An Alternative to Video Happy Hours at Work: Interest-Related Chat Groups

The Problem: Video call burn-out.

Are you as burnt out as I am with video happy hours at work? I love my coworkers and miss them, but at times I have been suffering from video call fatigue when the end-of-day conversation revolves around how we are dealing with the effects of the pandemic and discussions of client issues. I have been searching for a promising alternative that involves engaging with my coworkers and meets the following requirements:

The Requirements: 

  1. Encouragement of bonding between employees who don’t work together frequently; 
  2. No restrictive “meeting time,” which allows participants to contribute at any time that works best with their schedule;
  3. A written component so that the quieter participants can have a voice since they may often be spoken over in video calls; and
  4. A low-maintenance, ongoing solution that can stay in place indefinitely, even post-pandemic.

The Solution: Interest-related breakout chat groups for any and all hobbies. I discovered this idea on this blog post. Thank you, Trello!

Imagine this: Separate Microsoft Teams or Slack chat groups for various interests such as pets, yoga, books, etc. Anyone in the office can create a group and/or join a group. A listing is kept of all the groups so that when the new employees start, they can easily identify groups they’d be interested in joining (or starting, if there is not one already). 

These low-maintenance open-to-all chats will motivate bonding among employees, allow the group-members to contribute whenever they want, and give a voice to all. 

The Benefits: 

  1. Encouragement for team members to share their full selves at work; 
  2. Comfortability for participants to contribute because of a clear center to the discussion; 
  3. Trust-building across levels, which leads to: 
    1. Informal mentorship opportunities,
    2. New employees feeling comfortable bringing fresh, creative ideas to management, and
    3. Friendships outside of work;
  4. A selling point for recruiting employees and future intern classes; and
  5. An easy, low-commitment way to bond remotely.

If you want to suggest this idea at your company to encourage team-building while we work remotely, please feel free to share this post and let me know how it goes! What groups would you be interested in starting?

In my office, I can already envision groups forming for the following hobbies that my co-workers are passionate about:

  • Pets – Sharing adorable pet videos or social media accounts.
  • Golfing – Discussing the best courses on which to play and sharing photos of their golf swings.
  • Video Games – Setting up Call of Duty sessions or discussing Animal Crossing turnip prices.
  • Fine Liquor – Sharing Total Wine discounts and recipes for favorite cocktails.
  • Netflix – Suggesting the latest and greatest shows and movies on streaming subscriptions.
  • Accounting Memes – No explanation needed – a given in public accounting!

I would definitely join the pets group, even though I don’t have a pet myself…yet. Puppy videos and photos are the best! I cannot wait to see how these groups evolve over time and what new hobbies are introduced. I feel these groups would be a great way to connect during and after pandemic times without coworkers having to rely on work-centered discussions!

To reach me directly and for more content, follow me on Instagram and Facebook (@sophieexplains), and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.