Those who know us best can tell you that our team thrives on working closely with one another, which is why it surprised me just how well we adapted to the new normal thrust upon us by COVID. Before the pandemic, we would get to our office in Nomad (by the Flatiron building in Manhattan) by 9 am and spend the entire today together up until we left in the evening. We ate lunch, took coffee breaks, and stretched our legs in Madison Square Park together. Some of our most creative moments happened as we took a break from customer calls and product planning to take a stroll and think more broadly about the problems we're solving.
These days we're scattered around the U.S., which makes spontaneous creativity and idea cross-pollination more difficult but certainly not impossible. Here are a couple of things our team does on a regular basis to stay connected and make sure we keep our energy high, relationship strong, and sanity intact.
- Impromptu Zoom Summoning. When the pandemic first started, it was fairly common for us to plan our Zoom meetings for a specific time. About a week or two into social distancing and remote work, we integrated Zoom with Slack so that these days asking somebody to join Zoom is a quick as typing in the Zoom command (/Zoom) and sending a quick alert (@Name). This way, all of us know that anyone else on the team is always no more than 30 second away. In addition to impromptu zoom summoning, we also often just keep Zoom on in the background and work on our own tasks so that if anyone has a thought or idea they can just pipe up and let the group know on the spot.
- Weekly Catan Game. Launching a company is not easy and the pressure is often very high. When we were working together in Nomad, we'd spend at least some time each day catching up on things that have nothing to do with work. Since that is not an option for us these days, we make sure to carve out time each week to do something fun together. In our case, since we all love Catan, we have a weekly game (or two) to take our mind off of work in a social setting.
- Happy Hours. None of use are big drinkers but every once in a while we'll have a Zoom happy hour to chat about whats going on and make sure we're all taking care of our mental and physical wellbeing. Luckily our team is not so big that it turns into a panel-type discussion in which 2 or 3 people lead a conversation with 20+ listeners (which is what I understand larger Zoom happy hours often turn into).
- Hacker House. Toward the end of this summer, our team is renting a house in Michigan (where Tomer is based with his wife and daughter during the pandemic) for 5 weeks so that we can work together in the same place and get some much-needed human interaction. After all, as much as impromptu Zoom summoning, Catan and happy hours are fun and keep us sane, nothing rivals being in the same place together!
We're curious how other teams are staying close during COVID. Drop us a line on Twitter @FeatherDocs! Stay safe, sane, and energetic!