Remote Events: Finding Ways to Come Together

Aubrey Lear, Senior Employee Engagement Manager

Article Categories: #News & Culture, #Employee Engagement

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This June we made Viget history yet again, when we hosted our first-ever remote TTT.

Each spring and fall we kick off our quarterly all-hands meeting, aka TTT, with an all-staff photo. Our team, events, and our photos have evolved over the years, but the spirit in which we meet has not changed. We come together in the spirit of “progress, not perfection” knowing that “together we flourish.” This spring was no different.

Our events are usually two parts, meeting and discussion followed by a fun activity. We’ve done some pretty cool things over the years, like venturing to space and paddleboarding on the Potomac. Each year feels historic with new people on the team, new challenges to overcome, and new accomplishments to celebrate. This June we made history yet again, when we hosted our first-ever remote TTT.

We kept our conference-style format and used all of the remote tools at our disposal: meeting over Zoom, collaborating in Whimsical, and communicating on Slack. Talks were positioned throughout the day to maximize time to learn, time to rest, and time to connect. In addition to diving deep into a few of our biggest projects from the last six months, we also heard from our teammates on a variety of topics through Ignite-style presentations.

  • Liz covered a brief background on the cognitive reasons why data visualization is effective, how it's been used throughout history, and why she thinks it can change the world.
  • Margaret shared about her experience teaching middle school Family and Consumer Sciences and the lessons her students learned in cooking and collaboration.
  • Jasmine shared motivational tips on how to lean into change with grace and acceptance.
  • Matthew explored common design constraints found on almost any project, and made a case for how we can use them as a benefit, instead of as blockers.
  • Ally tried to figure out what mentors really get out of mentorship.
  • Chris taught us about lightning through hand-drawn illustrations.

Since our offices shut down in March, we’ve learned a lot of lessons about working from home during a pandemic. These lessons continue to be a common theme and involve ongoing learning. While adaptability and flexibility may be the core traits to sustained working from home resilience, the importance of connection remains Viget’s People Team’s top priority. We brought that thinking into our first ever remote TTT. So, in addition to top notch peer talks and time to reflect on our accomplishments, we invested in shared experiences. 

We invited our talented staff to share their musical talents with us via pre-recorded musical performances and, as you can imagine, they blew us away. Including Amy Townsend, whose performance of Bruno Mars’ Count on Me helped us kick off the day.

Originally intended as break opportunities to refill coffee or stretch, these musical interludes turned into can’t miss experiences. 

Art Director, Owen Shifflett, played a key role in bringing us together via a custom swag box designed to enhance both the event itself and working from home.

Boxes contained a limited edition tee, ‘remotely acceptable’ socks, an inspirational coaster, and a few other hidden surprises. We packaged each box up with custom stickers, and instructions to hold off on opening until we were all synced up.

We shipped 78 boxes to 11 states.

And we enjoyed watching the excitement and anticipation build, as teammates shared their boxes on Slack during the week leading up to TTT.

We also shipped deluxe frozen pizzas to everyone who wanted one for their TTT lunch. We preheated and cooked our pizzas on the same schedule, and while we didn't dine together, it did feel like a shared experience. We found it helpful to mix in a few rounds of bingo and a quick competitive puzzle challenge during the day, both surprises we shipped in our swag boxes. These shook up the monotony of passive Zoom content consumption and sparked a few laughs. Sharing a laugh (or a cry) is a great way to ensure folks feel connected.

We encouraged our team to make the most of the at-home all-hands by setting up their space so they could be both engaged and comfortable throughout the day. UX Research Director, Laura Sweltz, designed an ideal participant setup and what may have been the coziest remote conference experience ever.

In the end, we hosted another successful TTT, which was made possible by our team's commitment and trust to show up for one another. We kicked off the event by opening our swag boxes all together, grounding us in a memorable shared experience. One day, when we’re back in the offices and we see teammates wearing their “WFH” tees, we'll reminisce about this day, a bright spot during a hard time, and how important it was to get through it, together.

Aubrey Lear

Aubrey is Viget’s Senior Employee Engagement Manager based in our Falls Church, VA, HQ. She is an organized advocate for color coordinated calendars and closets, but most importantly she is a believer in team spirit and creative thinking.

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