The culture at Arcadia is a huge part of who we are as a company. We’ve always been an energetic workplace, filled with passionate people who love what they do. When we all started working from home because of COVID-19, it was a big change. As the office manager, I wanted to find ways to keep us all feeling included, engaged, and excited about our work.
Even small gestures mean so much right now.
Most people come to work at Arcadia because they want to make a difference. Around the office, you could see that come through in different ways. We have composting and recycling programs. A number of employees would ride their bikes into work. We choose vendors that match our values. The chef-driven catering company that brought us weekly lunches, for example, HUNGRY, donates meals to people in need for each of our purchases (through them, we’ve donated more than 3,600 meals to date). And, of course, we’re not just employees of Arcadia; we’re all members, as well.
But take the physical office space and sense of community out of that equation and add in the stress of a pandemic and an endless stream of bad news, and I was left with a pretty big question: What can we do to lighten everybody’s spirits a little bit?
My mind went straight to food. When we were in the office, part of my responsibility was keeping the kitchen stocked, and everybody was used to snacking all day. And we’re not just talking bars, chips, fruit, and nuts. You could easily assemble breakfast and lunch in there. People were making avocado toast!
When it became clear that we’d be working from home for a while, I wanted to send everyone heartfelt care packages. So I talked to our kitchen vendor, and their team assembled snack boxes for everyone. I put a nice little note in there saying “We know this time has been stressful, but we appreciate everything that you do. We appreciate you,” and sent the boxes to all their homes. Our Slack channel blew up that day, as people chatted about what they got, what their favorites were (Oreo cookies, hands down), and even posted photos of their boxes. It was a reminder that even small gestures mean so much right now.
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So I continued to find ways to keep us all connected and to allow our new employees to meet people outside of their teams. We took a virtual cooking class where we made burgers and cocktails, and it was such a blast that I signed us up for two more: a plant-based cooking class and a pretzel-making class (because who doesn’t want more carbs right now?). Our regular catering company pivoted to offer meal delivery, so we hosted a remote lunch for our team and their families or roommates.
But of course it’s not all about food. We’ve also been focusing on wellbeing. I know I’m not alone in feeling a physical toll from the stress and time at home in front of a screen, so I organized some virtual classes for us to take. The first was Ergonomics 101, which taught us how to set up work-at-home stations with posture in mind, and the second was a class that shared advice on how to avoid burnout — something many of us have struggled with as our personal and professional lives merge. We’ve also done stretching sessions together, and we have a yoga class coming up. Oh, and I had PPE boxes sent to all of our employees, complete with an Arcadia-branded face mask. That was a big hit, too.
I used to think that culture revolved around an office, but I know now it’s much bigger than that.
Looking back on the last few months and all that we’ve gone through together, I feel a deep sense of pride. I’m proud of our business leaders, who have put our health and safety first. They decided to make our operations remote two weeks before the government mandate came down, and they have continued to put employees first. When the Black Lives Matter protests happened, they immediately put out a statement and scheduled a call to address it right then and there, telling us if we needed time off or wanted to go protest, we could do that. It means the world that they don’t sit when things happen. They address them right away with the team, and that shows they value all of us.
Their leadership inspires me to do whatever I can to make a difference, even if it’s just little things, like sending snack boxes and signing us up for virtual classes. I know, right now, that we all miss seeing one another in person. But we also know we’re doing the right thing by working from home until it’s safe to go back. And as long as we’re working remotely, I’ve assured everyone that there are still plenty of things to look forward to. Game nights, wine tastings, paint-and-sips. I even heard recently that now virtual BINGO is a thing.
Arcadia is a special place. I used to think that culture revolved around an office, but I know now it’s much bigger than that. And it’s up to us to keep it going.