Editor’s note: For transparency’s sake, we’d like to declare that 3-Sixty Brand Communications is the advertising agency of Singapore Kindness Movement, owner of The Pride. However, we felt that 3-Sixty BC’s kindness and inclusiveness in supporting their staff was a story deserving to be told, and that being the agency for SKM shouldn’t exclude them as newsmakers.
“Oh yes. I was afraid, very afraid that I might lose my job. Not that I didn’t trust or believe in Stephen and Cindy [his bosses] – it’s that with such problems, one tends to think of the worst,” admitted Stanley Ho, who regarded the realisation of his kidneys having failed in totality as the lowest point in his life.
Six months into his job as Senior Art Director at 3-Sixty Brand Communications, it dawned on the 39-year-old that his health was declining much quicker than he imagined.
Triggered by a bacteria infection while being on a catheter, Stanley found himself glued to a hospital bed for a month, being treated with intravenous antibiotics and having blood samples drawn from him repeatedly. This included being warded in the renal intensive care unit for some considerable time.
For Executive Director Stephen Choy, letting Stanley go was the last thing on his mind, “You can’t give up on your family member especially in a time of dire need!”
Coinciding with the outfit’s crunch time, Stanley’s one-month absence from work proved to be an exceptionally trying time for everyone at the 14-person strong agency. With tasks and projects on hand that had to be passed on to other teammates for completion, his co-workers nonetheless found the time to visit him at the hospital – marking a bond that Stanley pointed out is a plus when working in a small organisation.
Explaining that 3-Sixty’s tight-knit culture goes beyond just being an employee at the workplace, Stephen shared that they like to think themselves a family of friends, housed in the same vicinity doing the things they love.
“We always say that this should be a family-like workplace rather than a workplace per se. So I think everyone is almost like family. When we found out about Stanley’s condition, rather than find ways to get rid of him, we try to find ways to help, try to make things work for him as well as for us,” he explained.
Juggling dialysis sessions every other day though, hasn’t been an easy feat for Stanley nor his teammates who have had to manage an uncertain schedule especially in the initial stage of his treatment. As Stanley grappled with adjusting to dialysis and was tackling work stress, he became physically and mentally drained, and would even unknowingly fall asleep at his desk.
To accommodate his situation, the folks at 3-Sixty plan meetings and manage deadlines in consideration of Stanley’s dialysis schedule.
“Right now everything is more stabilised. We know two, four, six, he has to go for dialysis. So we try to work around that schedule,” said Stephen, adding on that undergoing dialysis is not Stanley’s choosing.
While the team is always ready to lend a helping hand, Stanley still feels guilty for missing out on work due to his sessions. His quick hands though, have enabled him to squeeze five days worth of work into three.
Emphasising that it’s a give-and-take on both ends, he makes up for his absence by coming to work earlier, staying back later on non-dialysis days, or catching up on the weekends.
Stanley laughed, “So long as I clear my work and make my bosses happy, I’m sure it’s OK, right?”
Crediting his caring teammates and understanding superiors for his being able to cope with the challenges, Stanley highlights the importance of time management and support – the latter being something which Stephen counts as a blessing at his agency.
“I think we’re very fortunate. We’re quite a good bunch. Nobody has ever uttered a word of dissatisfaction or grumbled about it… No one has ever complained that Stanley isn’t pulling his weight. Well, he is. So it’s good,” he observed.
While everyone in the office has had some part to play in helping Stanley thus far, Client Service Director Cindy Tay cited Stanley’s own capabilities as a driving force that enables him to carry on his work at 3-Sixty. Sharing that the quality of his work remains status quo and hasn’t been affected by his illness, Cindy brought to point that Stanley doesn’t compromise on creativity.
Likewise, Stephen identifies Stanley’s resolve and perseverance as key qualities that have brought him to where he is now, “Throughout the entire episode, he has never once complained or lamented his condition and situation.”
With this attitude, quitting has never been on the table for Stanley. Determined to prove his worth and remain employable, he doesn’t believe in using his illness as an excuse for any shortcomings.
Three years with the same outfit and still going strong, Stanley’s source of motivation each day is his ability to still come to work and create handiwork at his second home, “I think for myself, what pushes me is that at the end of the day, I want to see nice things.”
As Stephen puts it, you don’t give up on family.