The list of benefits of remote work is extensive. However, we cannot ignore the challenges that come with this opportunity. Due to distance, some of these challenges can be isolation and lack of team cohesiveness. To maintain unity, we require a new mindset that addresses the realities of this hybrid model, whose implementation gets intensified by the pandemic and is here to stay.
In addition to regular work and meetings of all kinds, this hybrid attendance model impacts the cultural activities of the company. Since these past pandemic years, distance and the intervention of technological means have marked company celebrations and parties. At the moment, we are trying to figure out how to enjoy a virtual event even when we experience the following:
• Static members in front of a device, seen through a window
• Need of Internet for connectivity
• Physical distance, virtual “closeness”
• Emotional disconnection
From a traditional perspective, unity depended on us being in the same place, simultaneously, and with the same purpose. Before, a meeting place referred to a material point (the office, the cafeteria). Now, in some cases, that place where we meet is mixed. An event takes place in the same virtual space, but the time of the day may vary depending on the time zones. While the physical attendance model uses all of our senses when we are involved in activity, the challenge of maintaining remote attention is extraordinary.
One of the possible consequences of not effectively addressing this situation could be the lack of participation in the events of mixed attendance. Suppose the remote connection feels more like an obligation rather than enthusiastically embracing this opportunity. In that case, distance can lead to disinterest, apathy, or reluctance and, at worst, even contempt for the company’s activities.
Executive leadership should pay particular attention to these circumstances. Not addressing these realities may affect the employee’s morale, and therefore, the entity’s objectives are also affected. Eventually, everyone suffers, mainly if job dissatisfaction affects individual and team performance.
Using recent celebrations as an example, we can analyze four fundamentals of a mixed attendance party: Technology, Attraction, Enthusiasm, Meaning, and Integration.
• Make sure the technology infrastructure is adequate and reliable. Acumenian is constantly investing and experimenting with new interaction and connection technology
• Have technical support available. In our most recent celebration, our IT team colleague was always ready to give support to make everything work.
•If you have special guests, make sure they master the technology. It was evident that guests dominated the technological medium while leading us in a fun activity.
• Gifts can greatly show appreciation. Use gifts strategically as part of the activity. Make it easy for participants by considering mailing gifts if it is onerous for them to go personally to get it or if the distance calls for it. Our members received a fine gift to use during the Christmas and Anniversary party (Naviversary). In Acumenian, they were allowed to pick up their gifts and materials for the activity. They sent everything to distance, even with the challenge that some materials needed refrigeration. We spare no effort to make them feel appreciated.
• If possible, create a volunteer team of employees to handle creative development and execution events.
• Make your event “cool” and integrate fun and games as part of the event. Good humor is a great ingredient to maintain a positive and attractive atmosphere. In Acumenian, we created Team W.E.P.A. (Work Events and Pachanga Advisory). They developed the Naviversary concept, which combined the holiday’s celebration with the company’s anniversary.
• Involve the members in the creative process, development, and execution of the event, so they participate and be part of the results. For our Naviversary event, we asked the members to record two videos, and some participated in delivering the gifts. For the activity, we appointed a moderator and a game coordinator.
• Never forget that we are human. Take this opportunity to recognize the true importance of working together. Please take a brief moment to reflect on the feelings we experienced together. Be authentic; every company has its human qualities. A video of team members echoing his message surprised our president, even with a surprise message from his family.
Simultaneous and interactive participation is crucial so that we are together in the same “place,” simultaneously, and with the same objective. Ensure that participants are not just observers but that the program provides a variety of collective activities, considering both physically present and those connected remotely. In the past Acumenian event, we had a variety of activities that allowed us all to get together in the creation of several Cocktails, in addition to several light games and raffles.
The result of these strategies made our Naviversary an event that participants will talk about for a long time. More than 90% of the members were satisfied, with a good impression and a desire to repeat the activity.
Following these recommendations, mixed, face-to-face, and virtual events can have an extraordinary impact on the members’ morale and cohesion.
Acumenian, L.L.C. is a technology-driven management advisory firm. With offices in Puerto Rico and southern Florida, we provide services that impact the performance of our clients throughout the world.