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DCG: A Virtual Company, a Connected Culture

Though DCG is a virtual company, with teammates located across the United States and even in a few other countries, our culture is very personal.

There are many opportunities to get together virtually throughout the year―biweekly staff meetings, an annual retreat, town hall meetings―and even times when we can come together in person. Recently, our connected team culture was on full display with four events held across the country and a special meetup in Iowa.

First, the creative team joined up in Washington, D.C., for a team-building retreat. Over the holidays, DCGers had a blast with IRL celebrations in Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Raleigh, N.C. And in Des Moines, Iowa, Sydney Anderson met neighbor and new DCGer Megan McDowell at a “Welcome to DCG” happy hour.

Below, DCGers share details and pics from each event:

Virtual Team + In-Person Retreat = Creativity, Energy, Connection

By Kristen Kropf

DCG’s entire Creative Department of 20 people (we’ve grown since then!) — including art directors, graphic designers, and traffic coordinators — all got together for an in-person retreat for the first time since 2020, when DCG pivoted to being fully remote and hiring across the U.S.

Blond woman bending over a registration table writing on a post it note to add to the list of papers on the table

Can you get more non-virtual than writing on Post-it notes?!

We’ve gone through much change and growth in the past couple years. Since I started at DCG in 2018, I’ve had the experience of seeing colleagues on a weekly basis at our former office space in downtown Washington, D.C., to having most team interactions through a computer screen.

That is, until we put the video calls aside and left behind kiddos, pets, and the comforts of home to get together in D.C. for our retreat, which we named the Creative Super Happy Fun Retreat (or CSHFR — we do appreciate an acronym in the government contracting world!). And since we’re creatives, we had to have event branding, which was designed by our very own talented graphic designer Brock Fahringer. Found on swag and retreat materials, the branding helped set the tone for our time together.

A picture of a powerpoint slide projected on a screen saying Creative Super Happy Fun Retreat

CSHFR welcome video

Even amid flight issues and flat tires, nothing could stop us from getting together for our 48-hour whirlwind in the nation’s capital. We had team members fly in from all over the country — from Detroit, Des Moines, and Chicago. Some drove down from Pennsylvania and others up from North Carolina. A handful of locals from Virginia and Maryland made their way into the city while we even had a D.C. resident simply take an Uber to the festivities. DCG really is a company that feels like family — especially within the Creative Department — and the retreat had first-time greetings that were filled with such excitement, like going straight in for hugs rather than formal handshakes.

A man with brown hair, glasses and beard smiling next to a woman with long blond hair with a big smile on her face

Finally meeting my direct report Brock in real life! He flew in from Cleveland, Ohio.

Geographic locations aside, we have quite the diverse group of creatives from various backgrounds. That said, we all truly unite in our mission for producing excellent work. This gathering was important to help nurture our creative spirits and foster the sense of belonging.

We managed to pack a lot into our limited time together. One of the highlights was creative immersion together on our first day at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which included group passes (which I was able to score from my neighbor who works there!) to world-renowned artist Yayoi Kusama’s One With Eternity exhibition. Kusama’s famed Mirror Rooms were an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Viewers are allowed only 30 seconds inside each mirror room. I had the pleasure of sharing that experience with my teammates Allison Weinstock and Alyssa Hitchcock. We were literally inside of a box―a room with mirrors on every wall―but, my, how one’s mind makes you want to think outside of the box in an art exhibit like that!

Three woman wearing black dresses looking into a mirror and reflecting them standing in the middle of a creative art exhibit depicting white and red spotted balloons all over the floor

Allison, Alyssa, and me taking the most epic selfie ever in one of Kusama’s Mirror Rooms

Mirror room immersion art exhibit depicting brightly colored dots in various colors in a dark room

More Mirror Room immersion

We kicked off our second morning together with a two-hour team-building session, facilitated by my friend and former colleague Marc D. Shapiro and featuring an interactive exercise focusing on communication styles and personality preferences. It was a quality session with thought-provoking results. Team members shared how it was helpful to learn everyone’s personality type and how that fits into our work environment.

Other highlights from the retreat included Passion Project presentations by team members, a creative brainstorm exercise, free time to tour and visit various art galleries, and multiple team gatherings at The Dubliner restaurant where meals and laughs were shared. And still, with all the social and team-building activities on the schedule, we managed to stay on top of our client deliverables.

For being our first retreat of this kind, it certainly set the bar for future gatherings. It was a fruitful experience that we still affectionately talk about. I had the pleasure of being reunited in-person with a handful of folks at our D.C. holiday party (more info and pics below) and look forward to seeing everyone from the team again at some point!

DCG’s Holiday Gatherings

A group of employees holding drinks at happy hour and crouched together for a photo

Washington, D.C.: DCGers from the DMV area, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Florida came together at Zaytinya to celebrate the holiday season. After great food and sangria, partygoers went home with cookie bags.

Three middle aged woman at a table in a restaurant giving their drinks a cheers looking at the camera and smiling

Pittsburgh, Pa.: Kristi Sciullo, Megan Wojcik, and Kelly Ehasz gathered for a lovely dinner at the Grand Concourse restaurant, a former train station that boasts cathedral stained-glass vaulted ceilings, marble columns, and a dramatic staircase.

A group of 11 people posing in front of a decorated Christmas tree at a bowling alley

Raleigh, N.C.: DCGers from all over―Charlotte, Dallas, Richmond, Raleigh, and more―came together at Kings Dining & Entertainment for a fun and friendly “Bowling Day Out.” DCGers spanned multiple accounts, so some who work together daily met and mingled for the first time in person, and others chatted over wings and nachos about their families and hobbies outside work.

A brown haired woman with a scarf and a blond woman wearing glasses holding their drinks in a cheers while sitting at a table and smiling at the camera

Iowa Meetup

Iowans Sydney Anderson and Megan McDowell met up at Alba, an upscale restaurant and wine bar in Des Moines’ East Village.

DCG: A Virtual Company, a Connected Culture was originally published in DCG Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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