Oh sweet world, sweet creatures, sweet planet, sweet humanity. We’re in unprecedented times right now — we’re all scared and facing massive uncertainty. This kind of uncertainty has huge impacts on our hearts and our minds. How can we embrace all this disruption and use it for transformation? How can we harness our fear and transmute it into connection and compassion? Our political and economic systems are broken — we’ve known that for a long time — and now we’re all being called to face it head on, as a global community. There is no escape anymore. Mother Nature has literally thrown down the gauntlet, and is calling the whole of humanity to rise to the better angels of our nature.
At Provoc, our core values are equity, beauty and love. We’re holding these values especially sacred right now, as we think about how we can support our team, our collaborators, our partners and our communities. We wanted to share some heartfelt ideas about how we’re healing our way through this and being the most supportive to each other that we can be. Take what feels supportive to you and your team — we’re all in this together!
From a virtual team standpoint, it’s important to think about ways to support each other working at a distance; Provoc is a largely virtual team as it is, so here are some things that we do to help each other and collaborate on a regular basis:
- Make sure you have time on a weekly basis to connect virtually as a team. This all-team meeting can have a spacious agenda — the point is that it’s time to connect as a group of human beings, to see each other’s faces, to talk and laugh together. Make this meeting time to connect personally, as well as talk about the health of your organization. Play with fun games and icebreakers. We use Slack for internal meetings like this, and Zoom for all of our client-facing meetings.
- Make sure that when you start video conference calls, you block out a little time at the beginning to just talk and connect informally. Virtual teams don’t have as many coffee pot and water cooler moments, so video chats are the best option for that, and using a little time at the beginning of meetings to say hi and check in is important for team morale.
- Have clear communication protocols for letting each other know when you’re online or offline, when you’re out of the office, when you’re hunkered down on project work and can’t be interrupted, etc. For our team at Provoc, we all use Google calendar, we give people easy access to our schedules, we do our best to overlap a certain number of hours across time zones to allow for both internal and client meetings, and we use Slack (along with lots of funny gifs, of course!).
- Make sure that when you wrap meetings you have clear notes about next steps and who’s on deck for moving those next steps forward. You’d be surprised how far that kind of clarity goes, along with the commitment to making sure you get that clarity from one another.
- Support your team to ensure that everyone has comfortable work-from-home set-ups. Even though we’re a largely virtual office, we do still have folks who work in one-person offices — so we’re navigating how to support our team to have the most ergonomic home set-ups during the virus “shelter in place.”
- Encourage and facilitate a culture of care and candor. We are transparent about our company’s financial health, we share information about team capacity, we share openly about who does and doesn’t have the skills and/or interest to take on certain projects. We trust each other to be collaborators on solutions.
- We already committed to limit our air travel because of its environmental impacts, and now we’re even more steadfast about that commitment, showing ourselves and our clients that you can connect and collaborate effectively in a virtual environment.
As this virus takes hold, and we see the ripple effects of it in our communities and around the world, we’re exploring even more measures to walk the talk of being a values-driven business. We’re actively strategizing ways to ensure that our team has access to as much PTO as they need to juggle new responsibilities and uncertain schedules. We’re experimenting with new ways of structuring projects, tracking our time, and managing expectations. And as a service for hire company, we are right in the middle of that ‘both/and’ of needing to ensure our pipeline of work stays robust enough to keep the lights on, while also being spacious and flexible enough to meet these challenging times with compassion.
From a client communication standpoint, we acknowledge that this virus is shifting priorities for every organization. We are actively reflecting on the fact that how people tell their stories, and develop their theories of change and their communication strategies, is going to be (perhaps fundamentally) changed because of this pandemic. We are keeping our eyes, ears and hearts open for how we can help our clients alchemize this challenge into something that contributes to more generative and healing future narratives for our communities and the world. We also acknowledge our great blessings and privilege to be able to even ask these kinds of questions in the midst of all this.
For now, as we make our way through the next few weeks, we’re all just doing our best — with raw nerves, heavy hearts, a sense of purpose, and the desire for great, paradigm level healing. We’re grateful to do this in partnership with all of you.