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Personal Insights

Working Together, Apart

If you’re like me, the majority of your team is now working remotely. It’s important to note that the future of work, distributed teams, and working from home have been an exciting trend in recent years. A trend so exciting that I founded a company, Disco, to help global and distributed teams feel more appreciated and connected by celebrating when a coworker goes above and beyond or lives a company value within the tools people use most like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts Chat.

As of March 19, 2020, 58% of US knowledge workers are working entirely from home.

% of US Knowledge Workers Working Remotely

What we’re currently experiencing IS NOT THAT TREND. Many of us are also dealing with health issues, childcare, and other unexpected stressors. While it’s unclear if this pandemic will change the long-term trajectory of distributed work, what is clear is that feeling connected with the people we work with is more important than ever.

So how do we stay connected when work as we know it has seemingly changed overnight? I’ve compiled a list of ways to help all of us make work feel a bit more connected. A bit more human.

Connect together

  • Encourage managers to have more frequent check-ins on work and personal issues. At least once a week.
  • Make it clear that babies & puppies are welcome on video calls. Some teammates are now watching their human or fur babies all day with little or no support.
  • Give parents infinite hall passes to skip meetings. No questions asked.
  • Limit internal calls to 3-4 per day max.
  • Allocate 2-3 hours per day where no meetings are to be held. This gives people a chance to stay heads down or deal with personal issues related to health, childcare, fitness, and beyond.
  • Instead of sending long emails or Slack messages, use video to communicate (we use Loom). This saves time typing and makes work a little more human.

Work together

  • Keep a Zoom or Hangout active all day to work in silence or encourage spontaneous collaboration.
  • Share pictures of the new home and workspace.
  • Keep an extra eye out for teammates trying to collaborate. Give Slack mentions, Google Doc comments, etc an extra scrub to make sure you’re not leaving coworkers on read.
  • While having video meetings, enable video when possible to create deeper human connection.
  • Schedule random syncs with cross-functional teammates (1-2 per week) to socialize on a more personal level.
  • Play office white noise if people are really missing the office ambiance. 

Here’s our team sync with the youngest member of the Disco team 👶

Play together

  • Coordinate asynchronous games (chess, words with friends, etc) to play together throughout the workweek.
  • Dedicate time to play games as a team (web based games like Monopoly, chess, etc).
  • For heavy gamers, pick a console and a game to schedule an hour to play together (Smash Bros on the Nintendo Switch is the Disco team’s favorite).

Eat together

  • Schedule digital lunches to share a meal with your team
  • Buy your team lunch on random days. Send them a gift card to their favorite restaurant or tell them to expense a meal of their choice.
  • Encourage employees to share pictures of their food to any #food channels in Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Stay active together

  • Share workouts, fitness plans, and more with the team.
  • Create optional daily plank or push-up challenges employees can participate in.

Celebrate together

  • Recognize your coworkers when they help you out in the day-to-day in Slack or Microsoft Teams. Disco connects & pushes this feedback to SuccessFactors Performance & Goals in real-time.
  • Aggregate wins and share the top accomplishments with leadership at the end of the week.
  • Call out the people who are living the core company values in this new environment.

A company’s culture doesn’t depend on office space to feel connected to each other or the culture. We will get through these difficult times with a little extra empathy and effort to maintain the human connection that makes working at your company feel special.

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