A Thriving Company Culture, Makes Remote Working, Work

SB Architects is fueled by our people, and over the last 60 years, we’ve created a studio culture that we’re incredibly proud of. How do you maintain that same company culture during lockdown? We put our thinking caps on and brainstormed ways to replicate our usual initiatives, virtually.

“The current situation has done a great job of uniting our two main offices, Miami and San Francisco. It’s all hands on deck with our current projects, and that, combined with the all-office meetings/happy hours, has created a spirit of comradery, which can be felt throughout the team.” Scott Lee, President, SB Architects

We’re counting down the days until we can sit across from each other in the office and stand patiently by the coffee machine as it gears up for the day, but as we enter our ninth week of lockdown, we wanted to share what we have been doing to keep communication and spirits high.

Virtual Happy Hour

As we are all aware, ‘business as usual’ has been redefined, but we wanted to find a way to keep our bi-weekly office happy hours going. Every second Friday of the month, we host a global happy hour to connect all of our studios to check-in, share news, and generally just say hello.

We recently hosted a series of breakout rooms to brainstorm on various design topics which reinforced our collaborative nature and inspired new ideas!


From a leadership point of view, we’ve done everything we can to keep communication strong and open. We’re a close-knit team, and one of the main reasons is our push for transparency and honesty. As they say, knowledge is power; the more we know the better prepared we can be to tackle problems head-on.

All Office Survey

We conducted an all-office survey to check-in and gauge not only how our team was feeling, but what else we could be doing as a firm to make this transition to working from home easier. The answers were fantastic and helped us direct our efforts.

Virtual SB FIT

Cabin fever can creep up during the lockdown, so we needed to find a way to give our team a break and a reminder to step away from their desks and get moving. Health and wellness are a huge part of our culture and we wanted to make sure we continued with our usual order or service during lockdown.

One of our designers, and resident fitness guru, Paula Villarraga, has been hosting her usual SB Fit sessions over Zoom for our global team, and we have weekly zoom Fitness and Yoga sessions run by our regular teachers, Kelsey and Jack.

Step Competition

We launched a step competition in June last year as part of our wellness initiative, ‘Global Wellness Month’, and it turned out to be a crowd-pleaser, creating some friendly competition amongst the team. With our usual movements on hold, this felt like the perfect time to launch our second, annual (socially distanced) step competition.

Cup of Joe

For the early birds on our team, our Miami office has set up a 10-15 minute, 7am morning coffee break dubbed ‘Cup of Joe’. It’s relaxed – the work chat is kept to a minimum and general life updates, beard watch and Netflix recommendations are the order of the day. Plus, honorary SB team member, Donovan the Aussie regularly makes an appearance…

Cafecito Time

The daily 2pm Cafecito is a staple in both the Miami and San Francisco offices, so we set up a daily Zoom to keep the tradition alive and kicking.

Internal Newsletter

What better way to keep our staff connected then to kick-off our bi-weekly internal newsletter? With everyone working from their own little worlds, we wanted a way to keep our communication ten-fold, whilst also providing a dose of sunshine and inspiration during the grey.

The newsletter covers project updates, office updates, positive news, and media coverage; and we share lists of podcasts and webinars, books to read, recipes to try, and shows to watch, all submitted by our team. We will let you behind the scenes over the next few weeks in case you are also in need of a flash of fun.

Daily Musings

Our office manager, Melody, has been asking daily questions, which may seem simple, but it’s a super-effective way to get people chatting. With no passing conversations, or coffee making chat, light, positive interactions are things that can easily disappear. On that note, what fictional world or place would you like to visit?

As the world begins to emerge and we begin to head back into the office, we are going to take some of these new initiatives with us. As a firm, we’ve never taken our foot off the gas or rested on our laurels and we will continue to inspire, innovate, and seize all opportunities to keep our company culture thriving.

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