Every evening at 6.30 pm, it’s Cocktail Time at Mirum India. Yes, you read it right.
For this ad agency with a team of over 2,500 digital savants, storytellers and creative professionals, this is a way to maintain a work-home balance during the current work-from- home scenario. Mirum India calls itself a borderless advertising agency, and is a part of Wunderman Thompson and the WPP Network.
The agency organises an online townhall every evening on weekdays, where everyone logs in virtually for an entertaining session of Standup comedy, or a music performance, or a round of quiz, or even a game of housie. And the star performers during the Cocktail Time are Mirum team-members themselves.
“The Cocktail Time helps team members mark the end-of-the-day and also switch off from work, and get into a fun mood,” says Hareesh Tibrewala, joint CEO, Mirum India.
The agency believes that it was normal for people to relax and chill with their friends after a hectic day at work. So why should it be any different now?
The evening cocktail is just one of the activities that the agency has initiated to engage with its employees amidst the lockdown. Another programme it organises is called Speed Dating.
It started as a pilot session to promote cross-team building on the lines of Speed Dating, where six people from different departments would meet virtually and get to know each other. The programme became so popular within the team that the agency now has to organise two to three sessions every day.
The Cocktail Time helps team members mark the end-of-the-day and also switch off from work, and get into a fun mood
“A company is not just a group of people performing a commercial activity. It also means mutual collaboration; socialising with colleagues and water-cooler gossip. While remote working with access to e-mails or Zooms, ensures that work is getting done, the most important aspect is to be able to replicate the office ‘spirit’ amongst the team so that everyone continues to feel like a part of one big family,” opines Tibrewala.
Apart from the fun activities, Mirum is all set to launch the ‘Mirum Pathshala’, a new module, this week. Through this initiative, the team members will share their work knowledge with other team members.
“We will have someone who will be teaching ‘how to edit a video’, and someone will talk on chatbots. The idea of these sessions is to spread knowledge across the entire team and create opportunities for people to engage with one another,” says Tibrewala.
Mirum is aware of the fact that ‘work from home’ as a lifestyle is new to all. Right from the relevant IT infrastructure to having a dedicated workspace at home, the challenges are many. In such a scenario, it‘s the job of the company to facilitate this transition and make it as smooth as possible. “We have moved all HR processes online to ensure that employees do not face challenges with claims and reimbursements. Our IT support contacts each employee regularly to check if the IT infrastructure is working fine. One of the employees was finding his home chair uncomfortable, and we delivered his office chair to his house,” shares Tibrewala.
During the lockdown, when most people working from home feel alienated, it’s very important to celebrate all achievements, however big or small, and that makes everyone happy. As a rule, at Mirum, every achievement of a team member — whether it’s a client appreciation or delivery of a great creative — is celebrated.
“A few days back we celebrated #Mirum #KindHearts to laud team members who are doing their bit for the larger society, for instance, someone who provides food to the policeman, or someone who delivers medicines to the homes of the aged, or yet another who is out on the road each night, feeding stray dogs and cats.”
Tibrewala shares that these employee-engagement programmess are not just one-off activities. These are structured, and well thought out long-term programmes.
It’s true that the lockdown has brought the country to a standstill. Most of the essential services are not available. Many employees are juggling multiple chores— from household work, cooking, to performing daycare duties. At this hour, it’s important to empathise with them and embrace this new reality. As Tibrewala says, “We have to be flexible with our rules.”