Ideas for Creating a Sense of Culture, Community Amid Social Distancing and Work-From-Home Mandates
As we all join together in the world’s largest work-from-home experiment, enterprises, universities, and organizations alike are looking to video communications to maintain day-to-day work and productivity. But as more companies make full-time remote working mandatory, they’re facing questions on how to bring organizational culture and communities to virtual environments.
Company and organizational culture is arguably one of the most important aspects of keeping morale and engagement high in any workplace, and even more so now that many of us are remote employees. In this post, I’ll share some real-world examples of virtual events and ideas centered around culture and community that you can bring to your organization with Zoom.
Get your team together for a themed day. Zoom’s internal Happy Crew does a great job putting together themed days where Zoom employees can get on Gallery View and share each other’s get-ups. Here’s one from this past Halloween:
Other companies have done fun work-from-home events, such as “Bring your Pets to Zoom” day.
Our first “Take Your Pets to @zoom_us” was a hit! Big learnings:
1. We have some adorable animals in the @GainsightHQ family!
2. Zoom-based bonding like this is ?
3. Snickerdoodle decided to have the “zoomies” right during the Zoom call… coincidence? pic.twitter.com/wWbvG8A1Hj
— Nick Mehta (@nrmehta) March 13, 2020
Virtual lunch and learns (or just lunches!)
Amid mass social distancing and isolation, Chipotle is creating a virtual event for arguably one of the most important aspects of community — conversation over a shared meal. Sharing a meal is an excuse to catch up and talk, and one of the few times where people are happy to put aside their work and take time out of their day to decompress. Keep your teams connected and in touch with a virtual lunch or coffee hour.
Fast-casual chain Chipotle is hosting virtual lunch get-togethers all this week, with celebrity guests and free giveaways. You can find the daily Zoom Meeting links on the chain’s Twitter page:
There’s a lot going on rn. If anyone wants to hang we’re going live on Zoom here: https://t.co/BveZZGXSeH
— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) March 16, 2020
“The Bachelor” Colton Underwood hosted today’s Chipotle event:
Tips for event hosts
- If you’re hosting a virtual lunch for employees or close groups, turn it into a Zoom Meeting (versus a webinar) so everyone can see each other and interact.
- If you’re hosting a webinar for a live broadcast, make sure you’re incorporating interactive elements such as live Q&A and chat. When answering questions coming in, make sure you thank and address attendees by name to make the experience a little more special.
Tips for attendees
- As an attendee, make sure you’re muted while you chew. Pro tip: Keep your mic muted and hold the spacebar to unmute your mic for any quick comments. Once you let go of the spacebar, you’ll go back to being muted.
- Try not to bring work-related agendas to these meetings. Focus on connecting with your colleagues, not just crossing off action items.
Virtual office hours
There are so many features within Zoom that you can leverage beyond your typical video meeting. Virtual office hours are blocks of time where you’re accessible for drop-in questions and conversations. This is especially great for team leaders or educators to open up their time without requesting 1-on-1 scheduled meetings. Leverage features such as Waiting Rooms and co-annotation and interactive whiteboarding to make the most out of your time.
The Waiting Room feature allows the host to control when a participant joins the meeting. As the meeting host, you can admit attendees one by one or admit them all at once. Find out how to leverage Waiting Rooms in this support article.
I held office hours by @zoom_us on Friday and was very impressed! Used the waiting room function for students to wait and let each student in individually. More students called in than typically come in person. Definitely a success. Also I love the whiteboard function. https://t.co/nd5hg3tSNL
— Dr. Amanda Kay Montoya (@AmandaKMontoya) March 8, 2020
Interactive whiteboarding & co-annotation
With interactive whiteboarding and co-annotation, instructors and students can leverage their mobile device, tablet, or desktop to co-annotate over a blank whiteboard or over shared content.
Click “Share Screen” and select “Whiteboard” to start a blank whiteboarding session.
To co-annotate over shared content, click “Share Screen,” select the application you’d like to share, and select “Annotate” in your share bar.
Organize a company “rendezvous” over Zoom
Zoom has workers around the world who might never get to meet in person, so once a quarter we host a “Zoom Rendezvous.” This virtual event, hosted by one of our amazing customer success managers, is a chance to connect with remote Zoomies and those in other offices, departments, and floors.
Everyone in the company is invited to join the Zoom Meeting, where they can introduce themselves and share fun stories and ideas. It’s a great way to put a face to a name and meet other colleagues. Some pro tips on hosting a successful Zoom Rendezvous:
- Select a topic for discussion beforehand and call on each participant by name to create engagement. Topics can be things like best summer vacation, your first job, and the last concert you attended.
- Require EVERYONE to be on video. You can mandate this in the meeting invite so everyone knows ahead of time that it is expected.
- Use Breakout Rooms to divide up a big group into smaller ones so it’s not as overwhelming and participants can get more personal interactions.
- Give away a gift card to randomly selected participants to encourage broader participation.
Start thinking virtual-first
Before you cancel any planned events, ask yourself, can it be a virtual event?
In recent weeks, many corporate and community social events have been interrupted or canceled. But it’s also revealed people’s creativity in keeping their organization’s culture and community alive virtually. For example, Zoom’s internal Happy Crew turned our in-person yoga classes into a virtual event for employees, and was led by a yoga instructor over Zoom.
Here are some other examples of how people have adapted their in-person social events to virtual ones:
- Snowflake team holds baby shower for their team member over Zoom (Source: LinkedIn)
- Under quarantine, 13-year-old New Yorker has a bar mitzvah over video (Source: CNN)
- 2 Yale Students Created “Love Over Zoom” For Dating During The Coronavirus Outbreak (Source: Elite Daily)
Keep that culture flowing
Maintaining a sense of culture and community will be critical for employee engagement and productivity as we further navigate fully working from home. Zoom makes it easy to build these morale-raising events into the workday and provide a sense of connectivity among colleagues.
Contact a Zoom product specialist today to learn more about effectively leveraging Zoom to elevate the work-from-home experience.