Did you join a company during the pandemic when everyone was working from home? Are you still finding it hard to meet all your colleagues due to different hybrid work schedules? With some people only coming into the office twice a week, it’s possible you may not see them for months, if ever. These are challenging times to form new or maintain existing business and personal relationships, critical to your success. But Weinstein Spira has found a way to make sure its staff is regularly connecting with each other face-to-face—in the same place, at the same time—at least once a month. We call it “All Things Social,” or ATS, since acronyms are easier to remember. As a new staff accountant, I immediately joined the open-to-all ATS committee that oversees planning and running these events, so I have the inside scoop on how it works.
What is the ATS: All Things Social Group?
While the main goal is to network and get together in person with colleagues, it is also to have fun time away from our desks, where accountants spend the majority of their workday—an occupational hazard! However, do not mistake this social group for your typical happy hour event where sitting around drinking is the norm. It’s more about having good, wholesome fun in a setting that encourages you to be yourself around peers and managers, alike. It’s meant to be a level playing field to break down barriers and silos. I welcomed the opportunity to socialize with the other side of the house (audit) when I was rotating through our tax division. That paved the way for ultimately working in audit, as I already knew most of the people from meeting them at our ATS events.
Social Group Ideas & Benefits
Social group events can be onsite or offsite depending on the time of year. During tax season, for example, we may simply choose to mosey down the hall and gather in the conference room to play board games. This helps us to decompress and forget about tax returns for an hour or so. In less busy seasons, we take advantage of the lighter workload and go ice skating at Houston’s Discovery Green, or maybe go to a bar for trivia night. And in the spring/summer months, a game of softball is everyone’s favorite. We recently held a pickleball event and it was a huge hit. Personally, these are not the type of activities that I would seek out on my own, so I welcome the opportunity to try new things with my peers. In addition to building team connections, get-togethers like these have the added benefit of building morale since most of us work remotely and may experience isolation or loneliness at times.
How to Get Started
Here are some recommendations for setting up a social group for your company:
- Assemble a dedicated committee of persons excited about planning fun-filled activities
- Appoint a manager of the committee to make sure all goes according to plan
- Look around for local events to attend as a group
- Keep activities affordable and if too pricey, ask your company to subsidize
- During spikes in the pandemic, stick to outdoor venues or remote events (like a trivia game over Zoom or other virtual platforms)
- Send out formal invites in advance along with a calendar invite, so people can RSVP and have it marked on their calendar
- Follow up with a reminder a couple of days before the event, as busy professionals have busy (and sometimes conflicting) schedules
Some events may be well attended, others not so much; but don’t give up. Next month could be more popular. In my opinion, this is a great way to stay unified during the pandemic times and beyond. Good luck and enjoy socializing in the hybrid reality!