucky that we were able to record this podcast together in person, about 15 months later.
I sat down with co-founders of our agency, Greg Finn and Matt Mombrea, to discuss how the pandemic has affected our agency, and how we have grown from it. Check out the episode to hear what we have learned and for feedback from our employee survey!
Here’s some of the takeaways from our conversation!
When COVID-19 First Hit
No one knew what was going to happen when COVID-19 hit the United States. As we sat in our old office, circled around our ping pong table, we had a hard decision on our hands.
Greg and Matt have always had such a great relationship when it comes to running their business, and their exchange of ideas always brings out multiple different perspectives, making it easy to see the bigger picture of a situation.
We weren’t sure about the severity of what might be headed our way, but we knew that whatever happened, our people are our most important asset and we needed to protect them.
We decided before there was even a single case in our county, to shut down the office and work fully from home, not knowing whether this would be for a few weeks, or forever.
Going Fully Remote
Before the pandemic, our team seldom, if ever, worked remotely, so this was a huge challenge for us.
We had to make sure everyone had all the equipment that they needed to be comfortable at home and to be fully connected to the rest of the team, as well as our clients.
We bought out all the webcams and headsets that we could find on Amazon and made sure that everyone was able to take their setups from the office home with them, including extra monitors, keyboards, chairs, and anything else that made working from home more comfortable.
We already had Slack in place for in-office communication, but that really became a lifeline for a lot of us.
We also transitioned to using Zoom for client calls and internal meetings, rather than using traditional audio calls. Personally, I love being on video with anyone I’m talking to, so I can read body language or pauses more accurately.
Challenges We Faced
We were all a little hesitant about how working from home would go for our entire team.
Would we be able to accomplish as much working from wi-fi at home with distractions?
Would some people take this as just a mini-vacation?
Are they just going to be watching Netflix all day instead of being productive?
All of these worries crossed our minds, but our team proved that all to be false! They gave their all, every day.
For the parents on our team, the shutdown created a very unique challenge: we were home trying to be productive at work and playing the role of caretaker and teacher at the same time. Sometimes, it felt less like “work from home” and more like “survive from home”.
Some of our clients had to pause efforts with us while they worked to keep themselves afloat. This was scary and we had to get our new business engine roaring.
As we continued to grow, we needed to hire new people and train them. Remote training is much harder than in person and proved to be a big challenge.
Our Biggest Wins
The pandemic was a catastrophic event for the world but we had a lot of positive outcomes at Cypress North. We are resilient!
- We were able to keep all of our team members active and employed throughout all of the pandemic, and even grew our team along the way!
- We kept our community and culture alive virtually through fun Slack channels and zoom get-togethers.
- Remote work became more feasible, even post pandemic, as we saw the great work that our team produced, even under the circumstances.
- We primed our business to kickstart client work as soon as they were ready for our help again, making us an invaluable part of their post-pandemic plan.
- We established more frequent growth check-ins with all of our team members to make sure that they felt seen and valued, and to provide the support that they needed from us.
- We kept each other sane through team meetings, which started out being daily, and gradually switched over to twice a week. It was great to still be able to see everyone’s smiling faces!
- We created a ton of Cypress North content. Our team published our first book: The Ultimate Google Ads Playbook. We wrote whitepapers and started hosting monthly digital marketing panels on youtube with other industry experts.
- Even remotely, we never missed a weekly episode of our podcast, Marketing O’Clock.
Coming Back to the Office
As we began to plan for our return to the office, we made sure to respect everyone’s wishes and concerns.
We constantly asked for feedback from our employees and never forced anyone to come in. We opened our office in November 2020, allowing our employees to come in (following all NYS and CDC guidelines) and those who weren’t comfortable yet stayed remote.
We made it very clear that everyone had the option to work from home when needed. By June 1, 2021, all of our employees are back in the office almost every day.
It’s great to be back in the office since our agency really values collaboration, and just generally loves being around each other.
The fact that 21 people choose to be in the office together, instead of staying home in their pajamas, speaks volumes about our culture.
Even though it was a weird year, we persevered and came out even better on the other side. Our employees shared stories in their surveys about feeling more connected, since we’ve all been through something huge together.
While some other companies are talking about “never going back into a physical office”, we recognize that model is just not for us. Everyone has the ability to work from home on a more regular basis now and the flexibility to get things done on their time. But we will always have a physical space to bring us together.
We talk about these topics in more detail in the full episode, so make sure to listen on YouTube or your favorite podcast player. We’d also love to hear your experiences, lessons learned, and things you hope never go back to “normal”.
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About The Agency Scoop
Each episode, we tackle a specific topic with another friend from Cypress North or pull in leaders from other companies. We’ll chat about what’s helping our agency grow, how we work with clients, things that bring us joy, and even the challenges we face. Please subscribe on your favorite podcast player to follow along!