October marks seven months of “these uncertain times” for us here at TrendyMinds. Like many others, we’ve run up against the challenges of maintaining productive work schedules, preserving our company culture, and balancing life, families, and the mental and emotional strains that come with living through a pandemic.
Every company is different, but here are some things we’re doing as an organization to care for ourselves and each other.
Keeping Up Morale
Coming from an office culture that loved any excuse to celebrate in our upstairs bar, we knew transitioning to a fully virtual environment would be a challenge. Sharing a beer over Google Hangouts just doesn’t feel quite the same, so here are some of the new ways we’re keeping in touch with each other.
- Water Cooler Academy. We’ve introduced these gatherings of 5–6 people from across the company as a chance to catch up with coworkers we might not work with every day. No work talk is required, although it sometimes comes up. We even record each one and send out an email recap so the rest of us can hear what everyone’s been up to. As a bonus, these recordings can add some casual background noise into our work routines.
- Daily huddles. In the office, most of our teams worked in close physical proximity to one another. This made it easy for copywriters to argue about punctuation or for designers to pass off design tasks to each other. Now, with everyone working from home, most of our teams have organized daily huddles where we can sync on tasks for the day, discuss upcoming workloads, and ask project-related questions. We make sure to leave time for a “Question of the Day,” because who thought to ask everyone’s favorite color before now?
- Happy hours. Pros of virtual happy hours: 1) Everyone has their favorite beverage on hand; 2) The TrendyMinds two-drink limit no longer applies; and 3) Snapchat filters rule. Cons of virtual happy hours: Are there any?
- Slack channels. Full disclosure, all of these Slack channels existed pre-pandemic, but sharing good news and cute animal pics seems more important now than ever.
- #boast-and-toast – Did someone hit a project pitch out of the park? Or go above and beyond to hit a deadline? Give them kudos here.
- #films-and-beer – This became a bit of a two-fer when we realized a lot of the same people who like movies at TrendyMinds also enjoy a cold one. Drop new trailers, discuss your favorite shows, and discover the best craft brews here.
- #all-things-pets – Self-explanatory. Your puppy fell asleep in your laundry hamper, while cuddling a stuffed duck, and also she was tiny-snoring? Pics or it didn’t happen.
Leaders Be Leading
In times of crisis, we look to our leaders for transparency and direction. At TrendyMinds, our executive team has ramped up communication with the entire company to offer peace of mind and encourage (virtual) open doors. Here are some things our leaders are doing to keep the rest of us motivated and informed:
- Weekly update emails. Every Friday, our President and CEO, Trevor Yager, sends a weekly update email to the entire company. Among personal anecdotes and personnel updates, he shares financial information and major upcoming projects, so the team can feel in-the-know (and confident) in the health and security of the company.
- 1:1s. Managers have always conducted frequent 1-on-1 meetings with their direct reports. During the pandemic, however, these have taken on a new importance. We still talk about goals and ongoing projects, but managers now also use them as a chance to check in on their teams’ mental health status.
Hiring and Onboarding Through a Pandemic
COVID-19 is changing a lot about how we work — including how we hire and train new team members. As company needs continue to change and grow, organizations are going to have to master digital onboarding. We’ve added a few members to our team since we went remote back in March. Here’s what we’ve learned in the process.
- Make resources available. Think org charts, training documents, cheat sheets, and processes. Remember, completely virtual training is new for everybody, and the typical means of connecting names and faces with roles and responsibilities are less available for new hires.
- Tip for new employees: If you feel like a helpful resource is missing, create that new resource!
- Keep lines of communication open. Schedule frequent check-ins between onboarding managers and new employees — multiple per day at first. Some of our managers even keep a virtual hangout open throughout the entire day so their new team members can pop in whenever they have questions.
- Make balance a top priority. Have an easily managed amount of work ready for new employees to dive into when they start. This will let them learn the ropes while giving them time and space to adjust to a new routine.
- Maintain good attitudes and flexibility. Virtual onboarding is new to everyone. Keep an open mind and be willing to adjust your approach.
All in all, it’s tough to make working remotely feel normal when we’re used to seeing each other’s faces every day. We’re doing what we can to keep the company culture we know and love alive and well with new ways of working and adapting to current circumstances.