Human-First Culture: People Are the Center of the 3Play Media Universe

The future of video accessibility calls for a human touch. Built In sat down with three team members from 3Play Media to discuss how the media accessibility platform values humans above all — from its customer experience to company culture.

Written by Jenny Lyons-Cunha
Published on Sep. 29, 2023
 Human-First Culture: People Are the Center of the 3Play Media Universe
3Play
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As a company with ambitions of future-proofing video and media accessibility, 3Play Media is anchored in the liminal space between two distinct worlds: human editing and AI technology.  

3Play Media deeply understands the value that human touch brings to the buzzing power of AI and machine learning — as evidenced in its singular accessibility platform. But there’s another vivid manifestation of the company’s people-first mindset: its culture. 

“I have never worked for a company that puts more effort into group activities, informational sessions and open forums that deeply embrace our colleagues and promote inclusivity in the workplace,” said Director of Client Success and New Services Phil Lahr. “3Play invests substantial effort in creating an inclusive company culture for all employees, regardless of their location, department or position.”   

Customer Marketing Specialist Jaclyn Lazzari sees this commitment reflected in the ample opportunities for meaningful discourse.

The access to people in leadership and management is crucial for a positive experience,” she said. “The one-on-one time I have with my manager is super valuable to me — it provides a dedicated time to raise any ideas and questions that are on my mind.” 

Communication isn’t capped at once a week, Lazzari emphasized. At 3Play Media, a collaborative mindset nurtures regular conversation. 

“Whether it’s a quick Slack message or a Zoom meeting, there are no barriers to reaching out, asking for help and sharing ideas,” she said. 

“Above all, we want our employees to feel heard, valued, and recognized for their unique contributions to the company’s growth and success,” said VP of HR Amy Dwyer. “We take all feedback and suggestions into consideration and we use the data and information to shape and grow our people programs and strategies.” 

This culture is bolstered by a perpetual hunger for improvement and agility. 

“We seek input from our employees via anonymous surveys or feedback, as well as one-on-one and small group conversations,” said Dwyer. “What we did yesterday or last year may not be the best course of action to move us forward.”
 

WHAT 3PLAY MEDIA DOES

3Play Media aims to make video accessibility easy. It provides closed captioning, live captioning, transcription, translation and audio description to customers across higher education, media and entertainment, enterprise and government.

 

‘It’s Awesome. It’s Empowering.’

Jaclyn Lazzari
Customer Marketing Specialist • 3Play Media

When Lazzari approaches the customer experience, she starts with the individual. 

“Of course, metrics are important and give us a scalable view into customer behavior as a whole, but it’s important to remember that each customer has an individual experience,” she said. “Our goal is to delight our customers, and that includes ensuring each one has the opportunity to voice their thoughts.”

It’s an approach that permeates all facets of life at 3Play Media, feeding a happy cycle of human-centricity. 

“A big part of facilitating a people-first culture is inviting employees into the conversation and providing opportunities to do so,” said Lazzari. “We hold regular company-wide meetings where we hear important company updates, address employee questions and concerns, and highlight the accomplishments of our people.” 

It’s an unfaltering tradition at the company. 

“In the five years that I’ve been here, I’ve seen leadership focus on the people of 3Play,” Lazzari emphasized. “3Play is a place where individuals and teams can watch their ideas come to life. It’s awesome; it’s empowering.”

 

LAZZARI DESCRIBES THE ‘3PLYMPICS’

“Every year, 3Play hosts a company-wide event called ‘3Plympics.’  It’s a day full of friendly competition where creatively-named teams compete in various field games like cornhole, Pictionary and scavenger hunts. This event is ingrained into our company culture — we’re coming up on our 11th annual event. I remember my first 3Plympics like it was yesterday. I was pretty new to the company and 3Plympics helped me to connect with others. It's a chance for all of us to get outside of the office and have a fun day together.”

 

‘The Heart of 3Play’

Phil Lahr
Director of Client Success and New Services • 3Play Media

Lahr perceives a rising trend in the media accessibility industry: automation for the sake of cutting costs. 

While 3Play uses industry-leading technology — much of which was built in-house — to improve processes, the platform has a beating heart. 

“The heart of what makes 3Play special is the artful combination of technology and human intervention to make content accessible to those that otherwise would not be able to fully experience it,” he said. 

When creating audio descriptions or captions, nuance is critical. When crafting vibrant descriptions of sound, capturing multi-speaker dialogue and reflecting each emotion calls for masterful attention to detail. 

“Centering passionate, articulate and creative people as the source of what we create separates us from much of our industry,” Lahr said. “Creating an environment where individuals can flourish is essential for us to be the company we are.”

Lahr employs an equally nuanced approach to the hiring process. 

“A favorite question of mine is to ask jobseekers about their passions outside of work,” he said. “Understanding what brings teammates joy will often illuminate their professional life and give insight into their strengths.”

 

LAHR’S TAKE ON 3PLAY’S ORIGIN STORY 

“I have a unique perspective, as the company I worked for was acquired by 3Play in February of 2022. Over the course of my career, I have been a part of several acquisitions with varying outcomes related to them. As you can guess, for myself and others in my group, there was apprehension about the future. I can say now that a year and a half later, all of the teams are truly embraced as being an important piece of the 3Play company and culture and we act as one organization.”

 

‘Roll-Up-Your-Sleeves Culture’

Amy Dwyer
VP of HR • 3Play Media

At 3Play Media, a human-first culture is foundational. 

“Our CEOs built the foundation for our culture, and it has evolved organically,” said Dwyer. “We have a roll-up-your-sleeves culture in which employees at all levels within the organization are encouraged to teach and learn from others.”

In a recent integration project, 3Plays Media’s co-CEO and co-founder, Chris Antunes, worked alongside the engineering team to code, assist and otherwise keep the project moving forward, recounted Dwyer.

 

DWYER DESCRIBES 3PLAY’S PURPOSEFUL WORKING MODEL

Our people are the drivers of our organizational success. Understanding their needs, priorities and concerns is vital. Therefore, we have decided to pick five to seven days per month for employees to come together in-office for collaborative work and socializing. We call these ‘3Place Days’ and are mindful when scheduling training, strategy sessions and social events so that we can maximize the value of our in-person time.”

 

But rolling up one’s sleeves doesn’t stop with helping elevate in-flight projects; it extends to a culture of perpetual growth and inclusivity.

“Helping our employees continue to develop, grow and achieve their career goals is vital,” said Dwyer. “We have been working on creating formal career paths and a development framework for our employees.”

In shaping 3Play Media’s culture, Dwyer leans on a 2017 study by Salesforce: “The Impact of Equality and Values Driven Business.” 

“It revealed that employees who feel heard by their employers are 4.6 times more likely to produce their best work,” she said. “We believe this to be true and strive to empower our employees so that they can bring their whole selves to work.”

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by 3Play Media

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