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How 15 Minutes a Day Made Us All a Little More Human
Heather Hartnett shares a 15 minute team exercise that has been a game changer for strengthening our team’s connection and increasing…
Heather Hartnett shares a 15 minute team exercise that has been a game changer for strengthening our team’s connection and increasing productivity.
Given that the name of our company is Human Ventures, we have a lot to live up to when it comes to incorporating the human element of our lives into how we work. But COVID-19 introduced a new challenge: How do we maintain an authentic, close connection for our 20 employees during a time of hypersensitivity, while we aren’t able to be in the same physical space?
Working remotely may seem almost normal now — it’s amazing how quickly we as humans adapt — but in the beginning, it was isolating, uncertainty permeated the air and the new rules of connection hadn’t been established yet. Knowing and accepting that collaborative work was not going to look the same in this type of environment, it was important for us to find ways to connect as people first.
My partner Michael Letta and I knew that communication was paramount, and it was key to keep it positive and keep it frequent. So we decided to have a company-wide daily morning check-in. Not too novel, and it started out pretty general. We discussed how people were feeling and used it as an overall touch base so people felt accounted for. It began to build day after day as people started to share tidbits about their personal lives: the new hobbies they were trying in quarantine, shows they were watching and wanted to recommend, resources for learning new skills and more. Instead of doing a traditional stand up-style round robin check-in, a new person from the team would lead each day and the topic was unrelated to work.
In our six weeks of doing this, we’ve practiced gratitude and breathing exercises, gotten an introduction to TikTok and a primer on the best jazz musicians. We’ve walked through the history and hype behind Air Jordans, had a drawing challenge and received a quick cooking lesson on how to make Pasta Aglio e Olio. One of my personal favorites involved a fast scavenger hunt for household items that ended up sparking discussion around our respective childhoods. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but the bar keeps rising for the most interesting stand up, and I’m always eager to see what a team member comes up with.
I couldn’t have guessed the value of this exercise when we began and how much I would look forward to checking-in each morning. The whole team feels it’s been game changing to strengthen our connection and increase productivity. I’ve learned a lot about our team that had never surfaced while working together in person for 5 years. The content continues to evolve. We’ve now gone past the comfort food and sanity tips and have moved on to life hacks and how to be better humans on the other side of this. I’m already thinking of how to incorporate this ritual into our work lives post-quarantine, since it’s allowed our company to get even closer to the things we truly value.
In case you want to try it, here are some ground rules we live by:
The leader changes every day (no longer do only the extroverts get the floor)
It lasts 15 minutes exactly — start and end on time
Video must be enabled
We’d love to hear how it goes.