Working Together While We All Have to Work Apart
Three members of our Ceisler Media digital team were hired just before or during the pandemic. They’ve done terrific work together—even though they’ve not yet actually, well, worked together under the same roof.
The three are:
Krystal Bonner: Vice President, Digital & Creative Services, Philadelphia
Julia Wolf: Creative Manager, Philadelphia
Sharky Thomas: Digital Associate, Philadelphia
Last week, they met face-to-face for the first time at a Ceisler Media happy hour. Soon after, they exchanged emails to create this report on building a team—and good camaraderie—even while working separately.
Sharky: Hi guys, it was so nice meeting you yesterday. I can’t believe it took four months of me being at Ceisler Media to meet you in person.
Julia: It was so nice to see everyone in person outside of a work setting. It was especially great meeting you, Sharky. When you finally meet someone who you’ve only known virtually, it breaks down the digital barrier and allows you to communicate in a unique way.
Sharky: I Completely agree! It was really nice just talking to you about normal things.
Sharky: I’m not going to lie—I had gotten so used to living life in our meetings over Microsoft Teams. I honestly forgot how nice it was to be around people 🤦🤣
Krystal: Haha. It was great to finally meet everyone in person. Everyone was so smiley. I feel like we all were just excited to be together.
Sharky: You're so right everyone was really smiley and happy, my face hurt when I got home.
Krystal: This was the first time I was having longer conversations that were not work-related with some folks. It's like we have worked together for over a year, but I am still getting to know them.
Sharky: Yeah, I'm looking forward to working in the office for the first time. We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Sharky: Julia you onboarded in person. That must feel like a lifetime ago. What was that like?
Julia: You’re right. It really does feel like a lifetime ago. Onboarding in person was great because I got the opportunity to meet with almost everyone in person, sit in on meetings and get to know my colleagues over coffee. I specifically remember (Account Executive) David Huppert doing impressions of Larry Ceisler during our lunch break.
Julia: I think back to having my “welcome lunch” from Pietro’s and talking about hiring Krystal, who would become our new boss. Everyone was excited and happy about the growth of the company and what the future looked like. It wasn’t long after that that the conversation switched to COVID and we started wiping everything down with Clorox wipes and constantly washing hands. It really makes you appreciate those in-person moments.
Krystal: I would pay money to see David do impressions of Larry! 🤣
Sharky: What was it like for you Krystal -- onboarding and setting up a new department
virtually at the same time?
Krystal: The company had only been officially working remotely for one day, so there were processes they were working on ironing out, like Zoom access. I was nervous about starting remotely and not getting to develop relationships in person, but everyone was so welcoming. And, I must say, the digital team adapted very well to remote work since so much of our work revolves around technology.
Krystal: It helped I was starting at the same time as two other new employees, Shannon McLaughlin and Alison Burdo, so we all could relate to the experience. I remember it being a weird time for all of us at the firm, though. The news about COVID was scary, and everyone was wondering how long we would be working remotely. I don’t think anyone guessed it would be well over a year.
Julia: Yeah, it was crazy. We were all worried about layoffs but little did we know the company would just keep expanding.
Krystal: Yeah, we’ve hired six new employees since March 2020, myself included.
Sharky: The Digital industry really has exploded during COVID; I was honestly quite impressed how quickly people adapted to virtual hangouts, working and events.
Julia: I agree.
Krystal: Sharky, I know I was involved, but how was your onboarding process from your perspective?
Sharky: Mine was interesting but really seamless, I was actually in South Africa, staying with family when I started my interview process in December, which was cool because I got to celebrate the job offer with my family. My first official day was sometime close to the end of January.
Sharky: I was so impressed by how smooth everything was. Everyone was extremely helpful, especially Krystal and Melissa Sherman Kozlowski. You guys made me feel like I had all the tools and support I needed to get started with Ceisler. It was also nice that people made the effort to reach out over Microsoft Teams and get to know me and my background.
Sharky: But I will admit showing up for my first day of work in my lounge, was definitely weird. It’s all been weird but having a job I look forward to really makes everything going on in the world a little bit less stressful.
Krystal: Yes, this whole experience has been crazy, and I want to remind you both: It's important to take breaks throughout the day to recharge. I try to take a break to walk my dog and just get some air.
Julia: Over quarantine, I have found peace of mind in exercising. I joined a local gym that offers a women’s strength class, and I’ve felt so much better physically and mentally since I started. It’s exactly what I need after being home all day.
Sharky: I’ve been going for walks around the city, listening to my 90s playlists I made years ago, people watching and I recently started playing squash at a club, which has been really fun.
Julia: I'm not going to lie – working on video projects, especially with community outreach organizations, has made this whole COVID work-from-home experience more worthwhile. Do you guys have any clients you feel have made working from home more purposeful?
Krystal: For sure, some of the pro bono work we have done has been especially meaningful. Soon after I started, we began doing social media support for the PHL COVID-19 Fund.
Sharky: That’s really cool. For me, it’s been working with our client who works with child victims of sexual assault. Seeing how they approach and treat their survivors in a revolutionary way has been great.
Krystal: Keep up the good work. I’m looking forward to spending more time with you guys in person when we have our hybrid work plan solidified.
Julia: Can’t wait!