Community without an office? You bet!
When most everyone on your team lives in different cities, if not countries, and there is no water cooler to facilitate casual conversations, how do you build community?
We at Corevist have been wrestling with this question since our formation in 2008. Many of the techniques and tools that we’ve adopted are familiar to the growing legion of “telecommuters” who, by the way, are predicted by Forrester Research to number 43% of the US workforce by the end of 2016. So I guess we’re not alone.
We have daily standup meetings and any number of technology assisted meetings throughout the week. We’re big fans of slack to help us keep our channels of communication open and minimize our use of email. We’ve got all sorts of online tools to keep us all in sync, track our time and working towards our common goal of being the best provider of B2B eCommerce software and services in the entire SAP ecosystem. But there is one particular meeting that I host on a weekly basis that has proven to be the “go to” place where we uniquely foster community and sustain our open and passionate culture that I’d like to share with you today, we call it our “Corevist Weekly”.
The mechanics of the Corevist Weekly are simple.
It’s a mandatory, all hands on deck, 1 hour long video conference call (we use Google Hangouts) where we each in turn describe a single experience of the week that could be dubbed our “moment of the week”. Two rules of etiquette that we’ve instituted of late is that video-cams must be on (it makes the meeting more personable) and it’s a multi-tasking free meeting (an endangered species). The last person to show up to the meeting is the first to share their moment of the week, and when they’re done, they pass the “talking stick” to whomever they wish. Each person usually takes between 2-4 minutes for their moment. That usually leaves us some time at the end of the Corevist Weekly for me to not only share my moment of the week but to pass on any other corporate information or bits of wisdom that people might be interested in. At the moment, we’re small enough to accommodate all of our Executives and senior leaders in on this weekly call. I’m not sure how this will scale up when we double in size, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
So what makes a “moment of the week”?
There is no set answer to that and it is a very individual experience…which is the whole point of sharing them.
It’s fascinating, to at least once a week for an hour, to get out of our own heads and see the company from our colleagues cross-organizational perspectives.
It’s always an educational experience to hear about things that our developers are celebrating or are struggling with. Hearing about all of the new companies that we’re starting to work with, and what their unique business and technical challenges are, is stimulating for everyone. Hearing about the victories and defeats of our project managers is a great way to share best practices, or avoid worst practices in the future. We love hearing about new contract signings. But not every moment of the week has to be a high five moment. Nor does it have to be a low point of the week…although it could be because we’re all human and that’s our reality. Sometimes, we just have average weeks. But there is always a Corevist moment. It could be a phone conversation that made you laugh. A new discovery that you made that makes your life a bit easier at work. Time that you spent reading a thought provoking article. A nagging problem that you’ve been struggling with for days that you finally cracked the code on. A random act of kindness that you bestowed on a client or prospect. A shared collaborative experience with one of your colleagues.
Everyone has to have at least one Corevist moment every week that is uniquely provided to them because they work at Corevist. The only exception is if they went on vacation that week. If you’re at work, and not asleep at your desk, something of note had to have happened that week.
Something. Big or small. Good or bad. Something of note had to have happened that you can share.
Of late, I must confess, that we’ve had a rash of “I didn’t have a moment this week” proclamations. Which got me to thinking, is that even possible? Can you actually go a week at work without something of note happening? Aside from that being a sad situation, here is what I think is going on:
- We’re trying to think of our moments of the week during the Corevist weekly meeting.
- That’s a bad idea since that means we’re not listening to our colleagues. Our Corevist Weekly’s aren’t a surprise. Keep a running list of candidate moments during the week and 5 minutes before the meeting all you have to do is select the one you want to share. That beats having to run through your busy week in your head while under the stress of having to “come up with something”.
- We’re getting caught up in the escalating war of “my moment is better than yours” which means unless I have a moment that can be inscribed in the Corevist Weekly hall of fame, I have nothing to share.
- That’s a bad idea because working at Corevist isn’t a sprint to glory but a marathon experience worth relishing over time. The big successes are made up of many small acts, all of which are executed with mindfulness. Stopping to smell the roses, watch the sunset and savor the taste of your favorite treat are moments you should make time for. Their equivalent exists at work.
- We’re judging our own moments to be not worthy. That’s related to the escalating war problem. Getting a programming task to do what you’ve been struggling for it to do is just as important to you as closing a deal is to the salesperson. Both are important to Corevist. We value diversity in the workplace, and that isn’t just about race, religion, gender or politics but interests, skills and expertise as well. Besides, if we can’t brag about our accomplishments to each other, who can we brag to?
- We’re too busy to think of a Corevist moment. Too busy to spend time with your kids? Too busy to eat well and exercise? Too busy to volunteer in your community? Sharing a Corevist moment is as important to the growth of the company and it’s culture as those other activities are to your physical, spiritual and psychological health. Make the time at first and then you’ll ask yourself how you ever lived without it.
The Corevist Moment of the week spawned from a weekly Friday night ritual that I have celebrated with my wife for the better part of our 24 years together. Somewhere around “happy hour” we begin to transition ourselves from the week that was to the weekend that will be. With glasses of wine in hand, we calmly and attentively, share our moments of the week. It’s our way of being in the moment with each other and truly listening and hearing about how our past week’s journey on this planet was for the both of us. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, sometimes both. It’s a way to anchor ourselves back to our humanity in the midst of all the activities, challenges and distractions that we’re relentlessly bombarded with.
That’s my intent for our Corevist Moments of the week. To remind us that we’re not building a company who is solely defined by our P&L and Balance Sheet. We’re building a community together and none of us can do it alone. We share our moments of the week in hopes of building those shared experiences that can not only inform our growth but emphasize our collective journeys.