QUARANTINI TIME: Our New Favorite Way to Be Alone, Together

What we learned from our first Virtual Happy Hour and why these after-work rituals are becoming more important than ever. 

This past week has been a time of adjustment for everyone in the work world.  Events that would normally be held in person are now done virtually.  This week I attended a Software Developer Group Demo Night which shifted from an in-person event to a Zoom meeting.  Although being in person would have been better, the Zoom meeting was exactly what I needed – another way to connect to the outside world and give advice to these emerging developers.

Earlier this week, I went for a run with a neighbor and he mentioned that his work team of 8 were going to participate in a Virtual Happy Hour.  I thought it was a great idea to promote connectivity.  Here at Ascent we are so interconnected and for many of us this new world of social distancing has us missing the daily interaction with our Stewards.

As I was planning our happy hour, I did some research and found some meaningful tips to ensure this was successful:

  • Pick a Video Chat Platform That’s Easiest for Everyone:  At Ascent all our meetings and calls are on Microsoft Teams so this one was easy for us.
  • Keep Numbers Manageable: As I mentioned, my friend’s team is a small group of 8, however with our numbers approaching 100 consultants, if a high percentage were to attend a virtual meeting, it would be impossible to have conversation.  To get a gauge as to how many would attend, I first sent out a poll explaining the concept and determining how many would be interested.  From there I made sure that each video chat room had no more than 10 members and then set up the appropriate number of MS Teams Happy Hour meetings.
  • Encourage Everyone to Bring A Drink – there is something nicely communal about eating and drinking together.   Alcohol is not necessary but having an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage in hand will help everyone feel more relaxed and is a good ice breaker for coworkers that you may not know as well.
  • Wear Clothes – I joke but remember, this is still a work setting, we want some boundaries.
  • Keep the Conversation Light – try not to turn this into another work-related conference call, the idea is to connect and laugh with one another

Some thoughts after our first ever virtual happy hour:

  • I found that the virtual happy hour with co-workers was the best part of my day.  It’s been great to hang out at home with my family, and I’ve stayed in touch with close friends throughout this period of social distancing, but I missed the daily interaction with co-workers that randomly occur throughout the day.  This filled that void.
  • For our next one we are thinking of giving everyone access to all the rooms so you can pop in and out of different rooms and mingle more.
  • MS Teams was great, but I wished that you could see everyone at one time (currently the limit is 4 windows at one time, but I am hearing that MS is hoping to roll out a change to that limitation shortly)
  • As a bonus, there weren’t any glasses to pick up or bar tab to pay when we were done.

This new reality of social distancing doesn’t mean that we need to discard some of the fun things that make us more human.  Just because we are currently staying more than six feet away from each other doesn’t mean we have to be apart.