For Caitrin McElroy, the countdown to dscout’s annual Midpoint event feels like “waiting for Christmas morning.”
“When we come together in person, there’s always this really overwhelming sense of togetherness and authenticity, even with people you’ve never met in person,” the customer support lead said. “It’s almost like a family reunion.”
The Midpoint event, which brings “dscouters” to Chicago for a week of workshops and team-bonding moments, serves as a catalyst for both personal connection and collaboration. Principal Software Engineer Ryan Pylipow noted that the strategic blend of activities and socialization makes it easy to feel energized throughout the week and spurs a deeper understanding of one’s colleagues across the company.
“There’s a good blend of social interaction where you’re doing things that are fun and take you outside of your comfort zone a little bit, but there’s also more strategic things that allow you to collaborate with people across departments, see the things that are important to them and build empathy,” he said.
Having time to build bonds with peers is important, considering some team members joined the company after it went fully remote. VP of Compliance and Information Karl Scott is one such individual who joined the organization virtually, and for him, the Midpoint event was a chance to extend his workplace friendships outside of Zoom.
“It felt like meeting distant cousins for the first time,” he recalled.
This sense of familiarity is captured in dscout’s core values — “Care deeply,” “Share openly,” “Learn daily,” “Pursue intently,” “Act curiously,” “Laugh frequently” and “Be yourself.” And considering how much the company cherishes these principles, it’s only fitting that the most recent Midpoint event incorporated an activity dedicated to them.
During the event, team members were asked to nominate their peers who embodied one of the company’s core values, and McElroy, Pylipow and Scott are three of those chosen individuals. Each of them, along with the rest of their colleagues, live out these values through their day-to-day interactions with each other and the company’s customers and research participants, also called “scouts.”
“Our values aren’t just written on a wall or shared in a document,” Pylipow said.
With its video research platform, dscout helps companies understand the everyday experiences consumers have with their products and brands in real life. The technology can be used to find research participants, launch research, manage studies and convert data into actionable insights.
More Than Words on a Wall
McElroy considers it no surprise that she was nominated by her colleagues for the core value “Laugh frequently.”
“I feel like my resting emotion is laughing,” she said — laughing, of course.
McElroy, who goes by “Captain Jolly” during the holiday season due to her festive spirit, believes that good humor serves her and her teammates well as they engage with the company’s customers in a way that is both knowledgeable and personable.
“It’s really important to me that we’re talking to customers like they’re humans,” she said. “Our mission is to make business more human, so we should be interacting with our users in the same way.”
For McElroy, this level of friendliness goes beyond pleasant conversations. In fact, she has become so close to some of the company’s “scouts” that she can recall what one brought to Thanksgiving dinner last year and knows all of the names of another one’s pets.
“I’m extremely grateful that I work at a place that values making space for those kinds of interactions with our users, because it builds those relationships in such a meaningful way,” McElroy said.
At dscout, employees have the space to forge meaningful connections externally and internally, regardless of how they approach these relationships. Scott, who is referred to as a “quiet leader” by his peers, believes he was nominated for the “Be yourself” value because the company celebrates all kinds of people.
“It’s really about dscout embracing all different types of personalities,” he said. “There’s no set profile in terms of who a dscout individual is. If you’re quiet like me, everyone respects and embraces that.”
Scott appreciates how the company gives him space to let others take the initiative. As a leader, it’s important for him to listen more and give his teammates extra time to share their ideas, which the organization not only allows, but encourages him to do.
Underpinning each of dscout’s values is a determination to support others. This is especially true for the value, “Care deeply,” which Pylipow was nominated for.
“It’s really easy to care deeply at dscout,” he said.
“It’s really easy to care deeply at dscout.”
According to Pylipow, the company instills a sense of care by maintaining transparency surrounding challenges, which empowers employees to take ownership and do their part to help the organization succeed. To foster this support both internally and externally, the company relies on feedback loops between different teams as well as with its customers.
“We’ve created a number of feedback channels from customers around things that need to be addressed, and they’re then routed to the correct people,” Pylipow said. “We have a close enough relationship with customers that we know how to help somebody navigate where they need to go.”
Pylipow added that the company’s values — particularly “Laugh often” and “Be yourself” — are reflected in smaller ways throughout their day-to-day work. It’s even shown in the way that leaders explain ongoing initiatives in a creative, nontraditional way during all-hands meetings.
“It’s rare that we make it through an all-hands meeting without there being some kind of eruption of laughter,” Pylipow said. “It makes our culture seem much more human and relatable.”
CREATING TIME FOR CONNECTION
While Midpoint is one of employees’ most beloved traditions, it’s far from the only opportunity they have to come together. The company has hosted a variety of events, including a ‘voguing’ dance class, which McElroy called “unforgettable” and “an incredible moment for dscout.”
McElroy added that the company also fosters connection through “pod pairs,” through which different teams within a given department will be paired with each other. “We’ll meet once a week to have social time to get to know other people whom we don’t usually work with,” she said.
From the ways in which employees cater to customers’ needs to how they connect with each other, there’s an undeniable degree of sincerity that defines dscout’s culture.
“Everyone cares,” McElroy said. “I feel extremely supported at dscout, and I love my coworkers.”
For Pylipow, this care is reflected in the ways in which team members always assume good intentions while always striving to do their part to drive progress.
“Everybody’s doing their best to move us forward, and that’s really easy to see,” he said.
“Everybody’s doing their best to move us forward.”
This makes it easy to have productive conversations, whether that’s related to challenges or opportunities to grow. Pylipow added that, if a team member doesn’t feel as though they’re living up to their fullest potential, their manager will make sure they get the chance to do so.
“The company is going to be transparent with you, treat you like an adult and find a way for you to figure out how you can step in and move things forward,” he said.
A focus on unlocking opportunity for employees, along with an emphasis on honesty, makes dscout an archetype of authenticity. Scott believes this genuineness alone is enough of a reason to join dscout.
“A lot of organizations talk about authenticity, but it’s really more talk than action,” he said. “At dscout, it’s real, and that’s really what sets it apart from other organizations.”