My brother-in-law is a Rabbi. Two weeks ago, he held a zoom meeting with his team to update everyone on policies, protocols and how they were going to proceed in light of the coronavirus. They all did the work they needed to do, but also connected on a human level, sharing their feelings, making themselves vulnerable.
At the end of the call, he wondered to himself: Why didn’t we do this before?
I’ve been asking myself the same question.
In my career as a speaker and author, I talk a lot to companies about finding the “sweet spot” between tech and connect. How do we leverage all that’s great about technology, but also put technology “in its place” and connect face to face, on a deeper level? Overnight, connecting face to face was taken off the table, so, like my brother-in-law, many of us turned to our technology.
Yes, we got our work done, made contingency plans for our business, and held critical meetings. But we also turned to our technology to help us bring our human to this new work from home reality and to deepen relationships with our colleagues, our bosses and our teams.
I knew we had it in us. I didn’t know it would take something this extreme to get there.
And in a radical turn of events, many leaders have shared with me that, unlike in past virtual meetings, where they had to press their team to turn their cameras on, this time everyone volunteered to do it, and actually had their eyes up instead of down on their devices, mindlessly scrolling.
One thing is for sure: the world has snapped to attention.
Here are a few examples of ways companies have found the sweet spot in the past week.
Heidi Zak, co-founder and co-CEO of ThirdLove, had a virtual happy hour with over 60 people in attendance. They made some announcements, had a cocktail and employees gave tours of their home bars. What a way to really get to know someone!
Every Friday at 4:30 p.m., Kntoch, a content marketing platform, has an all-employee Show and Tell. This week was no exception, even though their 46-member team was working from home. I spoke with Garrison Gibson, head of people, who added time at the end of the Show and Tell for Ask Anda (the CEO) Anything. This is a wonderful way to show your team you get it.
I received this note from Aimée Woodall, president and founder of the Houston-based creative firm, Black Sheep Agency: “What STRANGE times we’re living in. I was thinking about you this week as we spent our first week working from home, all 18 of us, and decidedly adapting our rituals for this new way of life. We had #ChampagneFriday virtually today… we were celebrating surviving this week and all that came with it.” We all deserve a toast in our honor for getting through these weeks.
I wonder, when we get back to our “new normal” (whatever that may be), will we be able to hold onto some of this humanity at work? Will we remember how to use our technology as a life-line instead of as an attention-grabber?
Why didn’t we do this before? Were we too busy? Were we too distracted? Maybe we didn’t feel like it? Whatever the answer, I for one, am rooting for us and hope that we don’t turn back.
Erica Keswin is a bestselling author, internationally sought-after speaker, and founder of the Spaghetti Project, a roving ritual devoted to sharing the science and stories of relationships at work. Her book, Bring Your Human to Work, was published in 2018 by McGraw-Hill. Her next book, Rituals Roadmap, will be published by McGraw-Hill in January, 2021.
This appeared in Katie Couric’s Wake-Up Call newsletter. Subscribe here.