Virtual All-Hands Alignment

Aubrey Lear, Senior Employee Engagement Manager

Article Categories: #News & Culture, #Employee Engagement

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A recap of our recent event and ideas for leveraging remote tools for virtual retreats.

Every year, we host the first of our four quarterly all-hands events in the winter, in a tradition we call TTT. We value setting aside quality time together to reflect, align, and think towards the future, both in-person and remotely. This winter, we met virtually and focused on alignment. We crafted our day around making sure our team was prepared to flourish together throughout the year. 

We started the day with levity. After the People Team reviewed the agenda and expectations, we collaboratively wrote short stories together, just three words at a time. We set up a collaborative document that contained a two column chart; one column contained participant names and one was left blank. We pre-filled Vigets' names in alphabetical order. Folks were instructed to navigate to the empty cell next to their name and wait their turn. The first person kicked off the writing by writing just three words. The next person followed by writing three words, and so on — until we had a complete 'story.'

The goal was to warm up, pay attention, think on your feet, and be silly. Our first story was about a three-legged pig and dragons. The second story was a confusing tale about birds and the sun. The silliness and creativity didn’t end there. We tapped two colleagues to give a dramatic reading of our finished stories – it was the icing on top of the cake. Senior UI Developer Nathan Long and Project Manager Tommy Ball wowed us with their renditions. 

After shaking the dust off and settling in, CEO, Brian Williams officially opened the day with his welcome and announcements. We start every TTT with a CEO welcome, where Brian reflects on timely topics and any pressing issues. Viget is proudly independent and we value transparency. In addition to the CEO welcome, we put these values into practice by sharing quarterly metrics during the event and through hosting a Q&A session. 

The Q&A is shaped by insights gleaned in advance through our quarterly feedback survey. The input guides our TTT conversations and informs our future planning. While input is received in advance, we also open the floor to questions. Folks are encouraged to actively participate in the conversation by raising their hand and unmuting, submitting a question via an anonymous form, or by DMing our event moderator. We get a mix of all three participation options. This is just one way we make our events inclusive. 

We also value learning and growing and teaching and sharing. We used the knowledge gained from our morning sessions to guide our two afternoon breakout sessions, the first of which was a company-wide SWOT analysis. We sought to understand our shared experiences of Viget by looking at and discussing each other’s input, ideas, and reflections. We assigned folks to semi-random small groups to work through the SWOT analysis together and collaborate with people they don’t often interact with. 

The second breakout session was longer, more collaborative, and more creative. Lexie Garcia, our recruiter and resident marketing guru, led teams (split up by discipline) in an interactive breakout where they were challenged to write, produce, shoot and polish a short industry specific video. Video production is not something we do everyday. It was a chance for individuals and teams to push themselves outside of their comfort zones and work together. All together we had thirteen teams, and each produced a quality video (in a super short amount of time!) that showed off both their relevant industry knowledge and their personalities. 

Here are just two examples:

Applause and ta-das were abundant.

Our CEO bookended the day with some closing remarks, sharing some inspiring reminders and goals for the year to come. 

After the meeting, we ended the day with a Certified Cicerone® experience. We hired the wonderful folks at Your Beer Friend to host a virtual tasting. Your Beer Friend sent each of our team members a tasting box that included either craft brews, non-alcoholic craft drinks, or gluten-free craft beverages along with a snack pairing. Participants received their packages ahead of the event and were encouraged to chill their beverages in advance for peak enjoyment. We learned about brewing techniques, the booming non-alcoholic market, and more. The session was interactive and relaxing. We laughed a lot – which is always a good sign of a well rounded event. 

The day also featured three short 15 minute breaks; one long 45 minute break; a Viget provided meal; and a fun, no stakes guessing game that featured a variety of fun Slack stats and shares. 

We believe in the importance of quality time together. When we’re virtual, we leverage digital tools to enhance the experience — like collaborative docs and FigJam boards — and virtual opportunities —like Your Beer Friend — to connect over a shared experience. Our events are designed to showcase our values and strengthen our culture, and we’re already excited and planning ahead for the next one! 

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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