One day every quarter, we close the office so the whole agency can spend time together through hands-on learning opportunities designed to help us create, connect, refresh, give back and thrive. We call them Creative Academy days. It might seem counter-intuitive, but taking this short break only makes our work, and working relationships, stronger.
For our second-ever Creative Academy day, we started at the E&S office with an iPhone photography course taught by professional instructor Khara Plicanic. In two hours, we learned basic tips and tricks for capturing better photos, plus the best tools and techniques for editing and sharing. For those of us who don’t deal with design or artistic aspects of our work on a daily basis, Khara’s class was a good exercise in seeing the world around us in a new way.
After photography class, we took a break—a few hours in the middle of the day to use however we wanted. Some used the time to run errands they normally couldn’t during the work week, others banded together and headed out for tacos. Having some time that was completely open gave us the opportunity to spend time with team members we normally wouldn’t.
We reconvened at Stephen Center, a local shelter working to fight homelessness and ease addiction recovery. With everyone in our agency helping out, we were able to effectively double their staff for the day. At the shelter, we split into groups within their Pettigrew Emergency Shelter to clean the kitchen, organize the family shelter units, sort through donated supplies and tidy up the outside of the property.
At the end of the day, we came together to reflect on what we learned that day. All in all, everyone appreciated being able to give back as a team and learn about another great organization that’s making a difference in our community. That outlook is engrained in our culture, but it’s easy to lose sight of in the day-to-day grind.
Taking a few hours once per quarter may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but it sometimes it’s all you need to connect on a deeper level with your company’s mission and with the people you see every day. It’s all part of the E&S purpose to Create Things That Matter.