While many of us struggled through another long day of working from home and dull daily Zoom meetings, one ACT employer was beating the lockdown blues by staging a massive line-up of virtual events and activities to keep staff motivated, entertained and connected.
Once the office doors closed, a whole new world of opportunity opened up for the team at Independent Property Group, and their kids, partners and pets got into the action as well.
Whether it was whipping up a stunning strawberry parfait in a MasterChef-style cook-off, beating the boss at a virtual poker night, or being inspired by one of many amazing guest speakers, the company’s staff across Canberra made the most of a difficult time.
Independent’s newest recruit, general manager of property management David Skow, started his role during COVID-19 lockdown. He says that while he didn’t meet his team in person until just recently, the lockdown capers gave him a chance to get to know them on a deeper level.
“As a newcomer into the business, I was a bit apprehensive about starting a senior management position during lockdown, but I’m amazed how well Independent has used the time, not for doom and gloom, but to have a lot of fun,” he says.
“We probably learnt things we would never have uncovered about each other, and it was a great opportunity to build strong relationships.”
The ‘Independent Together Program’ included a series of professional speakers such as former Hockeyroos player and Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Louise Dobson OAM; Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart; burns survivor and author Turia Pitt; and Sam Bloom, two-time para surfing world champion, bestselling author and the inspiration behind hit film Penguin Bloom.
Louise says the program has been an integral way for the Independent team to connect during a challenging time.
“I know a lot of work and thought went into developing the program to offer a wide variety of speakers who staff could virtually tap into during the lockdown period,” she says.
“I think it is very easy for people to start to feel isolated in these circumstances, and they [Independent] have done a great job at keeping this to a minimum.”
The focus of Louise’s presentation was the importance of keeping things simple during difficult times, staying on task and playing to win.
“We spoke a lot about my career with the Hockeyroos and the triumphs and setbacks I experienced, and how I came back stronger than ever from some of those significant moments.”
David says he quickly bonded with his property management peers, with the team “coming out on top” in many of the online competitions.
“As real estate practitioners, we’ve got that inherent competitive spirit and drive to win,” he laughs.
However, David still feels robbed that he didn’t win the strawberry-themed cooking competition that was aimed at helping farmers who are doing it tough, with some of the home chefs producing cheesecakes and parfaits worthy of the cover of Donna Hay magazine.
“The level of ingenuity was extreme,” he says.
“I thought my strawberry daiquiri was pretty good, and I still feel a bit dark that I didn’t win.”
The Independent property management, strata and sales teams enjoyed Zoom Friday night drinks – with a dress-up theme – with the addition of online poker, bingo and trivia for a few laughs.
Virtual Townhalls events were held for all staff ensuring the team heard key messages at the same time, as well as daily emails from CEO Kylie Dennis encouraging the team and keeping everyone abreast of legislation changes, internal competitions and other key announcements.
David has finally moved into his new office and, on reflection, says the ‘Independent Together Program’ was a positive experience and a “really good way to keep people engaged”, particularly junior staff who were still able to “shadow” their managers and continue their professional development.
“Culture is such a big part of the Independent brand so keeping up those culture-based activities when we couldn’t get together was really important for everyone,” he says.
Independent Property Group’s highly trained and experienced property professionals can help you with all your property needs.