Encourage Peer-to-Peer Connections
When the pandemic hit, I remember sitting down with the Leadership Team and discussing how we were going to maintain our culture of connectedness when we were spread out all over the state.
We came up with "Thread Connections," 30-minute, 1-on-1 video calls during the workweek with various colleagues to help us stay in the loop with each other's lives. It was a huge success, and we began gamifying it, making it part of the norm.
Then busy season kicked in, and the connections became too much at that scale. So we took a break. It was immediately evident that cutting them out altogether was not the right move, even if people were busier than before.
So we continued to work on it, think on it, discuss, poll, revise, and we found where we could make it happen: our weekly State of the Company.
Small group Thread Connections was born, and a couple times a month, on our weekly meeting, we break out into groups of 5-6 on Zoom and have a small chat. Prompt questions are given to help the conversation get started, but the teams can really talk about anything. The breakout makeup rotates each month to help team members get to know and connect with various colleagues, departments, tenures, etc.
It's one of the things I'm most proud of in my time here because I know how important it is to have those short chats about nothing; to make jokes with a colleague, to find something in common with someone you barely know, to make a natural connection.
Working from home since 2014 and changing jobs and being out of state, etc., taught me what is and is not important in a work environment.
In my book, a level of peer connectedness is really high up there. And that's why I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of building space and encouraging connections amongst our team. And even with the weekly breakouts, I find I still want to get a 1-on-1 in regularly to make sure I'm getting a deeper bond.
You don't need to move your entire organization into small groups. You don't even have to schedule calls for them with other colleagues. But if you haven't been thinking about ways to make sure your employees feel connected not only to their job responsibilities but to their peers, I urge you to consider your options.
Lead by example, set aside time to get to know your employees, encourage connection and understanding, and friendships in your organization and build a culture where people look out for each other by helping them with the first step of saying it's okay to make #friends at work.