Liquid Web’s Executive Vice President and General Manager on creating a virtual team building atmosphere where individuals feel valued, supported, and part of a community.
In my last blog, fundamentals of management, we talked about the fundamentals being more critical than ever given our current global pandemic situation.
Now, as we face the reality of an extended stay-at-home work-life situation, it is also imperative that we maintain a strong community for the sake of our employees.
A company culture in which a worker feels valued and supported as an individual is vital in even the best of circumstances. Given the current global situation, the importance of maintaining your culture and your “community” magnifies.
In my experience, keeping employees motivated and with high morale take priority, and it’s essential to make sure you have these bases covered:
- Ensure each employee knows how they fit into the bigger picture, and how their role contributes to the success of the company.
- Reinforce with employees that management “has their back,” that employees are empowered, can take some risks, and that you’ll be there to support them.
- Take the time to ensure employees feel valued and are compensated fairly for the job they are doing. Sure, everyone would like to make more money, but sometimes that’s not what it’s all about. Make sure their compensation is fair and equitable to their peers for the job they are doing.
And then, to tie it all together, most employees want to have a sense of community – not just from the neighborhood in which they live, but in their place of work, as well. Layering on a strong sense of community in a way that matches your culture can take your team from good to great.
People are happiest when working in an environment that is in line with their values. A company culture in which employees feel challenged and are working alongside people they enjoy creates an atmosphere of positivity and productivity. And a part of liking someone is knowing someone—like really knowing them—on a level deeper than what their role is in the company. In times like this, it is essential that people feel connected to one another.
Here’s where the FUN in fundamentals can come in…
Now is a great time to spend time thinking about how you all stay connected. Here are some things we are doing at Liquid Web to ensure that our team doesn’t feel isolated, and that every single employee knows that we have their back while keeping morale high and infusing some fun into a virtual work setting. A little something for all interests and personality types.
I’d love to hear what you’re doing – hit me up @cawheeler99 on Twitter and share!
If you have a recurring meeting on the calendar, consider adding a bit of fun by giving it a theme. Every Friday, wear a certain color. My team enjoys Hat Fridays. Try different themes based on a decade or destination.
At the beginning of meetings, ask someone to send in a photograph. Everyone has to guess who sent it in. When the sender is identified, they get a chance to share a bit about the photo they sent and why it’s meaningful to them.
Draw names using a gift exchange generator, set a budget, and let the fun begin. If budget is an issue, try doing a DIY gift exchange in which gifts must be made using only items that the giver has on hand in their home. This is a really fun way to let employee creativity shine.
Netflix Watch Parties
This is a fun way for employees to stay connected. We’ve also opened this up to families and have kid-friendly viewing options.
Groups of 4-6 participants are randomly selected to have a 15-30 minute hangout session to talk shop, interests, or favorite Baby Yoda memes. Sample questions are provided as a starting point to get the ball rolling, but participants are free to talk about anything they want to get the conversation flowing.
Virtual Home Tours
Ask employees to share their favorite part of their home, whether that’s a room, a piece of furniture, or an object. Find out what’s bringing employees comfort in these times when so many of us are housebound.
Employees fill out a questionnaire about their interests and personality. They are then matched with an employee from a different location. The two swap questionnaires and, based on the other person’s answers, they paint or draw a small 4×4 piece of art for their new friend.
Set up Slack channels based on locations that allow employees to share information about ways to help in their communities.
Hosting a virtual Talent Show is an excellent way to get to know your colleagues better. Everyone gets five minutes. Acts can range from serious to silly. Laughter is inevitable and you might just discover a secret opera singer in your midst.
Happy Hour Team Meetings
This is a great way to unwind at the end of the week. Close out the week with a meeting that allows teams to check in about the week over their beverage of choice.
Themed Photo Contests
Every week, choose a stay-at-home friendly theme (like food, pets, from my window) and host a photo contest. Feature the best submission at the start of a team meeting.
Resource-Sharing for Parents and Caregivers
Start a Slack channel for sharing resources like online learning, tips for keeping kids entertained, and how to balance working from home while managing education at home.
For large companies with lots of employees, variety is essential. Try different approaches and see what resonates. One silver lining of these very trying times is that, if we can find ways to forge the connections that this season calls for, we will know one another more deeply—and we may even be more productive—than we ever have before.
Be safe out there, and have some FUN!
Learn More About Leading Remote Teams Successfully
Carrie Wheeler is the Chief Operating Officer for Liquid Web. Carrie’s background has given her a unique perspective on how to combine excellent products and services. In her 25 years of experience in technology, telecommunications, hosting, and cloud services (at MCI, AT&T, and Cbeyond to name a few) she has served many roles in both Information Technology and Customer Operations.
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