Ashby & Gabriel has team members in four different states, and clients in every time zone across the country. While there are clear logistical challenges to remote work, there are advantages too. Earlier this summer, our Account Executive Rachel Morrison took the opportunity to work from Bari, Italy. Kent and Megan Berame, who are based in West Palm Beach, Florida, have had the opportunity to take extended trips out west and meet with clients in Colorado and California during the implementation of complex projects.
Business professionals are now, more than ever, enjoying the freedom of working remotely. This freedom can look like home offices, co-working spaces, or personal hotspots and a road trip friendly vehicle. Ashby & Gabriel is a company that is proud to exhibit this kind of company culture. Just the other day, one of our account executives said, “Bali would be cool, just have to check the WIFI reception there.” Although this lifestyle might not be for everyone, a recent study showed that 43% of employed Americans said that they spent at least some time working remotely.
It’s time to acknowledge the shift in traditional workplace community. Saying hello to something new often means saying goodbye to something old. We can no longer exchange weekend recaps by the water cooler or whisper hot gossip over the cubicle dividers. All this to say, successful businesses will have to adopt a policy of intentionality for the sake of their community culture. Office camaraderie can still exist, even if not inside a break room. Here is a list of 4 steps your business can take to create interpersonal connection in the digital workplace.
1. Weekly Video Meetings:
At Ashby & Gabriel, our leaders have instituted a policy of weekly “connection calls.” Each week, we intentionally set aside 30 minutes to connect one-on-one with each other over video conferencing. Although we do connect weekly as a team, these calls are designed with conversation questions, which allow just two teammates to problem-solve, converse, and connect.
2. Group Communication:
Find an application that encourages constant and effective communication. Our team uses Slack, which gives users the ability to message teammates within a channel or individually. Not to mention, Slack allows users to communicate through the use of gifs. *Insert “The Office” meme here.*
3. Company Retreats:
Being intentional can also mean taking physical steps towards one another. This year, Ashby & Gabriel is conducting its first ever company retreat, a time for the whole office to connect in person.
4. In Person Connection Days:
Recently, I had the pleasure of connecting with Rachel Thompson, our in-house graphic designer. We graduated from the same university and had both decided to stay local after graduation. After meeting at a coffee shop to work on some projects, we learned that we had both interned for the same co-working space. Rachel and I will probably have many more coffee shop dates, where we work on our individual project, together. That is the beauty of working remotely, you have the choice to work alone, but you also have the choice to be together.
People need people, even in the current climate of office culture. There is nothing inherently wrong with our move towards the freedom of a more technological society, but we need to remember our roots, for the well-being of offices everywhere. Successful digital media businesses will have to rethink workplace community for the sake of interpersonal wellness. This is an unprecedented idea, which will need innovative thinkers. In the end, all the extra effort will be worth it, because connection is key to successful businesses.