#SeparateButTandem: Collaborating During COVID-19

Insights / 2020.04.15

#SeparateButTandem: Collaborating During COVID-19


How Tandem Theory is navigating communication, collaboration, client service and staying sane


Ballpark guess: How many COVID-19 emails have you received at this point? 


By now you’ve been bombarded with dozens - perhaps even hundreds - of messages from the brands you interact with. How they’re here for you during this uncertain time. How they’re committed to putting you, their employees and their communities first. How “we’re in this together” and “health and safety are our highest priorities.” How they’re doing everything in their power to preserve continuity of business so that they can continue to serve you. From emails to social posts to website blurbs to app notifications, these communications are absolutely expected and necessary. 


Some are hopeful and inspiring: 

Watch how grocery store chain Aldi just came through in a BIG, BOLD way for its employees and customers.


Some are specific and immediately useful: 

Here’s our client TaxAct coming in clutch with a very timely 411 on stimulus checks.


Countless companies also have no choice but to deploy somber, apologetic messages:

We’re doing the best we can, please bear with us. 


To a large degree, we’re all in the same boat right now: doing what we must do. But after a month as a fully distributed team, we’ve discovered a whole host of unexpected can-dos and want-tos that we might never have encountered otherwise. And that’s what we want to share with you. 


If COVID-19 has done anything for us as an agency, it has compelled us to be more agile than ever, especially when it comes to staying connected. And we’re happy to report that…




We have a fresh appreciation for the privilege of collaborating with one another and our clients. Like you, like your customers, and like so many around the world, we’re working harder than ever, but we’re also more in touch with our humanity than ever. While we’re forced to work in separate locations, in many ways we’ve never been more unified...as long as we stay connected.


That’s the spirit of this, our latest COVID-19 dispatch. Starting this week, we’ll be taking you behind the Tandem Theory scenes to show you what’s working for us when it comes to working from home. Get started with these tips, then follow along at @TandemTheory. Spoiler alert: We STILL manage to enjoy ourselves on the daily.



Tip #1: Cultivate Your Virtual Culture

One of the first things we missed was randomly running into each other and chatting about everyday stuff - the new restaurant we just tried, the show we binged last weekend, an inspiring marketing campaign, or latest client update. Enter the 24/7 Employee Kitchen: A Google Hangouts meeting that’s always on our calendars and just a click away. We also dedicate Slack channels for Theorist shoutouts and trivia, and we definitely haven’t stopped holding happy hours - we just do it via Zoom now. Unexpected bonuses: No one has to drive home, and there are always multiple cute dogs and cats in attendance. Simply put, we’re better at our jobs when we have fun with our coworkers.


Tip #2: Lean On Collaboration Tools

We already had a great suite of tech tools and processes for managing our daily work. But in-person collab puts the “tandem” in Tandem Theory, and we definitely miss the conference rooms, white boards, or ability to simply walk over to someone’s desk. So we’ve been augmenting with new solutions and finding creative ways to use our existing platforms.


Here are our top picks for tools that enable collaboration while we’re still sheltering in place:

  • MURAL - A robust digital collab tool that’s the next best thing to a creative wall for a birds-eye view of designs and sharing swipe. Check out their weekly demo where real teams show how they use the platform to get things done.
  • Jamboard.google - A great whiteboard tool. Much leaner than MURAL, but it’s FREE, easy to figure out and native to the Google Suite we already use for many applications. 
  • Slack - While pretty much everybody has heard of Slack by now, not everybody knows about its call functionality. Having a group chat that could benefit from a quick “live” touchbase? Simply hit the phone icon to start a group call then and there, without having to juggle calendars.


Tip #3: Dedicate a Meeting-Free Day

Striking (and maintaining) the balance between collaboration and getting s*%& done is an art. To keep our teams on the same page and on deadline, we quickly felt the impact of the adage, “This meeting should have been an email.” We’re always learning, but identifying at least one day a week without pre-scheduled internal meetings is a step in the right direction.



That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more in the coming days and weeks. We can’t wait to show you how hard-working Theorists are navigating the new normal and, in some cases, working more effectively than ever. Like you, we’d still rather be in the office, but until that’s possible, we’re glad we can share our newest best practices with you, live from the Tandem Theory breakfast nooks, home offices and spare bedrooms. We also want to hear how you’re getting things done and staying (mostly) sane in the process. Tell us about your new favorite app or process - something you might never have discovered had we not been forced to work separately, but in tandem.