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Development in Distance: The Essence of a Participatory Approach in Enriching Campus Org Culture Online

Org Culture

Extracurricular activities in campus organizations assist aspiring youth leaders and future frontrunners of various industries in developing skills prior to their acquaintance with larger-scale workplace realities. Prior to the pandemic, different campus organizations instilled holistic formation in their organizational goals with ease and certainty. However, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges to these organizations, leaving them no option but to create adaptive measures to ensure the sustainability and viability of their culture and systems in the new setup.

A notable campus organization whose online presence has remained consistent in recent months is the Company of Ateneo Dancers (CADs). A recipient of the 2019 SOAR Model Organizations Award, as well as this year’s nominee for Most Outstanding Group for the Loyola Schools Awards for Leadership & Service, CADs is the premier dance production management organization of the Ateneo de Manila University. Home to around 200 members, CADs is driven towards meaningful artistry embodied in and manifested through its performing pool composed of street and contemporary dancers, and production staff with members skilled in house management, creatives, and technical direction. With its nature of being a youth-led, performance and production management organization, it remains no question that adjusting to the online setting and maintaining their brand of excellence in the new setup has been nothing short of difficult. Notwithstanding, CADs has exerted remarkable efforts in sustaining their bright, admirable, and colorful culture to ultimately let its members thrive amidst uncharted waters.

Reimagining projects apt for the online setup

CADs’ core teams for projects such as Wrap Up Vol. XI, Let’s Get PhysiCADs, and Behind the Movement had to reimagine these projects with consideration of online limitations such as poor internet connectivity and implemented safety protocols. Although implementing projects online seemed to be an ambitious endeavor at first, the core team members’ skills were eventually challenged and honed throughout preparations, evoking innovative, promising, and sustainable plans and ideas for CADs’ future use.

Redesigning rewards systems for members

Part of CADs’ culture is its many rewards for members to make them more active and engaged. Explained briefly, CADs’ rewards systems include workshops for both the performing pool and production staff; online synchronous and asynchronous training for performers; online team building; online privilege card; informal member recognition systems; and financial compensation for the production staff members’ services. Through these online incentives, not only are members made more motivated; members who are behind these redesigned systems have been given the opportunity to think of new and even improved channels for member motivation.

Restructuring member wellness activities

Every semester, members are invited to participate in Individual Consultations headed by CADs’ Human Resources arm, or the Internals Department. This provides the members a safe space for voicing out their concerns that the Internals Officers may assist and support them with. Through such open and safe space, members are able to participate in the improvement of the organization through providing input regarding their own recommendations for any org-related issues they would like to be addressed.

Evidently, CADs has provided avenues for member growth through its different adaptive initiatives that strike a balance between equipping members with relevant skills for their own development, and further enriching CADs’ culture online. While their brand of excellence remains compromised given the pandemic, the intricacy of the entire situation has made its members think more critically on establishing creative solutions for the benefit of the whole organization. Simply put, CADs culture thrives for people, and through people. Such openness to new ideas for creativity and innovation arising from the members themselves is then indicative of an important value that active, professional organizations in this setup must now instill into their own culture — member growth & development through member input & innovation.