The Office Exchange Program

We’re sending Dayton-based staff to mix it up with other offices. The benefits are surprisingly powerful.

Periodically, we like to share insights from the heart of Real Art. Straight from the source, these “wiretaps” feature experts in the Real Art tribe, offering an inside look at the personalities and passions flowing through our home and pervading our work. In this piece, five Real Arters discuss the benefits of a unique initiative: our inter-office exchange program. Launched only in January, the exchange sends randomly selected staff members from Real Art HQ to work and play for a few days in one of our satellite offices in Chicago or New York.


Get an insider’s perspective.

Susan Jauss, Interactive Designer, visited New York

“When they were shaking up the box of names and about to pull the first person for the exchange, I was 100% sure that it was my name coming out of there. I had such a great time working in a different location, getting to experience the workflow of another office, and getting to explore the city with an insider’s perspective. It was a different experience than just visiting New York as a tourist and grabbing a taxi to get everywhere and not really walking the city. We visited MoMA on our office culture day and that was a really meaningful experience. It was like having a personal tour guide and we could all talk about each piece like we were doing a little critique at work. It was cool going to a museum with fellow design people and having that perspective.”

See new things to be proud of.

Jenn Gobrail, Art Director, visited Chicago

“I had never been to the Chicago office before—which is crazy because I’ve been at Real Art for 9 years. Having three separate offices, there’s the hazard of us feeling like three separate companies. But doing something like this makes you realize that you’re all working together and there are things we can be proud of as a whole. Usually if I talk to someone about a project, it’s over IM or email. It isn’t personal communication. It isn’t something you bond over. So just being in Chicago and talking with everyone was a good experience. It helped build our relationship. Now, if I need help with something, I feel more comfortable asking them and I know that they’d be willing to help.”

Find unexpected inspiration.

Brian Retterer, Back-End Developer, visited New York

“My recommendation to anyone with this opportunity is to do more than just what’s required. Go out and experience things. Go explore. You never know what inspiration might come your way. The things we did on our culture day were experiences I wouldn’t have typically done on my own. You go to New York and maybe go to Times Square or stay in one part of the city. Unless you’re with someone who knows what else is out there, you might not get to see it. I would recommend this sort of thing even to companies without multiple offices. There’s just so much potential in getting outside of your daily world, seeing a different city and how other people do things.”

A location change can fuel creativity.

Cheri Stammen, Senior Designer, visited New York

It’s much more inspiring to be working in a different space. When something in your life gets shaken up, you have to find a new way to work. And in a creative industry like ours, it’s a good thing to get shaken up a little. It’s all too easy to get comfortable and default to the same design strategies and ideas. So a location change can fuel creativity. It can fire you up to try something new and work in a different way. And doing something like this really makes you appreciate how much of a tribe Real Art is. In Dayton, we all hang out together after work and on the weekends. You don’t usually get to do that with the folks in Chicago and New York. So the program makes those work relationships into friendships, which makes working with each other all the better.”

Nothing can take the place of having a beer together.

Chris Wire, CEO and Fearless Leader

“Getting together in an informal way, just having a couple of drinks, might be the most important part of this program. You start talking about things—good and bad parts of work, projects, things that inspire you—and the next thing you know, together you’ve birthed an awesome new idea. Something spectacular. And that shared experience also brought you closer together so that if something later goes wrong, everyone assumes good intentions. When you get a drink with someone, you get a lasting sense that they’ve got your back. Both parties feel that the other person is protecting them. Our exchange program helps to strengthen these connections.”

Got you hooked? Here’s more:


The Magic of Brainpower, Deductive Abilities, and Curiosity
Chris Wire discusses creativity and curiosity at TEDxDayton


Andrew Althouse on Inspiration
Why you should paint both sides


The Engine of Creativity
More sound bites and insights from Real Art’s Fearless Leader

icon-instagram icon-twitter icon-linkedin icon-news icon-vimeo icon-realmart