Six weeks. It’s been six weeks since PACO instituted a mandatory Work From Home policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been a harrowing period for everyone in the country and it’s far from over, at least here in Chicago. We’ve been fortunate in that we’re all safe and healthy, and we’re doing everything we can to remain so. With that in mind, let’s take a step back and look at how the agency has adjusted.
We’d barely had time to settle into our new office when we made the decision for everyone to work from home, and sometimes it seems more like six months ago than six weeks. As it happens, the process of moving in to our new office wound up having a tremendous (if unexpected) benefit for us: it gave us a trial run at how we’re working now. The entire agency worked remotely for the duration of November as construction wrapped up on our new home. There were some differences back then; most notably teams were still able to meet face to face at third spaces and restaurants. Still, we ironed out some of the wrinkles and that made the transition to remote working this time much smoother than it would have been.
We’re fortunate to have had that smoother transition, because the past few weeks have been some of the busiest in the history of the agency. We pride ourselves on being true partners to our clients, which means when they have to drop everything to respond to a crisis, we jump in with them and make sure the job gets done.
We also held our PACO Shuffle remotely for the first time ever. The Shuffle is crucial to our agency culture. For two days we bring the whole agency together – the finance folks, the admin staff, the IT guy, everybody – and harness the full power of the collective at select client challenges. It’s a test of our philosophy that good ideas can come from anywhere, and with the collective dispersed in our respective homes, we’re not ashamed to admit we were a bit anxious about it. We shouldn’t have worried; everyone stepped up in truly impressive fashion and the result was a set of spectacular concepts that we’re looking forward to developing further.
Of course it hasn’t just been a grind. Like everybody else these days, PACOs have adapted to social distancing in a wide variety of ways, starting with bi-weekly virtual lunches so we can still see each other’s’ faces. Painting, writing, exercise, a bit of extra drinking, and plenty more besides…we’re all coping with the circumstances in our own ways.
We are in unpredictable and frankly, scary times, but despite that we are proud of how PACO has adapted to the necessities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding a new “normal” isn’t just an issue for our current circumstances; we’ll have a lot of decisions to make as we move forward, so we expect to be checking in with you again in May and in the months beyond. In the meantime, stay tuned, stay safe – and if you’re in the mood, share your own experiences. We’d love to hear from you.