Maintaining Culture (and distance) with Bright Buddies

Here at Bright Funds, helping people is what we are all about. Core to our DNA, we love to lend a hand, and assist people in finding causes they are passionate about, and do what we can to support their good intentions.

Like the rest of the world, the Bright Funds team is isolated in our homes, and working extremely hard to provide guidance to companies, donors, and nonprofits alike as they navigate this new normal. And also like everyone else, we are getting used to our new work environment. We went from daily in-person jokes and lunch walks, to happy hours via Zoom. I can say that we are getting pretty good at using Zoom, but there is no doubt that we miss each other, and the daily interactions we had.

As the person who manages and runs our company’s culture, one of the things I had to think about was “How do we stay connected to each other?” In addition to Zoom happy hours and encouraging the team to share photos of their workspace from home on Slack, there was something that was missing. Then, after joking about voodoo dolls to have in my workspace since I missed the team, and after hearing a team bonding story shared by my colleague David, it came to me.

I came up with the idea to send Barbie and Ken versions of the team to everyone, sort of like our version of Elf on a Shelf. I asked the team who would like to participate, and compiled my list of those who were interested.  I randomly assigned names to each person on the team to see which colleague they would get in the mail, and started my search. After scouring five Target locations over several days, I had the Bright Funds team assembled in Barbie and Ken form, and mailed them out. (Special shout out to Justin at FedEx for his help in packaging and filling in all my shipping slips!)

Now at this point, the team did not know what they signed up for, so of course I had to call a Zoom meeting to let them know what to expect in the coming days. When I shared with them what they would be receiving, and introduced the team to the Barbie version of my colleague and friend Aparna, it was great to see the excitement on their faces as they waited to receive their “colleague” in the mail.

Properly named “Bright Buddies”, we share photos of our buddies in our Slack channel. Everyone has been active with including “each other” on their daily routines and adventures. Whether it is playing in the snow in Colorado, hiking in the Bay Area, or just having a snack at home, we get a kick out of sharing photos with one another. While we cannot spend time together in person, our “Bright Buddies” allows us to maintain a connection with our teammates.

As a team we are grateful to be able to continue on our mission of helping our clients and their employees support the causes they care about. We are truly blessed to be able to continue to deliver on our mission but we do miss each other. We are looking forward to the day where we will be in the same space again. Until then we will continue to do the good that binds us and motivates us.

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