5 Ways to Foster Community at a WFH Company

April 28, 2021

This blog is co-authored by Kathleen Parrish, Nasuni Chief People Officer, and Porscha Fontellio, Nasuni Human Resources Manager.

Normally when my colleagues write about remote work and WFH initiatives in this space, they cover how enterprises are using Nasuni technology to thrive in our strange new world. But we are part of a global and growing company ourselves, so I thought I would offer a quick update on how Nasuni is evolving as an organization.

Our largest physical project is the overhaul of our Boston headquarters into a more collaborative, hoteling space without traditional desk ownership. Last year around this time, our CTO wrote:

“What I’d like to know is how we can foster brainstorming in a virtual environment. How can we help employees who would once run into each other several times a day stumble upon those creative solutions that so often find their way onto our whiteboards?”

Thankfully, we are returning to the office in modified form, and at Nasuni we hope to arrange in-the-office days so that teams use the time and the meeting-centric spaces to brainstorm collaboratively. WFH days, on the other hand, will be better spent on independent productivity. Working from home is going to stay, but we want our Nasuni colleagues to feel like they have a home in Boston as well.

In addition to rethinking our physical spaces in Boston and beyond, we have been engaging in great conversations with employees and team leaders to find out the state of the working environment at Nasuni. In the process my colleagues and I have come across some interesting ways of bolstering that feeling of unity or connectivity between physically distant teammates. Let’s face it. These are strange times. We have multiple new employees who still haven’t met their coworkers or managers face to face, even though they live in the same region. But we were happy to learn that everyone is committed to finding new ways to foster a sense of community at Nasuni. A few of my favorites:

Office Hours

Zoom fatigue is real for all of us. Too many of us are overwhelmed by back-to-back-to-back meetings, so one of our sales leaders instituted college-style office hours, welcoming anyone on his team to drop in to discuss issues or troubleshoot. This ended up giving him time back on his calendar, since it allowed him to roll multiple meetings into one daily session, but it also ended up sparking the kind of random collaboration we’ve all missed. One team member will voice a problem, and one of his or her colleagues in the office hours will suggest a solution before the manager even has to get involved.

Ending Meetings Early

We were hearing complaints about how the back-to-back nature of meetings left people with little time to process what was just discussed. So we’ve been playing around with the idea of mandating – or maybe just suggesting – that all meetings stop ten minutes early, giving people enough time to stop and think before clicking over to a new session.

Revamped Onboarding  

As I mentioned above, we have team members who still haven’t met face to face. The last thing we want is for new Nasuni employees to feel like outsiders. For us to be as successful as we plan to be as a company, we need to attract and retain talent. That means making our employees feel like they are truly part of something. So we instituted regular meetings on Mondays to welcome new hires, inviting everyone from across the company to drop in. As long as the travel isn’t too bad, we’re encouraging our managers to meet with their new team members in safe and socially distant environments to build those personal real-world connections.

Miniature Kickoffs

In the past, we’d have a huge annual meeting in Boston and bring together as many Nasuni employees as possible, from all around the globe, to kick off the new year. These were fantastic events, and wonderful bonding opportunities, but we’re not sure when the next one will be feasible. In lieu of these gatherings, we’re making an effort to host more company-wide virtual events — micro-kickoffs that give us a chance to learn about where the company and our technology are headed, and what’s happening in different departments.

Mandated Rest

Finally, we heard from quite a few people that they were flat-out exhausted. One of the problems with working from home is that you never really leave the office. You can always go back to your desk to take one more look at that document, fire out a few more emails, or review that code for a few extra hours. Our engineers and customer service experts were getting burnt out, so we’re instituting structured days off, effectively forcing them to step away from the desk. We’re also getting away from a traditional 9-5 schedule in favor of staggered schedules that allow our employees to be more productive with their workloads while balancing priorities and life events.

This post is just a brief overview of what we’re doing to make this new world work at Nasuni. We’re constantly trying to improve and find ways to make Nasuni a better place to work, in or out of the office, so if you’re looking for a new opportunity, we’re always in search of great talent.

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