Click the video above to watch the full interview with Kindle Robison of eMindful. Or enjoy the edited transcript below.
I've known Mary Pigatti, the CEO of eMindful, for nearly a decade. One fun fact is that Mary is a three time TINYpulse client and has implemented us at every stop of her career since TINYpulse was founded (thanks Mary 👏).
So when Mary and I were recently chatting about the cultural impacts of COVID-19, she shared some of the innovative remote team building activities like virtual Easter egg hunts and photo contests that her Culture Club spearheaded.
I was immediately hooked and asked Mary to introduce me to the head of the culture club so that I can share their inspirational and creative team building activities with the rest of the TINYpulse community. Mary introduced me to Kindle Robison, who leads their Culture Club, and I hope Kindle's great ideas sparks some innovative remote culture building opportunities for you and your colleagues.
Don't forget to check out TINYtalk #2 on boosting culture during COVID-19.
Creating connection via a virtual Easter egg hunt
We were coming up on Passover and Easter weekend, and employees were feeling sad they weren't able to do their typical traditions or springtime celebrations. So, as a culture club we huddled together and we're like, "Okay, what do we miss the most? Well, we do definitely miss egg hunting, so how can we bring that to our company?"
"So we did a virtual egg hunt, where embedded in different platforms that we get our work done (Jira, Slack, emails, etc.) we hid little Easter eggs — clip art and simple Easter eggs. The morning of the big egg hunt, we sent out an email inviting our employees to the hunt."
I changed my email signature to have a little egg in it. We gave people instructions and some hints as to where they could find it. Maybe on the link to Confluence or on our employee happiness page.
And we actually had people throughout the day, once they found one, they had to Slack it to myself or another woman that I work with. People were so competitive. We had so much fun. It was great. At 4:00, at the end of the day when the last egg went out, we had people that had timestamps when they found eggs and were emailing them to us.
It was really fun. I was so surprised. I thought it was going to land or be dicey, but it went really well.
Engaging employees with a virtual photo contest
To engage their colleagues and to create more connections, they decided to create categories for photo submissions.
"We came up with different categories, what's a new hobby that someone's adopted during quarantine, or what's the most interesting thing you bought on Amazon, or who are our Gordon Ramsey chefs that have done amazing baking or cooking in the kitchen."
We also got creative with coming up with the title of who was the biggest work from home MacGyver. Because not everyone has a typical office environment, so we had some people get really creative with a drying rack that they put over a treadmill to create a treadmill desk.
It was really inventive and fun, and we sent it out and allowed, obviously, all employees, encouraging them to participate. We got some really hilarious images back (as you can see above :).
We're going to do another round because after people saw the results and saw what people were submitting, people realized that they had bought way weirder things on Amazon than a cold brew maker.
In order to pick a winner, we included in an all-company meeting, we took up some time. We had a subcommittee of the culture club that actually voted representatives from each department and voted on the actual blue ribbon winners. But everyone was a winner.
Why and the benefits of your culture club?
What we did as an organization before COVID even started was we have a culture club, which is designed to bridge the gap between virtual and local employees.
It really helps our company rally around our core values and makes sure we're creating an environment where everyone can flourish and bring their best selves to work.
So being on the culture club, and being a local employee, we worked really hard to try and bridge that gap and make sure that we were experiencing cohesiveness in the office and outside the office.
"When COVID happened we had to really lean into and have our virtual employees help us locally — employees who had never really had to work from home."
We have a benefit of working from home on Fridays, but it's very different now with COVID and the new normal of having to work from home with so many different obstacles and elements that are playing into your day to day.
So, we really kind of had to bridge that gap and get cues to how to keep our momentum up in the face of a global pandemic.
How is your culture club setup and what have you learned from it?
Our culture club is about 10 people and we have different subcommittees within it.
"But I think the biggest thing that I've learned is to really take into account how many different scenarios your employees and your colleagues are working in, and then how you might have certain needs, but they could be very, very different from another one of your colleagues."
That's something that any initiative we've taken to push forward, we've typically always had the subcommittee composed of a virtual and a local and the office employee. Just to make sure we're trying to meet as many different needs as we can.
The importance of CEO transparency and communication
Mary Pigatti is such a mindful leader.
"I think one of the biggest things Mary has done for us as a company and helped with our culture is she's holding biweekly Q&A sessions with the CEO. They are completely transparent."
We've actually had a lot of questions in TINYpulse regarding COVID and how we feel personally, how we think it's going to impact us professionally, and everything else.
Mary takes the time to sit down with us and have a very transparent discussion.
It's really alleviated a lot of stress that any of us had, and makes us feel even more committed to doing what we're doing. The reason for that is we know that our mission is going to help people get through this experience as well.
eMindful has a vision of making every moment matter. We're on a mission to deliver evidence-based mindfulness programs applied to everyday life and chronic conditions, promoting health, happiness, and performance.
All mindfulness is, is practicing the ability to pay attention to what's happening in the present moment, and being open about it, curious, and willing to just be with whatever is.
We have expert teachers that really create a connection with our participants that allow them to really understand themselves, and thus increase their productivity and make their lives and every one of their moments better.
eMindful is composed of about 30 employees and the majority of us are located at our headquarters in Orlando, Florida. However, we have a big contingent that are virtual employees.
Do you have a TINYpulse best practice or tip to share with the community?
We're constantly on the lookout for tactics, and inspiring stories to highlight and share. If you want to be featured with our CEO and have a story that would resonate with the TINYpulse community, please contact Lori Li (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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