Navigating a Pandemic with the Support of Your Team

As the Account Director at Dotted Line, I have the privilege of being a champion for both our clients and our team. During these unprecedented times, that means listening often, checking in frequently on more than the status of work, and trying to offer support at the other end of a Zoom call. While there is no rulebook or YouTube tutorial for how to best navigate a global pandemic – believe me I’ve looked – what I’ve learned is sometimes the best guidance and solace comes from the support of your team.

While acknowledging the oddity of our situation, as a person who likes to have a plan, wading through these uncertain times is a wholly uncomfortable experience. As I often do in instances where the path feels a little shaky, I found myself turning to the experts and came across a Brené Brown podcast that really captured my emotional response to this experience in a way that only a nationally accredited author could; we are in what Brené calls a FFT (freaking first time). And during this wobbly FFT, we all need a collective reality check. We don’t know how to do this, we’ve never done it before and we’re not going to have all the answers. But we need to realize that is all right. Reconsider your expectations and rely on the support of your team to get through.

Even with this understanding, this pandemic is indiscriminate – it affects everyone personally and professionally. Like so many other organizations, Dotted Line is facing new challenges every day; adapting to new routines and schedules, juggling parenting and working from home, and trying to figure out if we have always looked this tired or if that is just the camera adding bags under our Zoom-overloaded eyes. Things we previously took for granted, such as morning coffeeshop catch-ups, brainstorming sessions in the bullpen and popping by someone’s office for a quick question, are becoming magnifications of just how impactful those in-person touchpoints are and how severely they are missed in this “new normal.” But through the ebbs and flows of each day, the one constant thing that keeps pushing me to do more, both as a team member and a leader within our organization, has been the people I’m constantly cheering for and supporting – our team.

At Dotted Line, amidst all the uncertainty, we’ve continued to stay connected, add new motivational elements, build in surprises for our team with kind gestures, and push to help our clients and community above and beyond the normal call of duty. While it was difficult to know exactly what to do or where to start, we just decided to trust that if we stayed committed to our mission – and to one another – we would emerge from this situation for the better. Below are a few efforts and gestures our team has made and the impact they have had on our business and culture:

  • Team Zoom calls that resulted in a brainstorm for a future Dotted Line Tik Tok, April Fools jokes to remind everyone not to take the day too seriously and the constant reminder that someone inevitably is still on mute when they start to talk.
    • Remember that the office banter and sidebar conversations that had you laughing for no reason can still happen! We’re proof of that.
  • Helping Celebrate RVA with a campaign to continue supporting their mission to give children a memorable birthday during uncertain times.
    • Recognizing that families and children will be affected in ways that those of us without children can’t even imagine. Being able to help an organization working to do good gave us all a smile.
  • Sharing personal COVID-19 wins and fails during an agency meeting – telling stories of learning how to do fractions, still trying to track down toilet paper and enjoying more time with family and neighbors.
    • It’s the vulnerability and honesty that signifies a human connection no matter how far apart we are.
  • Hosting a surprise birthday party for two team members by inviting everyone to a “fake meeting.”
    • Taking the time to celebrate one another and the milestones that continue to happen even while we’re apart.
  • Sending our team gift cards for Door Dash to help make family mealtime a little less stressful.
    • While we can’t eat together or try the new restaurant down the street, we can remember that mealtime should be shared and treasured and we can support local businesses that need it most, while we do it.

No one can say when this pandemic will be a thing of the past and what our world will look like when it is, but while we’re going through it together, we need to focus on how we can make the most of our opportunities as a unit. When approaching a crossroads or a difficult proposition, have faith in what got you to where you are and rely on the support of your team to get you through. If that’s the guiding principal and compass rose we are all using, more often than not, good things will come out of even the darkest of situations.