Mad*Pow’s SVP of Experience Design Brady Bonus kicked off the leadership forum that comprised day one of 2020 FXD for 60-plus participants. The event included structured networking and workshops, followed by a virtual happy hour.
We began the day with a multi-step exercise where we shared what we’ve been dealing with collectively and separately over the last several months around COVID. Brady explained that this exercise was “meant to drive design and spark some inspiration” by learning about “situations, issues, challenges in the market and in our jobs, but also about finding like-minded people who are doing similar work as we are and getting to know people, expanding our networks and finding new peers and colleagues.”
After breaking into smaller groups, Brady directed us to define the challenges we faced – both personal or business-related. Individual team members recorded their respective challenges on Post-it notes. Those notes were then used to do affinity mapping to help us to recognize themes and patterns that we might not come up with on our own.
Coming back together with the larger group, we shared our challenges, including:
- Discovering ways to have effective virtual collaboration
- Working and taking care of children
- Differentiating whether challenges are a result of COVID or just normal run of business
- Being plugged into the workday longer but having surprisingly less time to do work
- Establishing boundaries between work and home life in this new virtual work environment
- Creating a physical environment that is conducive to work
- Feeling like you’re always at work and how that affects mental attitude and sleep patterns
- Having intense pressure to innovate
- Figuring out how to sponsor team events in this environment
Next, we shared what actions each of us took to respond to each challenge, indicating if our response was ultimately effective, ineffective or not sure.
In breakout sessions, we then worked to identify an opportunity that arose from the challenges and a key behavior that we wanted to impact and change.
Interestingly, all the groups chose to focus on addressing the issue of work/life balance.
Some great ideas came from that session, including:
- Avoid interruptions when you are off the clock by sharing your work calendar with co-workers so everyone knows when team members are available/not available.
- Set a standard that all work meetings must have an agenda or stated meeting goal. If an agenda or goal isn’t provided, the meeting can be declined
- Block off specific hours for specific goals/projects – personal and professional – to avoid missing life events and business deliverables
- Block off time for breaks, lunch, exercise to ensure we don’t forget to include that in our day
- Encourage team members to turn on cameras during Zoom sessions and call on people to engage others and discourage multitasking
- Create physical barriers to separate work from home to keep yourself from living at work (put your work computer in a drawer; no work email after a set time)
- Increase self-awareness to recognize and avoid burnout
- Celebrate people who have good work/life balance to inspire others to develop a good work/life balance and show that the organization values this skill
To end the day, Nedret Sahin, senior experience designer at Mad*Pow, joined to transition the group to a virtual happy hour using High Fidelity, an online audio space for virtual gatherings that emulates how people interact with each other in real life. High Fidelity is currently in beta release, and FXD 2020 participants had the opportunity to test drive it to network with one another. It was an innovative way to conclude the day and prepare for a full day of information and inspiration on Day 2!