Staying connected has never been more important. But not just in our social circles. With so many of us working from home, it can be hard to keep the morale and creativity up within a company or team. Sure, we can move meetings and calls to a virtual platform like Zoom, but what about the ‘water cooler talks’ and office banter?
Having a positive, culture-focused work environment is an important part of Bellmont Partners as a company – we were recently named to Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces list for the second year in a row because of it.
Here we wanted to share a few of the things that keep connectivity and collaboration high at Bellmont Partners, even when we can’t physically be in the same conference rooms:
- Keep consistent meetings on the books. One of our new 2020 team initiatives was to have a standing (literally) Monday morning meeting with the entire team. We implemented this well before COVID-19 sent us all home, and it’s one of the things we’ve prioritized maintaining, although now it’s virtual. These were meant to be a quick check-in for each team member to share their top priorities for the week, see if anyone is looking for help on a project or if anyone was expecting some extra bandwidth during the week. It’s hard to know who may need a hand or who has an extra hand to give when you’re not in the office, but these weekly touch bases give a way to do just that. “It’s also a good time for quick ‘how was your weekend?’ updates that we’d usually talk about Monday morning in the office,” Account Supervisor Megan Anderson points out.
Additionally, every Wednesday at Bellmont Partners now ends with a virtual happy hour. These are by no means required, but a common highlight, featuring a favorite beverage of choice along with frequent appearances from beloved children and pets – and as of this week, a visit from ALPACAS! “Our virtual happy hours are a great way to connect with whomever can make it and catch up on life during this strange time outside of work. I look forward to it every week!,” says Partner Shelli Lissick.
- Check in on one another. Working from home every day can be draining, and you may find yourself or your colleagues more easily disengaged. On a regular basis, check in with your fellow team members and direct reports about more than just the tasks at hand. First of all, see how they are doing – how are they really “Our BP family has been doing a great job of this through 1:1 meetings with managers, practice group team huddles, staff meetings, one-off calls from a colleague and more,” says Senior Account Executive Sara Grasmon.
“Take time to ask employees their dream projects, new ideas or upcoming initiatives they’re excited about,” adds Senior Account Executive Johanna Holub. “Understanding what we’re each passionate about can help determine if there are new opportunities to look into and keep everyone engaged and creative, even when we’re physically apart.
- Ensure everyone is involved. “At Bellmont Partners, a senior leader does not always run the meeting. Often times, they don’t. Seeing our senior leaders share responsibility by allowing employees to head up various initiatives from leading team meetings, to practices groups and beyond creates a culture of pride and shared ownership,” Senior Account Executive Michelle Cook points out. Furthermore, team members are often included in the big-picture planning and dreaming for Bellmont Partners as a whole, ensuring we all have our voices heard and can help shape the direction the company goes.
Another way we make sure everyone feels engaged is by having lunch dates with Brian and Jen Bellmont. Team members take turns going out to lunch (or Zooming) with Brian and Jen to talk – about life, goals, ideas and beyond. This direct line to our top leadership is open around the clock, but having a dedicated time to sit down and focus on each other and the conversation is a unique way to ensure everyone has an opportunity to connect and feel encouraged to share their thoughts.
- Be a cheerleader. Use this time apart to really learn to support each other. For those looking to fill newly found time, provide opportunities for staff to grow individually and collectively. Whether it’s continued education courses, webinars, taking a deep dive into all the functions of Zoom – make sure that team members don’t feel stagnant and are encouraged to learn new things, if they have capacity and desire to do so.
Knowing the added stress many are under, consider ways to throw kudos and compliments around like confetti, and be mindful of language that affirms teamwork. “I’ve learned to replace ‘I’ with ‘we,’” says Senior Account Executive Kalli Plump. “In part because that’s the prevailing culture at Bellmont Partners, but also because the projects I work on here are always so collaborative – everyone is touching it at some point whether it’s drafting, reviewing, pitching, etc.” Encouraging “we” culture and language is critical.
- Have a way for employees to communicate beyond email. Many companies and teams have platforms for communication outside of email. Some use Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business. We at Bellmont Partners use Glip, through Ring Central. You can create office-wide team conversations or smaller teams to more easily share ideas and brainstorm. This more relaxed format invites casual conversation and – perhaps most interesting to us – GIFs and memes! As President Brian Bellmont says, “I truly think our Glip use has evolved into a common private language of sorts – that’s pretty cool.” And you just never know when a cat GIF will suddenly be the thing that brings everyone a genuine smile.
We’re always looking for new ideas to strengthen our internal communications. We’d be interested to hear what you’re enjoying and would recommend, or we’re happy to discuss how these practices are working for us and how you might be able to incorporate them into your business. If you’d like to connect, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to chat!