Are You Remaining Virtually Engaged With Colleagues?

Are You Remaining Virtually Engaged With Colleagues?

By Angela Argiro

In a time of remote work, making sure we find ways to enjoy each other is more important than ever.

Do Great Work. Have Fun. Make Money.
As a member of MP&F’s RAA-RAA (aka party planning) Committee, fulfilling the “Have Fun” portion of our company tagline has always been one of my favorite parts of working here. From monthly birthday treats to extravagant Halloween parties, to making sure the Kegerator always has a great local beer on-tap, it’s never been much of a challenge to make sure my fellow MP&Fers enjoy a never-ending supply of fun.

Now in a time of remote work, Zoom fatigue and the inability to share Slim & Husky’s cinnamon rolls with 70-plus people, making sure we take the time to “have fun” and engage with one another virtually has become a little more of a challenge. Thankfully, I work with some incredible and creative colleagues, and we’ve managed to keep the culture that makes MP&F so special alive. Here are a few of our staff’s favorite ways to stay connected … virtually!

Host a companywide event
t’s easy in a client-focused Zoom meeting to get straight to the point and dig right into the work. To make sure we’re all taking the time to connect with each other outside of work, we’ve carved out companywide chats to allow anyone who wants to participate to spend 30 minutes of their morning connecting with their co-workers. While these chats are specifically not about work, they always leave participants ready to tackle the day and feeling great about the work they do and the people they work alongside. 

To make these sessions fun and accessible to a team of 70-plus people, here are a few tips we’ve found helpful:

  1. Ask your employees about the best time or date to host a session so you’re sure to make it as accessible and convenient as possible.
  2. Use breakout sessions limited to no more than 12 people in each room. This allows folks to connect and have a chance to really talk with (not over!) one another. Pro Tip: Let Zoom do the hard work for you and randomly assign people to rooms.
  3. Prepare a few questions in advance and have a “facilitator” for each room. If you’re anything like our office, you won’t need to use these questions; but having them as a backup can be a great way to break the ice and take the pressure off.

Host a “Coffee Chat” with your leadership
The challenges of this year are no surprise to anyone, and many employees have questions about how their company is handling them. While it can be intimidating to speak up in a companywide staff meeting or approach a partner/senior leader one-to-one, individuals may feel more comfortable speaking up in a smaller group. 

We’ve begun hosting “Coffee Chats” with MP&F partners where up to 20 folks can log in to enjoy a cup of joe and ask the partner on deck … well, anything! From the best book they’ve read during quarantine to the tough questions, anything goes in these chats. These give employees a chance to ask questions and have their voices truly heard.

Snail mail
After staring at a screen all day, my eyes seriously need a break at the end of each workday.

Image of post card going into a mailbox en route to a coworker pen pal during the time of coronavirus work-from-home restrictions
While we’re all working remotely, an old-fashioned pen pal is a great way to stay connected with a co-worker – and turn your screen off.

On a regular basis, we put out a staffwide call for pen pal participants. Our incredible receptionist Julia then randomly pairs us with a pen pal. For the entire month, we send our pal letters, postcards, goodies – whatever!

And to take the pressure off, at the end of the month, you can move on to a new pen pal or sit the coming month out. This gives a great opportunity to get to know someone better without the pressure of a never-ending pen pal.

Book club
Most of our staff can be found with their nose in a great book at any given time, and my “to be read” list is jam-packed with all of their recommendations. It can be daunting trying to decide which to read next. To make it easy, we started an MP&F book club. Every few months, whoever is interested in reading the book du jour meets for a one-hour session to talk about that book

Participants in each session are entered into a drawing to offer options for the next book club read. The staff then votes on which book they most want to read next. This ensures we’ve picked something people actually want to read.

Goodie bags!
Everybody loves presents, and we do still have to eat, right? What better way to boost morale and surprise folks than by random goodie bags they didn’t know were coming? From a restaurant gift card emailed to your inbox or a branded facemask arriving in your mailbox to a drive-by goodie bag pickup of Halloween goodies for you and your kids, there is no shortage of ways to surprise employees on any budget.