It’s been about one month since untold millions of businesses around the world have been working virtually for the first time — or at least for such an extended period of time.
We’re a veteran at virtual work, but that doesn’t mean we have everything figured out. We don’t have experience fostering community and connections during an all-consuming crisis and, like you, are working through stressful, unprecedented times — one day at a time.
Even with the uncertainty we all feel, there’s something unifying and powerful in adapting how we interact with people at work and outside it, collectively giving birth to creative ideas.
Last month, our CEO Kelle O’Neal shared some of the approaches we’re taking in her remote work readiness blog post. Since then, we’ve enjoyed hearing about our clients’ innovations in this area. The world around us provides regular inspiration, too. All we have to do is check Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or our favorite news channel. Seeing what companies and individuals are doing bolsters our faith in humanity, makes us smile (or cry) for a moment, reminding us we’re part of a shared global experience where meaningful and often virtual connections can sustain us.
Creative Ideas to Build Community and Connections
If you’ve been heads-down on work this month and haven’t had time to see what companies are doing to stay connected while working apart, here are ideas from FSFP and beyond our virtual walls that you may want to try.
Ask a question of the week. Our Director of Marketing Czarina Carden recently began posting a question each Friday in our Slack’s #watercooler channel that we had fun answering. Last week’s question (above) had us reminiscing about our school years and sharing photos with funny haircuts and retro clothing, often both.
Encourage professional development and cross-team interactions. If you’ve been waiting to schedule your next team training session or other departmental meeting until work returns to normal, think carpe diem. You could ask team members to share client feedback on a new product or service roll-out, or give your data governance team the floor for an update on their 2020 initiatives.
Last month, we changed up our long-standing Friday Forum educational sessions. (Before making the switch, we polled our team to find the best day to meet — read on.) Now, these recurring video meetups will continue under the “Thursday Data Talk” name, which is even more fitting for our data management consulting company.
Host a month- or quarter-end debrief. For several years now, Kelle’s called us together via Zoom each quarter. She updates us on new and recurring client engagements and company initiatives and honors our FIRST award winner of the quarter. (FIRST is our acronym for our company values: Focus, Integrity, Resourcefulness, Skillfulness and Teamwork.)
Try a Zoom background. If you haven’t seen or used a background on a Zoom call, you’re missing out on an easy and fun way to make your “personal Zoom rectangle” stand out. Sure, some of these video wallpapers can occasionally be distracting when you make a sudden move and the background refreshes. But they’re still a fun way to add oomph to Zoom. To uplevel your video presence even more, you could spring for a customized canvas background, such as this one from Anyvoo that I heard about on a podcast.
Invite everyone to a virtual happy hour. We didn’t invent this idea at FSFP, but we’d like to thank whoever did. Just set the date and time, and invite your team to bring their own beverage and chat with teammates about the week that was. You can BYOS (snack), too.
Share a tech tip. There’s more awareness today of best practices, apps and technologies that can improve our video presence. I haven’t tried Zoom’s Touch Up My Appearance setting yet (making a mental note to do so ASAP), but I have placed my laptop on a box in an attempt to be captured at a better angle on video.
On our recent first-quarter recap call, FSFP’s senior consultant Gretchen Burnham slacked (because it’s a verb, now) us a photo of her recent purchase — a ring light that got us all thinking about our next Amazon order.
Poll for input, ideas. Slack offers functional and fun integrations to help you get the most from its collaboration tool. One add-on we’re enjoying right now is the polling app, Polly. When Czarina was teeing up the next Data Talk topic, she polled the team to vote and agile data governance was the most popular choice.
Show us your kids. Pre-crisis, we shushed our kids when they interrupted a business call, working to keep them out of view and earshot. Today, it’s a more accepted part of our online work experience to welcome our kids onscreen for a moment to share what they’re learning in their home studies or to say hi to the people mom or dad works with.
Show us your pets, too. Dogs barking during a work-related call or a cat stepping across our keyboard used to make us feel unprofessional. Today, it’s no problem because we know these furry-friend interruptions are profoundly small, all things considered.
Over to You!
We hope this collection of ideas inspires you to try something new at work to foster community and deepen connections.
If you’re tackling the new world of virtual work in a creative way, we’d love to hear about it. Email FSPF’s marketing team so we can give you a virtual high five and share your creativity in FSFP’s Slack account.