Our team values face-to-face communication. All our calls are video-on wherever possible. We don’t prioritise concern for appearance over seeing expressions, mannerisms, movement.
Our Christmas party is no exception to the video-on rule. This year our numbers grew with Maddy Dunn, Helen Blunden, Benjamin Elias, Athanasia Price. The Brisbane team met together and this year Helen, John Tropea, Benjamin, Sonia Carroll and I joined remotely via a Microsoft Teams call. Teams displays the three most recently active speakers on screen, with a preview of yourself in the bottom corner.
Jeff Bell jokingly said that I was probably the only one in the restaurant. The great thing about using my mobile was it was easy to flip the camera and pan around the room to show how busy the restaurant was getting. Yes, I could have felt self conscious about having dinner with a phone on a tripod. But I’ve done this before. I’m focused on my team on the otherside of the call.
We added another experience to our party this year, using Microsoft Whiteboard. Maddy shared a Whiteboard with a table. We had to note one thing for each category, Wins, F&%k-ups, Lessons and Thank-yous. Those of us joining remotely had the Whiteboard app installed on our Surface’s and I used it from my iPhone. We spent 10min noting our thoughts in a mix of ink, pictures and sticky-notes. Then gave each person time to share their reflections with the team. It was a simple exercise, but one that invited openess and honesty amidst the celebration. Maddy shared her screen to present the reflections as we talked through them. This was preferable to viewing the synced Whiteboard while people reflected. It meant I could see the active speaker. If I couldn’t see the content, I could pinch-zoom the desktop from my mobile.
Our remote Christmas party is a simple experience. But it’s impact is great. It let each team member know they are important and included them in the celebration. Sure, it’s not an elegant and expensive dinner with full command of the atmosphere. However, for a remote worker, inclusion is more valuable than a restaurant voucher and an intranet page full of photos of the rest of the company attending an expensive event.
Include your remote workers in your celebrations. It can be as simple as a well-charged mobile phone on a mobile tripod. With a little more effort, you could set up a few video call booths at an event.
Make a bigger effort this holiday season. #EmployeeEngagement #Inclusion