Connect with your colleagues remotely
Cohesive company culture is a challenge in the time of Covid-19 when so many are working from home. You don’t see people at work anymore. Spontaneous conversations just don’t exist right now, unless they’re at the end of a Zoom call. How does one connect with one’s colleagues that’s not just a cocktail hour on a video conference call? To reconnect, it must be intentional.
Lawyers are independent and many law firms operate on the “eat what you kill” model, meaning that within the law firm, each attorney is akin (but not exactly so) to an independent contractor. They create their own practices. Why would they want to be on a team?
Stress-free team building activities can help lawyers remember why it’s important to stay engaged with their colleagues. Without the opportunity to pass each other in the hallway on a regular basis, barriers can inadvertently get established along the lines of a law firm’s job titles, organizational chart, and practice areas.
Why Team Building is Important
When a lawyer participates in team building activities within the law firm, she’ll get to know her colleagues better – their strengths and weaknesses as well as their interests. When you know someone better, it creates a trust and appreciation for each other that can result in increased productivity. The cohesiveness of the law firm benefits from this kind of human resourcefulness and understanding.
Here’s the thing: in challenging times (now), you never know when you’re going to need the cohesiveness of your law firm — there is strength in numbers. Familiarity breeds trust and that’s what you’ll rely on if your law firm ever gets into a bind: financially, politically or ethically. When you know your colleagues better, the attorneys can better support one another.
If you haven’t built trust and you’re just a bunch of individuals, in bad times, you’ll be in trouble. An escape room won’t solve that by itself, but team building activities are simple things that you can do to support that strength.
Most law firms are 75% men and support staff is 80% women. When you break down those gender and status barriers and get to know each other, you will experience better things at the law firm. If your firm is too stuffy to do this, how is that working for you?
If you’ve never tried online team building exercises, now’s the time. Try scheduling them on a bi-weekly basis. Get feedback from the attorneys. Offer incentives to join – at least to get the ball rolling. Make sure partners and senior attorneys join, to lead by example. Online team building exercises are more than frivolous time sucks. They truly can lead to a deepening of the culture at your law firm.
Below are some examples of online team building exercises.
The Perfect Vacation
This short activity can build listening skills and introduce lawyers within the firm that might not otherwise be familiar with each other.
If you’re using a tool like Zoom, you can assign pairs of people to breakout rooms for 15 minutes. During the 15 minutes, each person tells their partner about what a perfect vacation would look like, given unlimited time and money.
When everyone returns to the main Zoom meeting, each person will explain their partner’s perfect vacation to the rest of the group.
Every Picture Tells a Story
Colleagues share a picture that tells a story about themselves. The photo could be from childhood, a current photo or from a life event — anything that reveals something about the person’s life.
Behind the Scenes
One person “volunteers” (a senior partner?) to show his colleagues what’s going on in his life outside the office: styles, prized possessions, personal stories, significant others, pets, and more.
Similar to “Behind the Scenes,” each person can present their favorite recipe. Extra points for having prepared it for a show and tell.
That Your Office?
Before the video call, all participants upload photos of their home offices to whomever is administering the game. Photos can include a favorite mug, view from the window, long shot of the entire room.
During the game, everyone tries to guess whose workspace is whose.
Finding a way to plug into calm, kindness, compassion and caring during this stressful moment that we’re living through is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself and your colleagues.
A bucket list is a list of things you want to do or experience within your lifetime. Each person’s bucket list says a lot about them.
An oldie but goodie.
Virtual Talent Show
Set up a time for law firm colleagues to share their secret talents, however zany they may be: musical, magical, or ridiculous, the opportunity to showcase talent is a fun and engaging way to highlight interests outside of work for the team.
Recipe Roundup and Cook Off
Let’s face it: everyone cares about good food. Since we (mostly) can’t go out to eat, home cooks are getting their wings and some are even breaking culinary boundaries during this stay-at-home time. Everyone can submit a favorite recipe and then show special techniques for preparing during a video chat. Alternately, everyone could submit a themed recipe (dessert, vegan, Indian, etc.) and a vote could be taken at the end for best in show.
Whether it’s one of these options or something else your firm comes up with, this is a great time to make it a point to connect internally. After you do, you’ll likely see improved team dynamics, a positive impact on company culture, and an overall lightening of mood across your firm.