Thursday, March 12, 2020. This was the last day we were together as a team in our physical brick and mortar space, until this past Wednesday, June 16, 2021 when we had our first all-hands meeting in the office. Even if nobody else jumps on the bandwagon, I’m affectionately dubbing this day “The Great Return.”
I’m not sure if any of us were even close to expecting to spend the next 461 days working remotely, but we did it, and we thrived. ONeil Interactive entered the pandemic a mighty team of 16 and emerged an even more powerful unit of 22, a growth of over 37%. To give you perspective, Amazon increased their labor force by 23.24% in 2020. And yes, I understand the concept of scale as they are a multi-national technology company adding 150,000 new employees to their roster compared to our 6 net new jobs. However, I found a list of Fortune 500 Companies That Added the Most New Jobs in 2020 and only 13 of 50 exceeded 20% in employee growth. I’d say that fares well in our favor as far as accomplishments.
We’ve been lucky to find great people, but it is NOT easy hiring, onboarding, and assimilating new team members remotely. We eventually figured out more efficient processes and documentation to help with orientation, but I took for granted the banter and camaraderie that was cultivated when we were regularly in the office. Our new additions only experienced our culture as it presents itself in the “Everybody” group chat with GIFs and memes, or during our weekly, 30-minute Nom Nom Knowledge lunch sessions. So while productivity didn’t slow, the relationships were a bit muted.
Since we announced that we will only require our team to be in the office one day a month, and as an entire company once a quarter, there was a lot of pressure on “The Great Return.” It felt like the first day of school, (I picked out my outfit the night before) and I entered the day excited, a little nervous, and unsure what to expect, but when I walked in it felt familiar. The desks were moved and there were a few new posters on the wall, but the comforting energy that I missed so much was still there.
The agenda was packed with everything from company milestones, team member highlights, market conditions and what’s to come for Homefiniti’s technology, and ONeil Interactive as a whole. Some people were taller than I expected, others shorter than they appear from the shoulders down. Regardless, the content and the company were invigorating for me. I hope it provided a rejuvenated spirit for everyone there. If not, I hope the catered lunch, snacks and homemade banana bread sweetened the deal. A company’s revenue growth may be an indicator of strength, but its culture is an indicator of purpose. We win, because we get to keep playing.
These regular in-office days have big shoes to fill, but the standard has been set. See you next time!