What Brings Us Together-- Investing in Relationships During Quarantine

Posted on April 23, 2020 by Bailey Crumpton. Tagged: Resources for Entrepreneurs, For Clients

Reflecting on 2020 and how it changed us will be an ongoing process of overcoming challenges and discovering shared solidarity in strife.  The discussion of how an overkill of screen time was pulling us apart has entirely flipped on its head as we now depend on those same devices to bring us together.

Passing the one-month mark of staying at home and many businesses working remotely, we wanted to gain insight into how people are managing. Inspiring motivation, continuity, and resilience during a global traumatic event is no easy task.  It’s important to bring new awareness and added layers of consciousness to earnestly respond to how people are dealing with new circumstances, upheavals, and grief.

The question we’re all trying to answer now, is how exactly do we maintain continuity in our work and our relationships? What does supporting people from a distance actually look like in practice? We reached out to teams across Colorado to learn more about how they’re uplifting their teams, investing time in relationships, and maintaining continuity during this time.

Question 1: How are you supporting your teams and strengthening your relationships through communication, ideas, techniques, meetings, or tools?

Christa Babel, Director of Talent Strategies at SRS Acquiom, shed light on keeping her teams connected:

“As a FinTech company we were already leveraging many tech tools, applications and virtual connection, but of course a full workforce remote was a whole new challenge.  For our leadership teams, we've focused on training sessions and libraries on how to be connected and more personal as a leader, as positivity ripples from the top.  For individual contributors, we've focused on fun. In addition to the tools and resources at their fingertips, we have offered resources for mental wellness, financial wellness, physical wellness and extended some free benefits and EAP programs to support the challenge of being locked in with family, pets, friends AND trying to work.”

One tech manager emphasized how this crisis brings us together as people, not just coworkers:

“We utilize instant messaging tools like Slack as our primary means of communication for our teams, projects, and DMs. Work is getting done the exact way it has before, given we are a very dispersed company. Video meetings help keep things a bit more personal when you can see faces. We try to ensure we spend time talking about the human side of all the chaos first instead of diving into work topics. I find that this crisis has brought all of us a bit closer, parents, pet owners, etc. because we’ve been sharing the same struggle.”

Another shared that his team had a smooth transition to remote work, and respect for people’s time has been key in this:

“We were in a pretty good place organizationally to shift to a remote working model. Now more than ever, we’re putting an added focus on respecting people’s time by accommodating a wide variety of unique work schedules, encouraging people to rely on asynchronous communication of non-urgent matters and attempting to be more purposeful with our meeting topics and audiences. On top of that, we are encouraging people to get outside or meet with coworkers (virtually) to chat about non-work related items. That way we can continue to build strong relationships and avoid burnout.”

Analiese Brown, VP of Talent and Culture at CampMinder in Boulder discusses how they are providing additional support systems while leveraging tools to keep continuity in tact:

“We have a collaborative Google document where team members share what tools and strategies are working for them, including tips on working remotely and resources for overall mental, emotional, and physical health. We know many of our team members are now faced with the prospect of balancing work and family life, so we’ve also provided guidance to everyone on how to be empathetic and supportive to parents and caregivers right now.

In addition to providing a one-time childcare stipend to our parents and caregivers, we also made sure our employee’s monthly wellness stipend through ThrivePass could be used for childcare, home office equipment, and food delivery to meet the needs created by remote work.

Our CEO has been providing weekly updates and Talent & Culture team members and managers have an open Zoom Door policy for anyone who needs extra support or just needs to talk.

Additionally, managers are keeping their departmental meetings and 1:1 check-ins in place, knowing that their team members might need extra guidance and support right now, especially those for whom this is their first experience working remotely.

We also continue to leverage Officevibe, a weekly pulse survey tool, to keep a close eye on team member’s engagement levels. We recently added a few custom survey questions about how the company is responding to the COVID-19 situation to gauge how we’re doing and make adjustments to how we’re supporting our team members through this challenge.”

Question 2: Can you share a fun story or example of something your team is doing to stay connected during this time?

For SRS Acqiuom, creating their 30x30 Get Moving Wellness Challenge has lifted spirits. Babel describes:

“We've created challenges and games in addition to the commitment of expectations of a performance driven culture. Our favorite initiative has been launching a "30x30 Get Moving Wellness Challenge" in which we sent out trackers and asked for submissions of pictures, videos or recommendations on how to stay moving.  Anyone completing a minimum of 30 minutes of movement for 30 days sends in tracker and will be in a drawing for prizes.  People have been funny, creative and motivated.  We’ve received lots of great feedback and it was very low cost for us.”

CampMinder successfully held an all-company monthly meeting virtually that recognized employees for embodying the company’s core values. Brown elaborates:

“Our monthly all-company meeting is an opportunity for team members to publicly recognize their colleagues for embodying our core values, and we successfully conducted March’s meeting over Zoom. The teambuilding portion of the meeting included a virtual scavenger hunt, for example, everyone had to hold up a roll of toilet paper, with hilarious screenshots to capture the fun.

A big crowd favorite is our weekly Happy Hour with team member “CRIBS”-style tours. By downloading the Zoom app on their cell phones, team members are able to give a full tour of their homes. We’ve hosted a Costume Catwalk for our beloved pets we miss seeing at the office, and we’re holding a lunchtime social hour for anybody who wants to drop in to say hello.”

Other teams have created communication channels just for social interaction, something to look forward to amidst the chaos:

“We have created a few social channels for groups to share what playlist they are listening to that day or week, and share memes, Tiger King has popped up a lot. We did a Zoom background contest where some people found old pics of execs and used that as backgrounds. There’s a weekly HH and a weekly coffee meetup, to accommodate for both drinkers and non.

It’s also been helpful that our executives have shown up to company all-hands or team meetings with their children, less than ideal guest rooms, barking dogs, etc. They set the tone that chaos is normal in this time and to have grace and empathy. This has really helped people worry less about those things and focus on what matters. It all comes from the top.”

Evolving in the New Normal

As we navigate this new normal together, examples of people diving in and developing creative pathways for continuity are everywhere.  We are inspired by the leadership, new ideas, and commitment to investing in relationships despite current obstacles. We’ll be here ringing our cowbells and saying, don’t give up! Just keep going!

Each of our tech leaders stressed that while the nuances of communication should be interlaced with understanding and patience, they are not mutually exclusive from encouraging a productive environment.  In fact, we found those showing vulnerabilities and accepting the chaos of the current moment are helping bring their teams together to forge ahead in unforeseen ways. We thank the contributors to this conversation, and aim to continually modify our own approaches for supporting our teams' and our partners' success.

Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!