At Brandpoint, we had been a mostly office-based operation before the pandemic hit. Our CEO likes the energy and buzz of the workplace and values the in-person collaboration that can happen there. So, when the world went on lockdown in March 2020, and suddenly we were all working remotely from our home offices, kitchen tables, basements, or wherever we could set up our computers, it was a seismic shift.
We all got on with “business as unusual” the best we could, and our company survived and even thrived during that unprecedented time. Here’s how we did it.
Unwavering support from the top
The support of Brandpoint’s leadership team was the key to it all. There were no layoffs, no furloughs. We all kept our jobs, and we even hired new staff during that period. Along with the job security we all felt, employees knew our health (physical and mental) and safety were Brandpoint’s first priority. Period. Teams kept lines of communication open with instant messaging, email and video meetings. Leadership trusted everyone to do their jobs. Because of that support, our office-based operation didn’t miss a beat when we went remote.
Here’s an account from a senior writer of how that support looked in practice.
“For me, it all started as I helped my son transition to distance learning while juggling work,” she said. “That disrupted my workday almost immediately. There were a few days when he wasn’t coping well. Because yanking kids out of school with no warning can mess with their equilibrium. Not only that, a bunch of stuff he was looking forward to was also canceled out of the blue. As much as I hoped he would simply sit down and power through his stuff so I could be a stellar employee, he needed an outlet for his emotions. He needed his adults. There were a few times when I had to cede the morning, even the day, so I could listen, talk things through, troubleshoot, keep him on track. I can’t tell you how many interruptions I faced.”
Her boss provided a sympathetic ear and helped her restructure her schedule so she could stay on track with her deliverables and help her son through that time.
“That kind of support comes from the top,” she said. “It’s as simple as that. Management recognized early on that we’re all going through a lot and decided to be supportive. I know others faced even greater threats and obstacles. The support we got from Brandpoint matters a lot, and I’ll remember it.”
For Minneapolis, it wasn’t just the pandemic. It was also George Floyd.
Brandpoint is based in the Twin Cities, and while everyone in the country, and even the world, was affected by the May 2020 murder of George Floyd and the racial reckoning that followed, to us, this was hometown personal.
I live less than two miles from where former police officer Derek Chauvin took George Floyd’s life. I had driven through that very intersection hours before it occurred. Several Brandpointers also live in this area. It is one of the loveliest parts of Minneapolis. The heartbreak of what had happened there was almost too much for us to endure.
And when riots broke out, city blocks were in flames, stores were broken into and looted, and chaos erupted on the streets. The country watched in horror. But that was our neighborhood. Our home.
Our CEO, in conjunction with HR, sent the staff a message of support, offering resources for mental health counseling if we needed it, no questions asked. They specifically asked those of us who lived in the neighborhood if we felt safe. If we didn’t, they were prepared to put us up in hotels that were out of harm’s way. I cried when I read that email. The outrage, stress and sadness we all felt during that time was incredibly difficult, and knowing our company had our backs was invaluable.
They did the same during the Derek Chauvin trial a year later, when the nightly unrest began happening again and the National Guard was called in to stop the violence.
Here’s what one of our senior editors, who lives in the neighborhood, said about that time.
“Brandpoint offered to pay for a hotel when the uprising reached my neighborhood — a gesture that meant so much when everything felt like it was falling apart. I ended up staying with another Brandpointer and her wife for a week instead; having coworkers-turned-beautiful-friends who would offer their home like that was absolutely priceless.”
That unwavering support from our company during an unprecedented time of upheaval and danger, whether it was from an invisible killer virus or chaos in the streets, has created an incredibly loyal staff. We always knew Brandpoint was a great place to work. Now we know what this company does when the chips are down.