How vHappy Hour and Microsoft Teams Helps the Nexigen Team Stay Connected
Oct 09, 2020
When Nexigen made the transition to Work-From-Home from our traditional centralized office approach, we knew from the outset that internal communication would be the number one challenge. It was not until we had been working from home that we realized that we were also missing the face-to-face interaction with our teammates and friends.
As a pretty tight-knit team, we tend to attract and retain people who work well with others and insist on collaboration and interaction inside and outside of normal work hours. The old adage of “work together, play together”, certainly holds true at Nexigen and we knew we needed to get creative and look for ways to bring our people back together in ways that were more comfortable and intimate than what could be gained from emails, text chat and phone calls.
Fortunately, our sales team is pretty tech-savvy, too, so we started experimenting with what we called “vHappy Hours” on a weekly basis. Leveraging our existing Microsoft Teams subscriptions, webcams and a common desire to hang out together again, we scheduled our first vHappy Hour in late March and have continued to meet every week or so since then.
To make sure the focus stays on catching up and enjoying each other’s company, our vHappy Hours only have a few simple rules: 1) everyone has to have their video on if they have a camera (this was for fun at first, when our normally snappily-groomed team was looking pretty shaggy due to hair salons and barbers all being closed), and 2) no shop talk after the first five or ten minutes of the call, unless it was to share a funny anecdote or story. Adult beverages and the like were completely optional (a few folks prefer to stick with water, soda, or the like), but, occasionally, the discussion would shift to the latest craft-beer that someone had sampled or what bourbon or scotch happened to be on our shelves. From there, one could expect a “typical” after-hours conversation with subjects ranging from how everyone’s children were faring or where we would venture for a weekend away when it was finally safe to do so.
Soon, the rest of the company had heard of what the Sales team was up to and wanted to take a swing at doing the same. Since then, we have had as many as fifty people participating in a free-for-all public chat, playing online poker and at least one trivia night to note a few. The engagement and feedback continues to be great, even as we’re more than seven months into our work from home arrangement and these events are taking place every two or three weeks for the entire company with individual departments and smaller groups gathering more often.
Taking a chance and introducing a virtual option to what used to be an in-person and informal tradition has been a boon to morale and camaraderie. The impromptu office banter that requires so much effort when working remotely now has an opportunity to rise back up and do what it does best: build and strengthen relationships while providing an outlet for communication and interaction. As a bonus, the entire organization has an opportunity to explore features and function in what has become a core internal toolset, while making them strong advocates for the technology both inside and outside of Nexigen.
In the tech world, the term “eating your own dog food” refers to when companies use the products and services that they create or sell. This is an excellent example of this, as nearly everyone at Nexigen uses the Microsoft Teams product and has become not only reliant on it, but fond of it, as well. It is not uncommon for a participant to pipe up about a new feature they discovered in the app or a tip for using an existing feature in a better way.
So, while taking happy hour virtual is not a perfect replacement for face-to-face interaction, it has helped to fill some of the interaction void that can exist for remote and hybrid-remote workers. Give it a try and see what a vHappy Hour can do for your team.