By Geoff Cook, Partner at Base Design

Geoff Cook, Partner at Base Design

This past week, I awoke to our internal, daily “Working From Home” newsletter. Started by our ever-proactive business team, the initiative was conceived to lift the spirits of the Base crew during these difficult times. This newsletter however was different because it was directed at us, the partners. Referenced here, it was an animated thank you note of sorts with a photoshopped version of us as Charlie’s Angels as the grand finale…kinda hilarious and creepy all in one! It was my first time receiving such a “note’ in my two decades of Base and, outside of being deeply touched emotionally, it made me realize how tight a team we have become during the pandemic. But this didn’t happen by chance. The newsletter and a series of other actions have been a carefully crafted program of efforts by the business team to bring us together in a time when we have been physically forced apart.

I knew the team had big intentions when early on in the newsletters there was a link to an anonymous survey. “A survey?” I thought, “In my office?! What on earth?!…”A simple Typeform, the team presented a series of maybe 6-7 questions asking about our state of mind, our productivity, and anything the team wanted the leadership to know. And when the results came in each week, we addressed any comments or concerns. The surveys not only gave us, the partners, a read on the state of affairs in the studio, but also allowed every voice to be heard in a trying time. As we evolved, so, too did the surveys. This week for example, the survey was one simple question: What have you learned professionally and personally during the quarantine?”

The business team also instituted a 9 am call of “Daily Challenges.” Exactly what it sounds like, the call gives the team a chance to level set at the beginning of each day. Every Friday, the call includes a COVID report based on the latest news cycle and its implications on the studio. The team also included a new business report to keep the studio informed of work coming down the pike. Like a good Churchill speech, we’ve found that telling it like it is has proven very comforting for all involved.

From there, they also set up a buddy system where from week to week, we each find ourselves chatting with a different member of the studio. The conversations quickly veered away from work to include, yes, the Corona Virus, but also what it was like to teach students remotely, the joys of various locales across the northeast, golf, music. With each conversation, I found myself getting to know–really KNOW–my team.

The coup de grace was when the team added Friday happy hour. By Zoom, of course. Happy hour soon included games: Guess each team member’s vice (mine is Turkish pistachios). Base historical trivia (yes, the first terms for Base New York were written on the back of a napkin at the Falstaff café in Brussels). Pop culture trivia (something about which video Britney Spears was wearing something in… I obviously punted). On Zoom’s gallery setting, we were Hollywood Squares 2020.

The moral of the story is simple…with each happy hour, trivia game, and buddy call, I’ve felt the team closer than we ever were in our physical studio setting. And though we’ve always professed to be a “creative first” company, in this case, it has been the creativity of the business team that has strengthened our studio culture at a moment when we needed it the most.