Forty People. Four Cities. We were so happy to be together for two days as a team – still remote in micro-bubbles – but a welcome evolution from the early days of Covid where we were each in a home office.
A-Zoom meeting with teams in four locations made for some happy surprises, and we also discovered what to avoid. Even simple things like a loud air duct or poor room setup can interrupt the flow. Here are some of the things that worked for us – and some that didn’t.
Engagement happens when we can see each other – definitely ask everyone to have individual cameras on and muted – as well as a camera on the full team in each room. That way when anyone speaks, they can unmute, and everyone can read their facial expressions and hear their intonations, which is just as important as the content they’re sharing.
Breakouts within the different locations work well – even with a central speaker or lead for the sessions, we found that when we paused the group meeting and worked together as in-person micro teams on specific tasks, we had a lot more to share when we came back together, and we all liked the time working with people in the room.
Always. Book. Amazing. Dinners. One thing comes up every time we ask for feedback on internal events – and it is a resounding YES PLEASE to great team dinners. Everyone. Together. Whether it’s a swanky joint or a hands-on taco truck, memorable moments make the week. It’s time when we get to laugh, and eat, and leave work behind. Those shared memories (and inevitable foibles) are some of the things that keep us motivated individually, and bind us together as a team.
Plan for your time zones. It’s not easy to schedule micro teams across three time zones – but we made it work by setting one global schedule and ensuring everyone had four hours a day booked together as a complete group. That meant every city had at least a morning or afternoon free to work or spend time together. Eight-hour days online are just too much.
Pick a meaningful theme and encourage everyone to share insights. This spring our leader Doug Johnston chose Trust – how to build, maintain, and value trust between colleagues, customers, and partners. As consultants, it’s our job to build it. Nurture it. And we do that by handling every situation with honesty and strong values. Everything we talked about tied back to this theme.