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North Texas company welcomes back employees by turning 2020 feelings into art

Headstorm wanted its employees to express what the company, and the past year, has meant to them.

ADDISON, Texas — For businesses all over America, 2020 was a tough customer.

But for Lawrence King, CEO of a digital product and engineering firm, the biggest concern from 2020 was that his employees had forgotten 2019.

“Perhaps not forgotten, but certainly missed,” King said. “We’ve got a lot of young people and they really experienced being isolated.”

Lawrence says his company, Headstorm, prides itself on allowing employees to feel like family. They routinely gathered for social outings outside of work hours.

That’s why, when COVID-19 hit, it was tough going from the office to Zoom.

“It was a big impact,” said Headstorm partner and employee Alex Cherones. “These are people that spend just as much time with their family as they do their co-workers.”

“That was my way of bonding and appreciating the type of work that they do,” King added. “That part was sorely missed.”

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So when King made the decision recently to re-open the office after a year apart he turned to an adviser, Bryon Morrison, for help.

“Lawrence said at the beginning of this, ‘Let’s remind everybody of how great it is when we’re together,’” said Morrison.

Morrison is the CEO of Proxxy, a company that works closely with Headstorm.

To welcome everyone back to Headstorm, Morrison came up with a colorful idea.

The company had just moved into its new office in Addison when the pandemic forced it to moved operations online. As King prepared for employees to return to the building, he realized the walls were still white, the office felt flat and the space had no identity.

So, together with Morrison, they covered the office in plastic, dressed everyone in disposable scrubs, and asked them to throw paint on the walls.

Three rooms were set up to let employees create.

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One room allowed them to paint words that matter to a successful organization. A second room offered them a chance to let loose and create an abstract piece of art that represented their feelings from 2020.

The final room was a chance to show the values they held so highly for the company.

Many employees took the opportunity to let out their frustrations on what has been an exhausting year.

“Just the things they put on there are remnants of how they felt,” King said.

“You could see that in the work,” Morrison added.

Most employees showed up to paint, but only a handful of have returned to the office full time. As more are vaccinated and case counts go down, the rest will gradually return.

When they do, what they created will hang as a reminder of how it felt being apart, allowing them to never forget the beauty of working together.

“It’s motivational to look at that and say if we were able to do this kind of growth and positive change in the darkest of time, in the coming years the sky’s the limit,” Cherones said.

The future’s looking pretty bright.