In a stay-at-home world, what can you do to ensure you have a team and not just a bunch of people earning paychecks who barely have any esprit de corps?
5 WAYS TO MAINTAIN YOUR “BIRTHDAY CAKE MEETINGS”
Tips for ensuring a sense of corporate community even when employees are not together physically
By Michael Wayne
Quarantine Day 87. I think.
After months of stay-at-home orders and, now, partial re-openings, most of us have seen what our worlds look like with many working from home. Truth be told, I have been continuing to go into the office daily. Thankfully, I have my own space and a door. The few colleagues who have been joining me have all been diligent about social distancing. Today, as I was walking in, a fellow employee I hadn’t seen since March appeared and almost immediately blurted out, “I don’t even feel like I work here anymore.” I wonder how many others feel similarly.
For whatever reason, it seems like prior to the COVID-19 pandemic people were clamoring to work from home. Undoubtedly, there are those who are absolutely enthralled with the thought of never stepping foot in an office ever again. If the words of my coworkers are any indication though, there seems to be a longing for real interaction and what I will describe here as “Morning Birthday Cake Meetings.”
In the world of the “Virtual Watercooler,” someone has to start the conversation. As part of speaking to your team daily, give them some fodder outside of revenue reports.
Once a month, our office has a collective celebration for all employees who have their birthdays in that respective month. It’s an opportunity for us to show appreciation and care, a 30-minute networking event, and another way for us to come together collectively as a team. It is a great example of our culture and, now, it highlights how much people are missing human interactions.
Plain and simple, are you maintaining your “Morning Birthday Cake Meetings?” What are you doing to ensure that you continue to have an organization and not just a bunch of people earning paychecks who barely have any esprit de corps?
- Ensure your culture’s connectivity.
Taking advantage of technology at this juncture is an absolute must. To be clear, the focus here is not on Zoom, Google Meet, or GoToWebinar. Important as those are, they are only tools to help your culture breathe. In this instance, the medium is not the message. Look for apps that can help you recreate the activities your employees are used to engaging in around the office. Check out Jack Box Games, for instance, if your office is trying to find a way to reclaim its trivia night. Need some internal networking? Use something like Donut to randomly bring employees together to find out about each other’s organizational roles.
- Speak to your team daily.
Whatever this looked like previously, make sure you approach it in a similar fashion now. Even better, if prioritizing time to communicate wasn’t something you were doing before with your team, now is a fantastic time to start. Your team wants to be motivated and wants to know that its leader has a vision for today and tomorrow. Keep them in the loop.
- Provide the needed substitute for the vacuum.
In the world of the “Virtual Watercooler,” someone has to start the conversation. As part of speaking to your team daily, give them some fodder outside of revenue reports. You do not have to be a grand philosopher, or even just a plain philosopher, to offer up topics of conversation. Share an article and promote your organization’s LinkedIn page at the same time. Offer commentary on how your garden is doing. Give insight regarding a movie you let your children watch for the first time over the weekend. Really, the topics are endless. Pick one, and wax eloquently about it.
- Check-in with your employees.
Depending upon the size of your organization, you may not be able to speak to everyone daily. What you can do, however, is identify one or two colleagues to make a priority each day; no, not for the whole day. In less than five minutes, you can have a meaningful dialogue. There is a catch. When you ask someone how they are doing, legitimately listen to their response. Additionally, be real about what is going on with you. No, you don’t have to confess everything that you are feeling; but, for this to work, you do need to be empathetic. This can also be something that you have your managers do.
- Let employees show-off their at-home offices.
This is an opportunity for employees to learn about each other in ways they hadn’t previously. Of course, some individuals will be more reserved about this than others, and that is fine. Seeing other members of the family, pets, and décor humanizes us and makes us relatable. When we invite others into our homes, we are trusting them to a large degree by opening ourselves up. Give employees the latitude to be themselves … within reason.
As we navigate this Brave New World together, remember that some are better rowers in the boat than others. Regardless, we have all embarked on a new journey that will offer streams of storytelling that we left largely untapped in the past. Certainly, there will be challenges, but the opportunities that appear out of these challenges will give us opportunities we never saw before as we move forward.
Michael Wayne is an insurance freelance writer.