COVID-19 Question of the Day 3 - What are you doing to promote engagement, wellness, and team spirit during this period of physical distancing?

By ILTA Membership posted 03-25-2020 13:53

Dear ILTAns!

Last week, we introduced an initiative called the COVID-19 Question of the Day (QoD). These questions were developed based on content covered in our COVID-19 Global Roundtable and harvested from our eGroups. To provide you with quick access to all of the answers received on our QoD postings, we have aggregated the answers to each question into a blog post. We will also post summary documents in the Resource Library for the Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity and Open Public Forum Communities of Interest. Also, be on the lookout for a virtual roundtable coming soon where we explore each of the QoDs in more detail!

  • Many respondent firms are creating social opportunities for their employees to socialize with one another. Some of the innovative ideas included:
    • Virtual happy hours or coffee breaks
    • Virtual water coolers (see the discussion on the caveats of this at the bottom of the blog)
    • Trivia with
    • Book club or movie club
  • Some respondent firms are giving users training opportunities (group and one-on-one) to maximize their downtime
  • Respondent firms are using their technology (Teams, Slack, Zoom, etc.) to help teams work and stay engaged in this unusual time
  • Phone calls are becoming more prevalent than they were in the past
How are you helping people not to feel isolated while in a Shelter-in-Place (SIP) or Work from Home (WFH) situation?
  • All the staff are emailing each other what our homework desk areas look like; or special recipes, or views from the front window (for some in the country!).....
  • HR is working on a Work from Home tips (see this week’s Tip of the Day)
  • We are doing many phone calls / conference calls for practice group teams - all attorneys and staff on each of those calls;
  • There are lots of individual phone calls instead of just emails.
  • I held a virtual happy hour with my team last Friday afternoon via MSFT Teams. Each person talked about an item that they cared about. A virtual show and tell. We saw rare baseball cards, kids, a robot dog, vintage video games, signed music stuff, etc.
  • Reaching out and connecting by phone (more) and video. Letting them know they are not alone.
  • We are creating virtual happy hours couple of times a week for anyone that can join. Bring a drink and talk about anything except work. We like to hear about their challenges at home, family, how we can help, etc.
  • We created a channel in our team's Team site called Water Cooler Chat so we can just share information, photos of our homes, kids, sending photos of what their outside views look like at the moment, etc.
  • If you want to take virtual breaks a bit further with family/coworkers/friends, set up a virtual trivia game using Kahoot or the like. Free up to 10 players.
  • We will later this week create a Teams meeting to bring all employee's kids together and have some remote fun topics to discuss with them.
  • I love this question. Our company has always been half remote and very good at including everyone.  But now that everyone is remote, we have bumped up our engagements due to the situation.  Multiple teams are using their collaboration/conferencing tools to create a touch point each day - we call it "watercooler".  It gives everyone a safe space to talk about anything on their minds and the team the opportunity to pick us up.
  • Virtual crossword coffee break
  • Inviting our people to send in photos of their home offices or new temp work digs for those who don't usually work from home.  Marketing will be putting together a video collage for posting to our intranet.
  • Volunteers are doing a "day in the life" blogs (once a week) of what they are doing, seeing, thinking.
  • Our disaster recovery buddy system is in play - calling/emailing/facetiming/texting to see if all is well.
  • They did a watch party this past weekend for Self Made on Netflix.
  • From hosting virtual happy hours to themed “spirit week” meetings and daily leadership check-ins, we’re committed to activities that help ensure our team feels connected while staying safe and productive to ensure world-class service to our customers.
What are you doing to assist personnel with general anxiety and concerns around the world situation?
  • Trying to make them laugh at the small things. Sending humorous cartoons and MEMEs.
  • We ensure flexibility for meetings for all employees so they can take care of their families first. There's quiet hours each day (morning and lunch time) where we don't have meetings scheduled. Gives us good peace of mind and an opportunity to connect with family.
  • A lot of resources on handling the stresses of working from home (and caring for their family) are also appearing daily on the page.
How are you keeping your team engaged?
  • Daily check-ins using Jabber group.
  • Weekly conference calls with the entire firm where our Chairman, CEO, CIO and others talk to us about the state of the firm and of each office, give updates, field questions.
  • There was a photo contest for best view from the office and there is a daily question that you can answer.
  • We are offering at least one training session a day, sometimes two. Most are related to connection software (Webex, Jabber, etc.). Schedule goes out every Monday.
  • We gave them a way to sign up for 1-to-1 training.
  • There has been a lot of communication from upper management to make them feel included in the decisions.
  • We encourage connection and creativity among our employees.
  • Engaging employees with WFH wellness challenges, hosting virtual happy hours, encouraging recognition via @motivosity
    & connecting in WFH hobby groups. Our teams have adjusted quickly continuing to deliver a world-class service to our world-wide customers.
How can we keep "physical distancing" from creating "social distancing"?
  • I am still working on a bunch of ideas with our Marketing Dept. It is all so new and many are still trying to get their bearings.
  • We're doing virtual "coffee breaks" and "happy hours", virtual walks (call and talk while walking outside) in the mornings and evenings with co-workers, sharing pictures of family, home improvement projects, etc., have our webcams on for all meetings, and using Teams more than ever for engagement.
  • We've made all our meetings are on video so that brings in the social aspect creating team spirit. One of our team managers suggested reading an inspirational book and gathering the team weekly to talk about certain chapters.  Negativity only makes the situation worse.  So remaining positive is very critical at this time.  Being positive gets things done.
  • I was invited to attend a distance movie viewing party. Netflix has something that allows you to do this If you don't all have the same app/medium, pick a television show of mutual interest.
  • Another thing I'm doing with some friends is that we've joined the 3-month free Peloton app which has live and recorded meditations, yoga, etc. We join the same classes and then talk about it afterward.
  • Book Club – I'm in a group re-read and discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Our Marketing Department put together a SharePoint page. It has an area for firm members to post and reply to fun message threads.
Water Cooler Chat Concerns
  • We've been thinking about the "Water Cooler" channel in Teams, but there's some concern about having to police the content. Whether it's misinformation/rumors about the pandemic, political diatribes, off-color humor ... there are so many ways a well-intentioned resource like this could cause problems, even among people who you think would know better. For those of you who are putting up these non-work-related resources, or who have had resources like this dating back to the pre-pandemic era, how are you addressing these concerns?
    • What they add in the chat is hard to control but communication, rules, etc. will help. You can also disable things like GIFY, etc. There is also a content filtering option.
    • We haven't placed any formal boundaries around what a person can or cannot post. We embrace the humor, GIGS and emojis.  We're like a family, so friendly and fun is just our culture. We haven't had any problems with inappropriate content, everyone is very tasteful and respectful in what they post.  We are using the WiKi feature to document and share policy and procedure. As for information that may be incorrect in a chat, others can reply in the thread and redirect. It's a great way to uncover misconceptions and ensure everyone is on the same page. Like Wikipedia, it's governed by your peers.
    • Pretty sure we're all adults. We don't worry about stuff like this. This isn't a technology issue, it is a people issue.
    • It's not a technology issue, it's a legal technology issue. :) My bosses are well trained to consider worst-case scenarios and to assume that people will not always do the right thing, no matter how well-meaning they are. And while it's primarily a people issue, it also has a bit of "attractive nuisance" to it.
    • My thought was that we could create a channel in Teams and announce its creation with the usual admonition of "if you would be embarrassed to see it on the front page of the New York Times, don't post it." We already have an Acceptable Use / Acceptable Conduct policy (or at least an equivalent), so I think we'd have some recourse if someone really went off the rails. But the policy says that you're only supposed to use Firm resources for Firm business, and here we are encouraging people to use a Firm resource for stuff that is at best indirectly related to Firm business (as a morale booster). Yes, probably worried about nothing here, but like I said, that's what a lot of lawyers spend most of their time doing.
    • That's a fantastic question and one we've just been discussing! Not only about being isolated but when one (I use that to be me!) is used to socialising being constrained is emotionally difficult as well as physically.  Not sure what we are going to do as I think introducing another solution to the many we already have open is difficult (ie do we start to promote Teams when all around are already using Chat solutions).  I know LinkedIn isn't the solution as it is for more professional discussions and Facebook not professional enough - but a happy medium for internal communication would be great - somewhere we can post our "WfH" scenarios - silly attire, general chit-chat.  I will be watching solutions closely to see if we can adopt from anyone more creative.

Comments from COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable on March 26, 2020

  • We have walk and talk meetings (fresh air, exercise and social 'water cooler' moments) via Skype for Business

  • Check in's with team members, Skype meetings and Skype happy hours

  • Also have virtual coffee, end of day catch ups with cross team groups, over a glass of wine, cup of tea, whatever

  • My team has a virtual coffee break via Skype every morning

  • Daily Teams video chats just to catch up

  • What’s App group chat

  • We are using Zoom for DAILY team meetings each morning

  • I told my team to give themselves a break and not to work themselves harder than any boss would.

  • We are using Webex Teams.

  • Virtual happy hours, trivia contests via email

  • We have weekly mood elevation hour with beer and wine on Thursday afternoons - we are doing this virtually now on Skype

  • Yammer has suggestions for online things to do, from home schooling sites, exercise sessions, to online choirs, etc.

  • Daily Zoom meetings for our IT team

  • Yesterday, we submitted pics of our WFH situation and made a slide show of it

  • I have daily touch point meetings with my management team using WebEx Meetings, and last night we did a virtual happy hour at the end of the work day.

  • Training

  • Give staff downtime to do their own thing and recharge. They need to take leave during this time, too.

  • LinkedIn opened work from home training, now free.

  • Team Spirit - We did a "Throwback Wednesday" email and folks shared old photos of themselves. Very Funny!

  • We have weekly online  team "happy hours."

  • Our corporate Book Club is meeting virtually now.

  • We're doing TBT today, we have AM and PM BreakTimes.

  • Thirsty Thursday for us!

  • Training has been on an "as needed basis" but via phone and PDF handouts.   Our LMS system can’t be utilized right now because our servers can’t handle the graphics of the video and web service.  Has made it a bit challenging from a training standpoint.

  • I am providing all kinds of creative professional development ideas--webinars, things to read, podcasts to listen to, etc.

  • Per poll - we are continuing our normal webinar schedule, and have added numerous "working remotely" topics.  Plus, sending a Tip of the Day via email for working remotely.

  • Mel Robbins is broadcasting daily on various platforms -- tips on how to navigate this time.  I really like her.

  • For some meetings, to lighten the mood, we're considering changing profile pic to something more relaxed, e.g. favorite holiday pic, baby pics, etc.

  • Some groups taking this as an opportunity to get more technical training, some providers are offering more free content.  I am recording an internal podcast, not sure who is listening.

  • I heard that the son of one CEO has run an online creche for staff's children while the business meeting was running.

  • Yes, humor!

  • Humor, humor, humor!

  • Once things settle down a bit after this week, we'll push more "regular" content from a training perspective.

  • Our office is doing Yoga on Fridays via Zoom.

  • Yes, there needs to be a re-balance of workload.

  • We've had no fun.

  • We're encouraging staff to do something different in terms of training, e.g. learn a new language.

  • Working for a federal bank- we are re-balancing and shifting workloads like crazy to figure out all the changes the government is pushing out. It has been crazy!

  • Yes, lots more attending training.

  • Local bandwidth is an issue around staff frustration for keeping in touch and doing work. It's affected by the high volume of people working at home and children no longer in school streaming (whether for schoolwork or leisure). Households need to share bandwidth, too. Relationships may become strained, especially with children, teens, etc. Need to take account of this.

  • Have found that attorneys are sick of videos.  They want QRGs!

  • We have themes for our daily Zoom virtual backgrounds -- mine are '80s movies, if you can tell.
  • We've been doing training by Skype for over a year, so nothing has changed for us.
  • We received the following email:   Tomorrow is the last Friday of the month and therefore a dress down day. Feel free to wear your pajamas in your remote offices.

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