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Bond with each other

We’re still humans, even if we mostly only see each other in video chat. How can we build understandings of each other as humans when we don’t bump into each other in the hallway or by the much lauded, proverbial water cooler?

Healthy work practices

We’ve done a lot of thinking about how to be healthy as individuals. We think a lot about what counts as work, what taking breaks looks like, how to have boundaries between work and not work, and how to distribute time over a day. We have a lot more to say in 🔒our healthy work habits in a distributed company internal doc. We’d recommend every organization come up with a similar doc which aligns with their work habits and expectations. (We, along with the research, stand by a 40 hour work week maximum.)

Applicable to groups over 50 - when habits are no longer transferable across the whole group by observation and happenstance.

Being Humans Together (BHT)

Getting distributed folk in a video in a coordinated way to talk about life outside of work is now a standing half-hour weekly timeslot at Truss. It is some Trussels’ favorite part of the week. If under 9 participants, each person gets 2 minutes to talk about anything at all they want to (but talking about work is lightly discouraged). If it’s more than 9 participants, a quick checkin happens on how people are feeling, and then breakout groups of 3-4 people each for a deeper dive. We sometimes have a prompt (“what’s one story about you that you think really represents what you’re like?” or a show-and-tell.

Applicable as soon as you have 2 or more team members outside an office.

Coworking on Things We Don't Want to Do

There are some tasks we all put off because we just plain don't want to do them. At Truss, we've tackled this by scheduling remote coworking time we fondly call, "Coworking on things we don't want to do." Somebody adds a meeting to our company calendar, usually for an hour, and the folks who opt-in keep each other company while we slog through our to-do lists. Past tasks accomplished include: filing expense reports, sorting through boxes of mail, and creating a form for an internal survey.

Topic-based socializing

Whether it’s crafts, a book or movie club, or playing games together, having a way to share space in a lightly structured way which prompts learning things about each other is a good move.

Applicable to groups of 50 and above - when you will have critical mass for interest. Ok to do before, but with less frequency.

#Colleagues-and-coffee

A certain set of people are often able to make it to BHT or to a topic-based socializing event, and some folk see each other often because they’re on the same project or committee. To introduce some serendipity into the mix, we also have an opt-in channel that randomly pairs two (or three) Trussels together every other week. The Trussels then schedule a time together and meet to talk. We use https://www.donut.ai/

Applicable for groups over 30, highly recommended after 50.

#Celebrations

Humans are creatures who tend to like recognition of arbitrary cycles. We have a bot to remind us of folks’ birthdays and Trusselversaries. It also gets the gif party started. People opt in to have https://birthdaybot.io/ remind others of their birthdays or join date in a stand-alone channel to keep distractions contained.

Applicable for groups of 15 and more, sooner if you don’t have someone around who cares to track dates.

#Selfies

Remembering that people have faces also helps us to remember that they are human. Having a selfies channel in chat reminds folk it’s ok (encouraged, even!) to post pictures of themselves, which lets us see glimpses of their lives.

Discretionary kindness budget

Everyone has a small, noncumulative budget to do nice things for other Trussels. We’ve sent each other stickers, coffee cups, and yarn. This helps with bonding of a distributed team in a direct way.

You can also read more in our blog post on how to be inclusive of a distributed team.

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