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2020. A new year, a new decade, a new perspective. Nothing could stop us.

Enter COVID-19.

With co-workers spanning coast to coast, distance wasn’t necessarily new to us, but the idea of isolation was suddenly a concern. Lockdowns, home schooling, panic shopping — it was a lot. Navigating the unknown of early 2020 was a scary time, but I focused on pivoting my mindset early on to find the good.

From a personal standpoint, I no longer had to run out the door with my kids in the morning just to sprint back in at the end of the day to throw dinner on the table before bed. I was able to have my son read me books that I quite honestly didn’t even know he was capable of reading. I discovered my daughter is a fashionista in the making, drawing outfits freehand at the age of four.

At the home office, I made it my new goal to remove the distance and lift morale higher than it had ever been for my team. What started as weekly installments of trivia happy hours quickly evolved into curated events like craft beer and cheese tastings. We got to know everyone’s personal decorating style via Zoom tours of their homes as we jumped from meeting to meeting. We got to meet pets, kids and spouses that we typically had known only through stories and pictures. We had more meaningful one-on-ones without the distractions of other people in the office, allowing us to make even stronger connections than before. At every single level, I’ve never felt more on top of birthdays, birth announcements, house moves, and team wins.

When we asked everyone about the highlights of the past year, we noticed that one common theme emerged: the idea of connection. Here are some of their favorite moments, proving that you really don’t have to be together to be “together.”

Finding ways to make weekly status meetings more meaningful and fun. What we used to do robotically pre-pandemic now features silly moments like, “Which Garbage Pail Kid card goes with which teammate?” We also looked for ways to celebrate small team victories at a time when all we were hearing about was loss.

Mike Castelot

Virtual happy hours, bingo, trivia, magic shows — you name it, we did it.

Jill Brown

Getting to know our Alcone family in a whole new way. Meeting everyone’s kids, pets and significant others (virtually, of course) has been an amazing perk and really taken relationships to the next level.

Mel Schenk

Our pro bono work with Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School in New York City (WHEELS for short). We were no longer able to meet face to face, but we forged on and connected with these amazing 11th graders. We shared our professional insights and also took the time to hear and learn from them.

Cory DeWeese

Seeing how empowered and supported our team felt at our recap and year-end celebration was overwhelming and powerful. We have built something really special together, and during the stormiest of superstorm years, the foundation held strong.

Kelly Platt

Hands down, the agency dog parade. Someone mentions the term “virtual dog parade.” They send a meeting invite. You show up with more questions than answers like “What?” or “How?” or “Why?” But soon none of that matters as you’re carried off in a cloud of canine comedy. And you’re still laughing 9 months later.

Kevin Kleber