Here’s How It’s Poised to Make Our Company Culture Stronger Than Ever in 2023.
Athena is a different company than we were in March 2020. In many ways, the pandemic pushed us to be the organization we were always meant to be.
Like many companies, Athena is a much different kind of workplace than we were in March 2020. Fast forward nearly three years after the onset of the pandemic and our heightened focus on employee mental health and wellbeing is here to stay.
What’s also here to stay is Athena’s hybrid working environment.
Prior to the pandemic, our employees were in the office five days a week and had formed relationships with our company and their fellow coworkers. During the journey in transitioning to remote work during lockdown and hybrid post-pandemic, we wanted the team to still feel that they had this connection. One of the biggest priorities as we made this transition was keeping our culture intact.
We bridged the gap by focusing on creating even more meaningful opportunities to engage, like volunteer days and team outings to one-on-one leadership training. Many of these ideas came directly from the Athena team, who continue to share and define our reimagined employee experience.
Here are five ways that we elevated Athena’s company culture after going hybrid.
Keep the Company Connected
The first week Athena went remote we implemented a brief morning call which quickly transformed into a valued touchpoint that continues today. Our “virtual campfire” was held every morning so that each employee could hear important updates, see their coworkers, or have a little levity in the beginning of their day.
We have also been very intentional with our face time as a company. We now bring the whole company together twice a year for a mid-year and end-of-year All-Hands meeting. Its purpose is to look back at what we’ve accomplished, celebrate our successes, and look forward to what is to come.
“Being hybrid has made us treat our in-person team time as special. What before would have been just a standard team or project check-in now brings an extra feel of camaraderie. Doughnuts for the morning project team meeting was not something I remember before we went hybrid!”
– Jose Alvarez
Invest in Learning and Development
Over the past two years, we’ve recognized that leadership and development training is extremely important to a culture and our employees. In fact, much of the programming we orchestrated in 2022 was a direct result of employee feedback.
We have started our DE&I journey for all employees, remote and in-person, to further drive the kind of culture we strive to retain at Athena. This will continue in 2023 and the years to come. We are working with Anita Powell, founder and CEO of Employee and Labor Relations Academy in Philadelphia, to create thoughtful programming around DE&I.
Our entire organization also participated in a DiSC assessment and training sessions in which we learned our individual working styles and how to work best with others who may have similar or different dispositions. This has been helpful with navigating client and peer-to-peer workplace interactions in a hybrid setting.
Athena is always committed to manager and leadership coaching and training and has invested in our management growth. Senior managers and above have access to one-on-one career counseling throughout the year.
We carve out time each month for dedicated teaching moments led by both the executive team and employees at every level. Our Athena Lunch and Learn series has focused on topics such as presentation pro tips, financial planning and more.
“As someone who recently entered the workforce, the DE&I training session with Anita Powell was an immensely rewarding experience for me. Learning about the ways to foster inclusivity in a corporate setting helped me become more conscious of not only my surroundings and how to navigate it as a woman of color, but also my own language and ways of interacting with others. The interactive nature of the session also allowed me to better learn and reflect from hearing the thoughtful questions raised by my teammates.”
– Rachel Yang
Find Opportunities to Give Back
Athena always wants to make the world a better place and it’s woven into everything we do, from the clients we work with to the organizations we support. Food insecurity is one cause that is especially close to our hearts. Through our work with the NFL, we have seen firsthand how food distribution programs, many run through schools, support kids and families. Post-pandemic, the need has only grown. The Athena team has volunteered with Philadelphia nonprofits like MANNA and the Food Share Program to prepare meals for those in need. Beyond food-insecurity organizations, we have also hosted a diaper drive for Ukraine and annual holiday toy drives.
“As an employee, it’s important for me to work at a company that values giving back to the community we reside within. At AGA, we can participate in service, led by one of our affinity groups, throughout the entire year. We bring together our company at all levels to do something good and learn about another organization doing amazing work in our backyard of Philly.”
– Madiah Gant
Trust in Teams
We have leaned into employee-led engagements, starting an employee-run group called the Assembly which contributes heavily to culture and community at Athena. The committee creates events and opportunities for team members to be involved and get together outside of our normal working environment. Many of these ideas led to after-work company outings like ice skating at Dilworth Park, haunted happy hour at Eastern State Penitentiary and a summer kickball league. Our “Athena Night at the Phillies” kicked off with a tailgate and tickets to the game. Athena also distributed budgets so that department leads can utilize funds to further engage their teams with more intimate get-togethers.
“The opportunity to be involved with Athena Assembly at such an early stage in my career has been incredible. It’s been awesome to work alongside my colleagues to weigh in about the things we care about and plan events and initiatives that bring together all the things that make Athena’s workplace so great.”
– Christina Cucinotta
Everyone Navigates Hybrid Differently—and That’s Okay
Throughout the pandemic, we found that employees work their best when empowered and trusted to manage their projects and schedules themselves. Armed with the latest technologies and tools, Athena’s support for a flexible hybrid schedule allows our teammates to make their own decisions, supporting a strong work-life balance for all stages of life.
For some, hybrid means spending most days in the office to escape roommates and other distractions at home. Ian Woodruff prefers to be in person almost every day.
“Having a comfortable and consistent environment to work in makes a world of a difference to my workday. I love the ability to focus our 15th Street office provides. I’m happy that Athena has embraced a modern work model while still providing an excellent in-person experience, especially as we navigate the post-pandemic world where human connection feels so valuable.”
For others, like new parents, hybrid means finding more balance between personal and professional demands. Christine Rudloff says that Athena’s hybrid work style contributes to her day to day in countless ways.
“I appreciate the flexibility to navigate my work schedule with my family’s schedule. I have a two-year-old son at home and being able to work from the office in the morning and then on some days take my afternoon meetings from home means I can make the most of my time with my son in the evenings.”
We know that what being hybrid means will continue to evolve. At Athena we’re committed to constantly challenging ourselves to strike the right balance.
“On March 12, 2020, I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to learn that sometimes evolution happens in a huge gush and not in small, often unnoticeable increments.”
Read more about how Athena CEO Maggy Wilkinson adopted a whole new mindset around hybrid work in a first-person note here.