I miss my team.
Nine months into local government-mandated remote work amid a hellish pandemic, I’m personally feeling the distance from my coworkers (and people in general) super hard as we shift to December, with its lessened sunlight and increased public restrictions.
Granted, we’ve always been distributed: Stephen works from Baltimore, Michelai works from D.C., Holly works from Wilmington. But we still meet throughout the year at All-Team Days, company retreats and market-specific events. And the rest of us work out of HQ in Philly’s Curtis Center, with its proximity to Washington Square Park and many excellent lunch options. Paige and I worked there together once — on opposite sides of the room, wearing masks when we needed to get closer — in October. I’ve never even met Michael in person, and Donte hasn’t been able to see the Baltimore coworking space he was promised since he moved there in June.
We’re lucky to be able to work from home, to be clear. And some of us may choose to continue to do so beyond COVID-19. But some days? I wish I could pop into the meeting room to hash out editorial plans with Chris, or catch Sabrina in the hall as she returns from hosting some important stakeholder convo.
So, until we can return to our shared space, we turn to Slack. You know, the publicly traded workplace communication giant that’s had quite the moment in 2020 — right down to this week when it was reported to have been acquired by Salesforce for $27.7 billion.
Plenty of teams, technical or otherwise, rely on the messaging platform for quick check-ins and themed chats. In February, Paige even wrote a deep-dive feature on how people in the tech industry use it for networking, hiring and to find community. (How exceedingly timely it would turn out to be.)
It’s not and will never be the same as in-person interaction. But something I’ve especially appreciated in the past few months has been our near-daily get-to-know-you prompts in the #general channel. Someone — usually Technically Media’s operations coordinator, Na’Tosha, who never fails to bring the joy — poses an open-ended question in the morning, and by the afternoon, at least a handful of us have shared a fun fact or personal story in response. It’s a simple, quick and effective way of keeping us all in touch, outside of meetings and other work-related conversation. Sharing parts of ourselves, even virtually, emphasizes that we’re humans before professionals.
Your workplace might do a version of this. Below are some of my favorites from the past few months; maybe they’ll help your team stay close, too.
~Just for fun~
- What song are you jamming to today? Let’s make a playlist.
- Do you identify with your astrological sign?
- What fictional family would you love to be a member of?
- What would be harder for you to give up: coffee or sugar?
- Drop a few emojis that express your current mood!
- How would you spend a million dollars in 24 hours?
- What movie do you find yourself watching over and over?
- Name your top three breakfast cereals of all time.
- If you could interview anyone (let’s say the person has to be alive), who is it and what it something you wanna ask?
- Name three positive things that have happened in your life or in general this year.
- What is something you’re looking forward to as we approach the end of a VERY intense year?
- What single event did the most to change the way you see the world?
- If you could tell your teenage self anything right now, what would you say?
- Looking back, what do you admire most about your childhood self?
- If you celebrated growing up, what was your best Halloween costume ever?
- What [season] activities have you all been doing, or do you plan to do, this month?
- What was everyone’s most memorable birthday?
- What’s the best gift you’ve given or gotten recently?
- Where in the world are you going to travel in 2021 (or 2022, we’ll see)?
- If given the opportunity to be the boss for a day, which is the first thing you would do?
- It’s X’s birthday! What’s your favorite memory of them?
- Traditionally, we’ve done all-staff potlucks for Thanksgiving and our big in-person December All Team Day. What are some ideas we might incorporate to try to keep them feeling special, even if we’ll be all virtual?
- What’s something you’re looking forward to professionally this week? Something interesting or otherwise enjoyable on the work schedule?
- People are trying to adjust to the “new norm” of things, especially virtual school and work. I can’t help but to think how unprepared we all actually were for this year’s wild events. What skill do you think everyone should have no matter what?
- About to make my lunch but already thinking about dinner. What’s everyone’s go-to/fave quarantine takeout?
- I’m looking to perfect the art of the sunny-side-up egg. Anyone else picking up some life skills or perfecting something right now?
- Weird quarantine purchases?
I’d love to hear how your team is keeping in touch during the pandemic. Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.-30-