In our previous article, we discussed Brené Brown & Barrett Guille’s take on the new office dynamic in a podcast episode aptly named, The Great Awkward. We shared how the pandemic has affected the workforce, and how we are all hanging on two years later.
Today, we go over how we, at JCVA, have remained adaptable and resilient throughout this period—starting with how our headquarters was built to accommodate the evolving needs of the times and more recently, how our team management refreshed our people engagement program to help our guys overcome this awkward phase.
Jase and I started dreaming about our office space in May 2021. Yes, during the height of the pandemic. I was initially reluctant to commit to a physical space because A) PANDEMIC and B) our small back office team has been fine working from our homes. However, as our operations expanded, the need to grow our support team became inevitable… so is the need for space and a corporate home base.
We wanted a manageable office size in a low-density building and happily found it in Quezon City and most importantly, within our BIR RDO. As for the design, we worked closely with architect and designer, Paul Martinez, and tasked him to make it look fresh, slightly unorthodox, comfortable, and luxe. Paul presented us with Modern Classic, Biophilic and Modern Industrial theme options, with the last one edging the others out. This was later tweaked with mid-century modern and biophilic elements.
With our look and concept finalized, we got onto completing the details. Whoever said that love is in the details was spot on. We spent months trying to come up with the right look for our custom furniture, pinning down the correct shade of teal, and choosing the best fabric for our lounge sofas. These are just a few of the myriad decisions that were made in the process of achieving our dream office.
We also sought advice from a feng shui consultant to help us harmonize with the environment and maximize good energy inside the space. GOOD VIBES ONLY.
From spiritual and metaphysical, we move on to physical wellness and sustainability. Our office was made with LEED-certified materials, offers high-end ergonomic chairs and standing desks to our team, has wide windows that allow natural light in, uses LED lights for when we need them, houses live plants that are somehow surviving despite my black thumb, offers the convenience of a private bathroom with shower, and lastly, features a generous pantry where our guys can enjoy breaks with unlimited coffee and rice (IMPORTANT).
To address issues brought by the pandemic, JCVA HQ was outfitted with fresh air and exhaust ductworks, uses ACUs installed with Plasma Quad Connect Air Purifying devices, and is equipped with thermal sensors, disinfectant fogging machine, and OH radical, plasma and UV-C technologies. We made sure that our safety equipment is redundant to keep our people healthy within the office.
Finally, to allow us to thrive with a hybrid work arrangement, we rigged out our meeting rooms with tech for better teleconferencing experience.
JCVA HQ is an extension of our home and hopefully, it will serve as an extension of our team’s homes as well. More than serving its utilitarian purpose, our office is where we want to plant and grow our culture and connect with one another.
Leading a Hybrid Team
With our new headquarters came the challenge of having the team transition back to a physical office from a remote work setup. Like what Brené Brown and Barrett Guille discussed in the podcast, this phase is awkward. There is so much that people have to get used to—new and old—like work commutes, health protocols, and in-person interactions.
We have to deal with shifting to a hybrid setup while also building company culture and making sure people are committed to their work. An added layer to this challenge is making sure our geographically dispersed team members feel included and engaged without having to set foot in our HQ.
With all of these obstacles, the HR and Marketing & Engagement teams decided to relaunch our employee community thread, Heads Up.
In project sites, when you want to call people’s attention, you say “heads up!”. Like its name origin, Heads Up started as an internal communication project where company announcements were posted on Viber. We didn’t want to stop there. Our team was growing and we needed JCVA to be a workplace where everyone knew each other and had fun.
Through Heads Up, we created a space where our team could let their hair down, or in our case, let their hard hats down (ba dum dum) and get to know each other on a more personal level. It also helps us put the spotlight on the team and the individuals that make it while providing a great avenue for communication and collaboration.
Heads Up has transformed from a Viber thread to a full-blown team engagement program. Once it becomes safer, we plan on supplementing it with events like Friday night socials, outreach programs, and face-to-face team building activities.
These are the first strides we have taken towards embracing a hybrid work model and making the JCVA HQ the keystone to a strong company culture. We’re sure there are other things we have to navigate as we move forward but equipped with insights from industry leaders and wisdom from our own personal journey in the last two years, we are confident that we can turn awkward into awesome.
We can hurdle past this awkwardness with a bit of elbow grease, a lot of empathy, some compromise, and a boatload of understanding that we really have to make the workplace a little more human.