Creating connection in the new world of work

The Before-Times

When the coronavirus shut the world down at the start of 2020, we saw the workforce as we knew it shift in a big way. Prior to the pandemic, only a small handful of companies allowed employees to work from home. Now, the new world of work has created much more flexibility for workers, but also seemingly taken away something important: a feeling of connection to our colleagues and organization.

At Feet First, one of the biggest concerns we heard from clients was, “How do we maintain some form of corporate culture if we’re all apart?” Without water cooler chats or after-work Happy Hours, how are employees supposed to connect?

In what we like to call “the before-times,” Feet First created these connections with fun and interactive live events, with teams using their collective brain power and problem-solving skills to decode puzzles, or build international landmarks out of Legos, or perhaps even show off their physical coordination to launch a rubber chicken across an athletic field! Whether indoors or outdoors, we made sure to create fun team building events that allowed colleagues to get to know each other in a way that they wouldn’t
get otherwise.

With most people working from home and no opportunities to get together in person, for us in the event world we had a new challenge: how do we recreate online what we’ve always done in-person?

Gary, we can’t hear you, you’re muted
(My apologies to all the Gary’s out there!)

By April 2020, nearly everyone either hosted or went to their company’s virtual Happy Hour, and the feedback wasn’t great. What do we talk about? Is there any plan, other than to sit in our pajamas (you know you did it!) and drink a Quaran-tini? Do we take turns speaking, since now we can only do so one at a time? How long can you stay on here before politely exiting, or claim that you have a bad connection and close your laptop?! There was no real template for connecting with our friends and colleagues, and
many were starting to disconnect, literally and figuratively.

Enter companies like Feet First! Within three weeks of the pandemic, we started offering a multitude of fun virtual events. Whether teams wanted to solve puzzles, see the world, or show off their random knowledge in a game of trivia, we created online experiences for nearly every audience! During the holiday season in December of 2021 Feet First hosted over 300 Virtual Events.

Virtual events had become a big success, and teams looked forward to a rematch! We were able to create the connection we were all searching for, and the best part is that we have made it easy; all you have to do is show up, and our professional emcees will take care of the rest! These types of experiences are what helped us all get through the “unprecedented times” of 2020 and 2021, and we have found that virtual events remain a popular option to this day!

At the start of 2022, we could feel the pendulum starting to swing back the other direction again as more and more people were going back into the office and the requests for in-person events started to rise again. Now companies faced a new challenge: how would they still stay connected and foster their corporate culture when there is now a mix of remote and office staff? How do employers ensure that everyone still feels valued and engaged? If offices are now hybrid, can team-building events be…hybrid?

The answer is: sort-of.

Hybrid – not just for cars anymore!

In our experience, hybrid meetings work fine if employees are listening to a speaker or presenter, as participants can sit in the room or watch from home, and there’s not a big difference. But if you are trying to have an actively participatory event like teambuilding with some people in the room and others at home, invariably the people at home feel like they are watching everyone else have a great time and it only adds to their feeling of isolation.

In order to provide a great time for everyone, we suggest an event that has both a Virtual and an In-Person option and here’s why: your employees still want to be part of the team, they still want to connect with their colleagues, and everyone needs some laughter and light-hearted fun. Teams experience the same style of event, whether virtual or in-person.

Here’s an example of how it works with one of our most popular events: the Amazing Race… In-person teams will travel around their city using a map we provide to find random places we’ve selected and solve various physical and mental challenges. Have you ever wondered if your co-workers have thought about what a Zombie Apocalypse would look like? You might just find out!

While your In-Person group is experiencing the Amazing Race in a city-center, their Remote-working counterparts will participate in a Virtual version of the Amazing Race, having a similar experience, but they will be traveling via Google Maps through various cities all over the globe, and solving trivia questions for more points. They may find themselves hopping in a boat with their team and exploring the twists and turns of the Venice canals while looking for a code word to unlock the next destination!

Both events are a race against the clock, and while we have yet to have a company offer a $1,000,000 prize like the famous TV show, teams work just as hard for a blinged out dollar-sign necklace, or a virtual trophy made of virtual gold!

Hybrid workforces are here to stay, so it’s important to find a way for employees to connect with their colleagues. We all want to feel like we belong, and we all need a little fun and laughter in our lives. Offering something for everyone is an amazing opportunity to continue to grow and enhance your corporate culture while also showing your employees that you value their contribution to the company, whether they are working from home or going back to the office.

As we always say at Feet First, you will learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. Don’t wait a year, choose to play!