Transparency, camaraderie and empathy. They’re three of our core values at Firehouse, and they’re also key ingredients to helping our team feel supported throughout the last 14 months. It’s not new news that there’s an “unprecedented” strain on our mental health right now, and at Firehouse, we’re not shying away from it.
Starting with our ownership, we’ve been candid with each other, sharing our struggles and mental health journeys. We want to tear down the stigma around seeking professional help for mental wellness. We’ve even taken that a step further, adding an additional mental health benefit for our employees—reimbursing them for two copays per month so they can get the help they need without the financial burden. Literally one less thing to worry about.
We’ve also made camaraderie a priority, holding fast to our long-standing traditions and encouraging face-to-face collaboration whenever possible. So we still gather (virtually) once a month at Champagne Thursday to toast hard work and jobs well-done. In a recent survey, agency fun and social interaction topped the list of things people miss the most about working in the office, so we’ve invested in recreating that camaraderie as much as possible. We’ve hosted holiday parties and baby showers. Held scavenger hunts and played Secret Santa. We’ve even gathered a time or two, socially distanced, just to see people from the waist down again.
As things begin to reopen, we’re crafting what our return to the office looks like with empathy. Readjustment to how things used to be can be just as jarring and stress-inducing as March 2020 was. Getting back into our old routines (and pants), even driving in traffic, can make your palms sweat. So, how do we strike the right balance of traditional, pre-pandemic collaboration with the flexibility we’ve all become accustomed to? For us, that looks like a new hybrid model of remote working on Mondays and Fridays and in-office hours Tuesday through Thursday. We’ve even adjusted our office hours so our day starts 30 minutes later, while keeping our day-end the same. We hope that building in this bit of flexibility will make that transition a little easier.