BARR Advisory has been remote since its founding, which means we know a thing or two about building remote relationships across our growing number of associates. As more organizations are taking advantage of remote tools than ever before, we want to share our knowledge with the world—AKA you!
Here are five ideas to implement at your company to build a connected culture.
- Institute a work buddy program.
Ours is called the BARR Buddy program. We define a buddy as someone who partners with a new associate during their first two months of employment. While primarily responsible for offering advice and guidance regarding the day-to-day aspects of working at BARR, the buddy may also offer encouragement and resources as they help introduce the new associate to the BARR culture. Associates must apply to become a BARR Buddy, so it’s recognized as a coveted role for strong leaders and mentors.
- Sprinkle in a few fun Slack channels.
Be sure to give associates a place they feel comfortable sharing things like pet photos, family milestones, travel pics, thoughts on the latest episode of Ted Lasso, and other office banter. At BARR, these include Slack channels like #water-cooler-chat, #barr-wellness, #recipeBARR, and #parentaladvisory to name a few.
- Host virtual happy hours.
Work-related meetings stack up, so add a virtual happy hour to the mix! We recommend monthly, and also highly encourage themes and games that encourage attendance and engagement. Themes can be holiday related (e.g., Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo, ugly sweater) or totally random (e.g., dress for a specific decade, promote your favorite sports team, etc.). Here are some successful activities we’ve done during our own virtual happy hours—feel free to steal a few!
- Guess that baby! Have everyone send in a baby photo and play a game to guess who is who. We like to utilize Zoom’s chat feature to see who answers correctly first for these kinds of games.
- Two truths and a lie. Have each associate submit two truths and a lie about themselves, then put together a fun slide deck asking people to guess which is the lie.
- Mixology. Have an associate demonstrate how to make fun cocktails or mocktails to the group.
- Debate. Pick a fun topic and find two associates to debate about it. For example, we recently had two associates hilariously debate whether or not Netflix’s Virgin River was worth watching. They came prepared with well thought-out talking points and it was taken very, very seriously in the best way.
- Book club. Bring the bookworms together to select a leader, a book, and let them run with it.
- Celebrate. Use this time to celebrate associate milestones, from baby showers to bridal showers, graduations or certificate completions, and more. You could also designate one happy hour each year for associate recognition awards.
- Create teaching opportunities.
Think beyond the traditional lunch and learn, and create opportunities for employees to both teach and learn about anything their hearts desire. At BARR, we call these knowledgeBARR classes. Employees sign up to lead a session, put together a slide deck, and present. We mix work-related sessions that offer CPE credits with sessions focused on associate hobbies or beloved causes. We’ve even had an outside speaker come in to present on a specific topic. Some out-of-the-box classes have focused on creative writing, the benefits of floating relaxation pods, the art of listening, and beyond. Bonus tip: Be sure to cover the cost of lunch for your associates—it definitely helps increase attendance.
- Establish a charitable foundation and plan virtual activities supporting it.
At BARR, we established the BARR Belong Foundation. The foundation exists to support charitable causes that matter deeply to our associates. Through collective efforts and contributions, our goal is to create stronger, safer, and more secure communities where our associates live and work. One example of this in action is, each October, we host a Day of Giving where some of us gather in person to give back to a charitable organization on behalf of the BARR Belong Foundation while others give back remotely in their own way to organizations close to their hearts. You can also have associates present lunch and learns focused on charities or causes they support. Be sure to plug your company’s matching gift program if applicable.