Today, I had the most interesting virtual experience. We were having our weekly team update meeting. However, instead of updates, our leaders decided we’d do “drive by visits” to other people in our department. Since COVID has all corporate employees working from home, there are no spontaneous chats in the kitchen, by the elevators, or when passing desks. So, to recreate the experience virtually, they sent out invitations for people join our meeting after it started.
It was fun to see our other HR partners join us. They didn’t really know what was going on, but quickly realized we simply invited them to chat and check in. As a new employee, it amazed me to see how close this team is. They have clearly worked together for a while and know each other very well.
This type of activity may not be as effective in every work environment, but it has for the environments in which I’ve found myself. I’ve worked on teams where we were dispersed across the province, so scheduled a meeting every two weeks to simply chat and catch up with each other. We’ve used apps to match ourselves with others in the department to set up “coffee chats” and get to know someone we don’t work with everyday. Some people got together for book chats, and others met to talk about articles or podcasts they’ve discovered.
This is the first time I’ve been onboarded into a new position in a 100% virtual environment. I have to say, it’s going very well. I’m starting Week 5, and I feel just as involved with my team as when I started jobs in person. My leader gave me a list of people with whom to set up “meet and greets” and everyone has been extremely welcoming. Our department gets together every Friday – either for an 8:00 a.m. breakfast together (yes, virtually), or an “It’s 5:00 somewhere” gathering at 3:30 – where we bring our beverage of choice.
I think, in some ways, working virtually creates deeper connections. We see each other in our home environments. We get to ask questions about what we see in the background, meet each other’s children/partners/pets, and get a glimpse into the lives of our colleagues. It sparks discussions we may not otherwise have in an office setting. Since it’s not possible to have “drive-by” discussions in an office, we are intentional when we reach out to people. We realize everyone’s time is valuable, so if someone is willing to share theirs with us, it means something.
I’m interested to hear what others are doing to form connections in our virtual world.