07/04/2020
Insight

The importance of rituals that keep us connected.

Now that we are fully WFH, we’ve worked hard to keep things normal in these not normal times. It was immediately obvious to us that we needed to keep hold of the rituals and habits that we have evolved in the studio and continue them in the new virtual world that we now (temporarily) live in. From keeping connected as a whole company on Monday mornings to daily register and champagne Wednesdays to Friday lunches. It’s all part of keeping the team motivated and to continue business as usual – albeit in an ‘always in beta’ way, where we learn and adapt to make things feel creatively inspiring and iron out any creases as we go.

Here are some of the rituals we continue to do, just virtually:

Champagne Wednesday
A tradition that started a few years ago. Champagne Wednesday continues in the virtual world, where we all gather to celebrate the good things happening at DixonBaxi. Drinks, this time are homebrew, but it’s a great time to spotlight projects, people, happenings for a positive mid-week catch-up.

MMM
Our Monday mornings start with the full team (in our 38 mini studios around London) on Google Hangout. After ‘how was your weekend’ (mostly at home), we get stuck into what’s coming up for the week. It’s a chance to reorientate and align on big video calls, key milestones, working sessions and an opportunity for everyone to regroup before the week begins.

Friday Lunch
We’ve had the ritual for a while now where we get various cuisines from around the world, supporting our local eating establishments, and all gather for lunch in the studio. We’ve transitioned to virtual Friday lunches where the usual studio lunchtime fund is divided across the team and Deliveroo helps everyone get fed. We jump on Google Hangout and eat together. It’s not quite the same, but it’s a great studio ritual that we love to keep hold of.

10 Minute Madness
We’re bringing these back now that we’ve settled into WFH. It’s a chance for a project team to get up on stage, in this case ‘share screen’, and talk the team through their work, thinking on a project and bring a new perspective to the company. 10 minutes focus the presentation and there’s definitely a bit of creative madness thrown in for good measure.

MURAL replaces the studio wall
We use the walls in our studio – a lot. They capture the ever-changing expression of a project narrative. Ebbing and flowing as post-its become themes, ideas, images, language. A living organism everyone can share and be a part of. We have now turned to MURAL to do the same thing. It’s seamlessly become part of the first stage of ideation, grouping themes, images, video and more. All shareable, live and in the moment. And one thing we love is that it reduces paper use to zero.

Daily Register
It’s like being at school again! Well actually, it’s a brilliant way to kick start every day creating a much-needed rhythm to the week. Everyone meets virtually at 930am or just before. A little bit of chat and we take the register, making sure the team is all together, noting who is on holiday and generally aligning for the day. A bit of AOB and we’re set. It’s a simple, easy way to stay connected and see everyone, every day.

Seamless calls, both scheduled and spontaneous keep it feeling like the studio.

Project Spotlights
Our projects tend to be large scale and across many months. As such, we have project spotlights every Tuesday and Thursday. A project team share progress and our Creative Director, Head of Strategy, ECD, Head of Production and Project Lead can have a frank, open discussion about the work, challenges, opportunities and ways to continually elevate the project.

Client Daily and Weekly Check Ins
Staying close to our clients hasn’t changed. With clients in UK, Europe, US, and Asia we’re already used to crossing timezones, working through video and keeping fluidly connected through a daily and weekly cadence. Slack, Google Hangout, Zoom (not so much anymore), Microsoft Teams, Chime all help in instant communication and helping our clients stay ahead.

Short Meetings Are In
For some reason, time has become even more precious. And with so many more video calls needed rather than easily catching up in the studio, we’re making meetings shorter, more precise, with clear agendas, a chairperson and simple objectives so everyone leaves knowing what they need to do. You could argue it’s benchmark meeting etiquette, but either way we’ll take this and other learnings with us when we get back to the studio.

Friday Drinks
With everyone staying at home, we like to gather at the end of the week for drinks and a catch up on the week and what’s planned for the weekend. A time to relax and wonder at these strange and unusual times.

What’s Happening Update
A more regular update from Simon and Aporva happens every Friday morning giving the team insight into the business, what we’re focussing on, how things are developing, and generally being open and transparent in an ‘always in beta’ environment.

What have we learned?
That keeping habits, behaviors, and rituals we’ve built over time in the studio are highly valuable in maintaining a sense of rhythm, continuity, and solidity for the team as we work remotely. All the while adapting and learning new ways of working that we’ll take with us when we head back to the studio. Even in uncertain times, there’s the opportunity to look ahead and revitalise the business making it stronger and more adaptive.

Technology becomes invisible, but we can’t underestimate the power it gives us.