Getting to know you: a workplace journey through COVID

Getting to know you: a workplace journey through COVID image
Getting to know you: a workplace journey through COVID
# General

Kelly Lee
Project Manager & UI/UX Designer




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Changes to the workplace over the past year have been quite crazy. Everywhere we turn we hear about the positives of a remote work environment: increased work productivity, spending less on “work clothes,” work from almost anywhere, better work-life balance and probably less road rage. I whole-heartedly embrace these. The lack of people surrounding you during the workday may also be seen as a positive for many - unfortunately, not for me. I love the chatter and buzz of a workplace. Fortunately for me, I work for a company that is intentional about creating a virtual counterpart to all the good things about the office. Binary Evolution has been remote since 2010, so while the environment is the same, our solutions are always evolving. Here’s something fun we did recently that you might find beneficial to add to your remote repertoire too!

In January of 2020, we started something new. We already had a Friday afternoon meeting in place where our entire team got on a conference call and conducted a typical weekly summary. Like most end-of-week team meetings, we talked about what we accomplished over the past five days, gave general project updates, and sometimes discussed plans for the following work week. We decided this was just about as boring as it sounds and were thinking of ways to enhance the weekly meeting. At about that time, we just added a few new team members and were looking for ways to get to know each other better. This is where the fun began.

Enter “the weekly question.”

Initially, we started throwing out random questions to wrap-up our Friday call. But after a while, we noticed others had a knack for interesting and conversation provoking questions, so we let those naturally unfold, and ran with it.

My favorite was a few months in, when someone posed the inquiry, “Would you rather randomly time travel +/- 20 years every time you fart or teleport to a different place on earth (on land, not water) every time you sneeze?  (assume no COVID for the location teleport)” Many of the weekly questions included caveats and COVID exempt clauses.

One of the most entertaining parts of our weekly questions are the follow-up inquiries posed when a question is unveiled (usually only a few hours before our meeting). For example, when we asked, “If you could have dinner with one person that is alive today, who would it be and why?” the subsequent chatter was, “Can it be someone that I plan on having dinner with tonight anyway?”…”Yes, but then I will ask for a follow-up one that is not your significant other”…”does it have to be human?”…”It can be whomever you want and we will be impressed or taunt you accordingly.” Apparently we are very detail oriented.

No matter the question, I always feel like I learn something new about my teammates and grow closer to each member of the crew despite the distance between us. Honestly, “The weekly question” has helped me get to know them just as well as any week long in-person retreat I’ve experienced, and seems to work for introverts and extroverts alike. Despite a majority of our employees being scattered about the south east United States, I now know who’d rather fart/time travel vs sneeze/teleport, and I think our whole team is better for it.

Below is a list of questions from many of our Friday calls. Content Warning: Some of these are not suitable for all workplaces. We are pretty chill, lol. Feel free to reuse in your workplace if you dare!

  • What’s the most memorable mishap you had on vacation?
  • You’re cooking for the whole team, what is your signature dish?
  • What is something for self-improvement or education you wished you had started six months or a year ago?
  • If you were to ever be arrested, what would it be for?
  • If you could have an extra hour of free time every day, how would you use it?
  • What was the last thing you did for the first time?
  • If you could instantly become an expert in something, what would it be?
  • If you started your own amusement park, what kind of park would it be? (What rides or theme is the park)
  • What is the strangest gift you have ever received?
  • (if you’ve never received a strange gift, what’s one you have given?)
  • What is your best scar story, and if you don’t have any scars – when was a time when you inflicted a scar, willingly or otherwise?
  • If you could have your favorite restaurants within walking distance, what would they be?
  • What was your favorite game as a child? As an adult?
  • Do you collect anything, and if so what? If you don’t collect anything, what is something you have an abundance of?
  • What’s your favorite or most notable birthday moment?
  • What other career paths did you consider (or pursue) in the past? (This can be high school, what your degree is in, or just other things you debated becoming when younger) Bonus points for alternate degrees/training you did.
  • In your opinion, what’s the most underrated or unappreciated 80s movie?
  • What is something you did yourself that due to an experience you would gladly hire pros for in the future?
  • What’s/What are the funniest term(s) or phrase(s) you’ve used that has been misunderstood by a client?
  • Who is your favorite villain, either real life or fictional? (Such as a bad guy you can’t help but root for)
  • If animals could talk, which would be the rudest?
  • What sport would be the funniest to add a mandatory amount of alcohol to?
  • What Disney princess would make the best spy?
  • What do you most look forward to in 2021?
  • What is your favorite and least favorite Christmas movie? (Yes, Gremlins and Die Hard are Christmas movies)
  • What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? (If you’ve never received any advice, what’s the best advice you’ve ever given someone else)
  • What is your favorite strange food combinations?
  • What would you grow with magic beans?
  • Despite it being a challenging year, what is something you are thankful for in 2020?
  • What have you done to bring yourself joy during this crazy time with Covid?
  • What was your best and worst vacation?
  • What fictional family would you like to be a member of and why?
  • What food did you hate as a kid that you love now? What food did you hate as a kid that you still dislike as an adult? What childhood foods did you love that are no longer available?
  • What is the best podcast, documentary, or other non-fiction show/broadcast you have seen/heard lately? It can be a series or a particular episode, Ted talk, etc.
  • What is the strangest way you’ve been abruptly woken up or the weirdest dream that caused you to wake up?
  • What is the most memorable idiom you carried on from family and or friends?
  • Tell about a time when a delivery, online order, etc. went horribly wrong.
  • What was the first record, tape or CD that you ever owned?
  • What's something you're glad your mom/dad/grandparent doesn't know about you?
  • What is an activity/hobby that you are into (or want to get into) that most of us would not know about or might surprise us?
  • What is the perfect food? (Discuss and battle)
  • What is your favorite/most used emoji and what emoji do you wish existed?
  • If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  • What is your favorite work lunch or your most common go-to work week lunch?
  • Who is your hero? (Fictional, real or both)
  • What was your first job and/or your strangest job?
  • What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
  • What was the last appliance of yours that burst into flames?
  • How many countries have you visited outside your own and what was your favorite?
  • What is your most memorable birthday and why?
  • Do you currently or have you previously collected anything?
  • Who was your favorite teacher and why?
  • What historical figure would you like to hang out with for a day in the modern world and what you would take them to do/see? (Bill and Ted style)
  • What hobbies/activities are you doing to pass the time (i.e.: survive) during time at home?
  • Have you (or do you plan to) picked up any new hobbies that have helped?
  • What is your biggest pet peeve?
  • If you had $1000 to give to the charity of your choice, what would it be and why? Follow up - If you could start a charity to help work in your spare time what would it focus on?
  • If you had $1000, and the only requirement was to use it for something frivolous for yourself, what would you buy? The money cannot be used for bills, investments, or other responsible options.
  • If you had to delete all but three apps from your smartphone (or computer if you don’t use one), which ones would you keep and why?
  • What is something you did as a kid that people would be horrified to let kids do today? Bonus points: Post a picture of yourself as a kid when it’s your turn on the call.
  • After these pandemic passes, what is the first food you will go out and get OR what is your favorite food? Follow up for while we are all home - What is your favorite food to prepare and why?
  • If you could time travel to any period in history, when would it be and why?
  • What are the 2 most binge-worthy shows you would recommend:
    • New - in the past 1-2 years or currently on
    • Older - 8+ years old
  • What’s the most embarrassing ‘work from home’ moment you’ve had?
  • What is your favorite Song/Band/Music to get motivated or work to? What song is your guilty pleasure? (We promise not to laugh... much)
  • What is your one favorite fiction book and one favorite non-fiction book
  • What is your spirit animal and why?
  • Name one thing you love that most people hate.
  • Name one thing you hate that most people love.

No company solution is ever perfect, nor is there a utopian solution for camaraderie in a virtual environment, but what’s worked for us is maintaining a relaxed and inviting culture that welcomes the eccentricities of everyone’s unique personality. Whether someone considers Die Hard a Christmas movie or thinks Sleeping Beauty is actually a Disney villain, we’ve found that just by broaching some of these silly topics, we’ve been able to foster an environment where everyone is heard, accepted, and valued – a microcosm of one our company’s chief goals.

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(770) 683-2764

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