When you work virtually, it can be hard to get to know the people on your team. At Your Realty Leverage, our staff members live all over the United States and the Philippines. We have “offices” in a variety of cities and states such as St. Petersburg, FL, Clarksville, TN, Durham, NC, and Baltimore, MD. And in the Philippines, our staff works all across the country from Cebu City to Negros to Manila. As the company grows, more people from more states and more cities join the team. Yet when there is no water cooler to gather around and no common area to relax in for break time, it can be challenging to get to know each other and to create meaningful shared experiences.
As we continue to both serve our clients and build our team, we recognize the importance of intentionality in creating opportunities for coworkers to connect in ways beyond department meetings and 411s. There are several things we do at YRL that I personally have enjoyed being a part of and have found value in in terms of getting to know my coworkers in a deeper way. I have made a list of these activities and am sharing them here in the hopes that your virtual team can benefit from them. Remember: being intentional is the key!
- Daily Stand Ups: Each morning, the entire company gathers on Zoom at the same time for a daily check-in meeting. This is a time and space we have intentionally created so that staff members have the opportunity to 1) share what they are thankful for/give gratitude for something in any aspect of their life, 2) offer shout outs to team members who have been helpful in a certain way, have a birthday or noteworthy occasion, 3) make general announcements, and 4) share an activity or information on a designated topic depending on the day of the week. We have created routine around bringing everyone together and starting the day with a common, unified experience. It makes me smile to see all the talking heads pop up on my screen as my coworkers join the Zoom room for our call.
Some Daily Stand Up experiences are simpler than others. We move through the agenda for the day and then continue with our workday. However, there are very special moments that come out of these meetings which help us connect in different ways. We learn about each other’s lifestyles, families, friends, challenging situations, personal growth and development, new ideas, travel experiences, and so much more. It can provide a new perspective on a coworker or situation that resonates with you personally. And it helps create stronger bonds and a greater understanding of everyone on our team.
- One-On-One Meetings: It is common for our team members to schedule a variety of one-on-one meetings each week, typically with the focus on moving a specific project forward or gaining the skills and information needed to complete a given task. While those meetings focus on work, there is an opportunity to get to know each other by interacting in these moments. I encourage everyone to take some time in one-on-one meetings to pick up on verbal and nonverbal cues, to ask questions and build rapport with each other. We are so regularly focused on getting the job done that we can forget sometimes the human experience involved in getting us to reach a goal. Take time to learn about and from each other as you interact through your work
- Ice Breakers: At one of our recent Daily Stand Ups, a coworker led the team through an activity that really got us talking and laughing. It was a simple activity requiring that everyone comment on different categories and align ourselves with one side/option or another. Are you a dog person or a cat person? Do you prefer vacationing at the beach or in the mountains? Do you prefer sleeping in or getting up early? We were encouraged to respond via Zoom chat and, as we did, we commented on and went deeper with our answers. It created conversation and laughter, people joked with each other, others asked questions. We all got to be a part of the fun and we really enjoyed it. Incorporating ice breakers into your weekly routine can help contribute to breaking down barriers and aligning people in different ways.
- Happy Hour: On a Friday afternoon after a week of focus and hard work, it can be relaxing and enjoyable to gather with coworkers to debrief and transition into the weekend. Bring your own snack and a refreshing drink. Take off your blazer. Kick off your shoes and put your feet up. Let your hair down. Think about the challenges and the successes from the week. Recognize the accomplishments. Talk about plans for the weekend. And enjoy the company of your coworkers. Simply providing a chance for people to unwind and enjoy each other’s company can help build rapport.
- Culture Committee: Recently, we formed a Culture Committee to establish intention and structure around our company culture. We have not yet reaped the benefits of creating such a group. As time goes on, we will have different activities and there will be more opportunities for people to get to know each other. As the committee develops, I hope to write about how our culture has shifted and strengthened as a result of their work. Stay tuned for further blog posts with updates on being intentional with your team around getting together.