In this world of remote working, restrictions being enforced around social gatherings and the merging of people’s work/home lives, we have all had to adapt and change the way we do things. As this challenges us to think in new ways about how we deliver company events and keep employees engaged, I’ve learned that sometimes beautiful moments can be created amongst the chaos.
Covid-19 has had a sudden impact on all aspects of our lives and has significantly blurred the boundary between work and home for many. Even within Cloudreach, an agile company that is no stranger to remote working, Covid-19 has sparked us to connect in new and exciting ways, and be more fluid in our approach to the day-to-day.
As Events and Internal Communications Lead for Cloudreach, my role is primarily focused on delivering events to both internal and external stakeholders. With most of the world working from home and restrictions being placed around social gatherings, there is a huge impact on our events calendar, processes, content, and way we engage employees. Our immediate response as a company has been to show compassion and support for our people . So with this in mind whilst re-designing our engagement calendar, we focused on continuing to provide meaningful experiences for our employees to support them as they adjust within this uncertain environment.
I saw the idea of ‘Virtual Bring your Kids to Work Day’ as an exciting opportunity to alleviate, if only for a moment, our employees’ stay-at-home working life chaos and give them a reprieve from child-minding duties by encouraging them to bring them to work! The idea was brilliant, but executing the global virtual event would certainly be an exciting challenge!
Virtual Bring your Kids to Work Day
As someone who doesn’t have kids, I sat at my new desk strategically positioned in my small London kitchen, thinking how to tackle a global virtual event situated across 6 time zones with a highly variable age range. Outside drawing upon my normal event-planning wheelhouse – where on earth do I start?
Luckily at Cloudreach we are a highly engaged community who support each other across many slack channels and digital communities. Reaching out to our newly formed ‘chat-working-parents’ for ideas and to gauge interest levels was the perfect place to start. Now armed with valuable feedback and proposed ideas, it was time to set a date and crack on!
Challenges of remote events
Cracking on meant using my event expertise to tackle some challenges, naturally. Virtual or not, kids or not, some challenges apply to ANY global event.
- Creating engaging content: I’ve learnt that once you get past approximately 6 people, unless you have either a solid meeting structure or compelling content, it’s difficult to have a two-day interaction through a virtual session.
- Scheduling: with offices across 6 time zones, this always proves a problem and even more so in the instance of children as they are less flexible than us adults!
- Variety of ages: Whilst I don’t have kids of my own, I have twin nephews and several god-children of a variety of ages so I understand the need to deliver content that will engage across the board.
In reality these boil down to – 1) How long have you got, and 2) when are you going to host these sessions. The difference is – how the hell do I make this compelling for ages 5 to tween-age (not my typical audience)!
As a global company with offices spread across 19 locations including Pune, India and Vancouver, Canada, this isn’t a new challenge to my team. We are always faced with it being late for one set of employees and early for another. In order to combat this, we decided to run the sessions twice, once for EMEA and once for North America, and our Pune colleagues were offered the opportunity of some bespoke sessions at a suitable time.
In reality, this provided a great experience for the employees and their little ones, whilst making it trickier from an event management perspective as it meant two of most things (volunteers, session hosts etc). Never one to shy away from a challenge, I settled on 8 different sessions, so 16 in total. From a scheduling point of view, we had 2 sessions running at the same time.
With the help of our Business Support team, we created a Disney-themed quiz for the under 10s and a multi-round quiz for the over 10s including sports, general knowledge and music! We used the platform Kahoot to deliver the quiz as it’s super engaging and simple for the kids to use.
- Quiz time: With the help of our Business Support team, we created a Disney-themed quiz for the under 10s and a multi-round quiz for the over 10s including sports, general knowledge and music! We used the platform Kahoot to deliver the quiz as it’s super engaging and simple for the kids to use.
- Coding sessions: What better for the kids than to see what Mum or Dad (or both!) do on a daily basis! Using the resource code.org we asked members of our tech community to host sessions for two age groups; 6-10 and 10 upwards. These sessions have inspired many of our next generation of Cloudreachers to continue on and develop their coding skills!
- Storytime: Personally, my favourite session of the day! Who doesn’t love storytime? Again, split into two age groups (under 6 and over 6), the kids enjoyed a wonderful selection of stories read to them by Cloudreachers. We understood how important the pictures are, especially for the younger set, so we purchased the e-books and screen-shared. Although the schedule was based around the EMEA/NA afternoon, we were delighted to have one of our EMEA little ones join for the NA session just in time for her bedtime!
- TikTok Masterclass: Thanks to the wonderful family of Ruth Orpwood, General Counsel, Head of Legal & Corporate Services, especially her daughter Katie, it was a delight to host a Tik Tok masterclass. Teaching attendees how to bust out some moves and watch them put it all to music certainly brought some energy to the afternoon.
- Show & Tell: Our incredibly talented, Sydnee Greenberg, Brand Creative and Design Lead, created Cloudreach colouring sheets that we shared company-wide and encouraged the little ones to color and present to us their works of art. For those of whom colouring isn’t their thing, they grabbed their favourite toy/craft/thing and told us all about it!
So “how it did go?” I hear you ask…
Well with a total of 403 minutes of content run by volunteers and most importantly, 56 kids in attendance, I’d say it was a success. But don’t just take it from me, here is what some parents had to say:
“Really great job guys! thank you, you have no idea how nice it is to have little things like this to break up the lock down monotony for the kids”
“It was a wonderful event and so well thought out as it easily catered for the wide ranging age groups in my house (5 to 11) – always a challenge in our house. All three of my children loved it – the interaction, chatting with “work people” and using technology. It was something different for them after another long week couped up at home – they loved the way the Ka-hoot quiz was run and they gained inspiration from the coding session.”
I certainly enjoyed creating and running the day and will take inspiration from this into all of our events moving forward. I’ve seen firsthand how we can create interactive events for a wide audience through creativity, clever scheduling, content creation, and working with the right team.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this – whatever it is, try something new. It might be chaos, but embrace the chaos. Learn and adapt, and you never know what wonderful thing you might just create that has a huge impact on someone’s day.