Traditions & Gratitude: One way we stay connected at Viget

Aubrey Lear, Senior Employee Engagement Manager

Article Categories: #News & Culture, #Employee Engagement

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By honoring traditions and expressing gratitude we turn company values into company culture.

Two of our Viget values are "Learn and Share" and "Teach and Grow." One way we learn from each other is through a tradition called Labshare, which is a 10-12 minute presentation on something the presenter is passionate about. Nearly every week we enjoy a Labshare from a different person. The tradition lets us hear from a range of people, regardless of discipline or title or tenure, on a wide range of topics. We’ve learned about the 4D universe from Annie Kiley, representation in fantasy literature from Jackson Fox, and data privacy from Natalie Reich. These lessons almost always go beyond their catchy titles.

The original stated purpose of Labshare was to help us practice our public speaking skills. As consultants, we should be able to confidently share our ideas with clients. Organizing thoughts into a clear and concise presentation is another valuable skill. Labshares let us practice both. A side benefit has always been how it helps us get to know each other better and, often, discover shared interests.

Front-End Developer Joshua Pease recently gave a Labshare, titled Beans, Brew, Repeat, all about the daily craft of manual coffee brewing. He walked us through his coffee making process, gave a few pro tips, and spoke to the power of taking time away from the screen to do something non-digital as a daily practice. The post-Labshare Q&A lasted for nearly as long as the presentation itself, and Joshua won the very prestigious (and not real) “several people are typing” in Slack award. He also found his people. During our weekly all-hands meeting, FLF, which ends with Labshare, we have a dedicated Slack channel where running commentary and reactions supplement the IRL experience. The coffee connoisseurs raised their hands and shared their tips and when the meeting really needed to end, the coffee conversation continued in - yeah you guessed it - another Slack channel dedicated to coffee.

Back in October 2019, Mai anh Nguyen shed some light on Human Connection in her Labshare. Inspired by Mai anh, the next week Becky Radneav spun up #upliftandgratitude, a Slack channel for silver linings. In the early days there was a lot of chatter on how to stay grateful, tips on mindfulness, and sometimes cheesy truths. The discussions on human connection have been steady ever since and for many of us #upliftandgratitude has been a bright spot throughout the pandemic. Here are a few of the gratitude gems from the last year:

  • “Grateful for hot tea on a cool morning.” - Laura Sweltz

  • “I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to participate as lead on a complex project, grow as a professional and teammate, and be proud of the work we did as a team. To see that work come to fruition today, especially after some long weeks and road bumps along the way, it feels very gratifying.” - Dave Scherler

  • “I am grateful for my dog! She is my #1 fan. Always glad to see me and with such enthusiasm!” - Emily Bloom

  • “Noise-cancelling headphones.” - Elliott Munoz

  • “I am grateful for all of y'all. Everything is a lot these days, on top of trying to learn [all of the things] as quickly as I can, and it's very good to have kind teammates who help and answer questions without judgment and with patience.” - Mariel de la Garza

Gratitude ranges from the practical to the personal and each #upliftandgratitude share is a little bit of human connection. Why has this channel been so steady and impactful? I believe it’s three things: people are empowered to be brave and share, we have a space to listen to each other without needing to jump to problem-solving, and the channel was born out of peer inspiration and trust.

Looking past the public speaking practice Labshare provides, these presentations represent a lot more than a professional development opportunity. They are a chance to enact our shared values, taking something theoretical and making it concrete. They also create a space for us to connect on a deeper and more meaningful level with one another. We learn something about the presenter and their interests or hobbies. But importantly, the presenter learns something about the rest of us – that we are interested, we listen, and we care. Over time, we build on each other's ideas and connect with each other’s passions. I think this is an example of how company values turn into company culture.

I am grateful for our Viget values, for long standing traditions that foster connection, and for the inspiring teammates I have the privilege to work with.

Ready to be inspired? Or would you like to learn more about our Viget values? Check out our careers page. We’re hiring!

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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