How to have fun w/ your team when working remotely w/ Lee Rubin, CEO @ Confetti
Replacing real high 5s with virtual ones and building deeper relationships between teams virtually should be a top priority in 2022. How to have fun as a virtual team.
COMPANY CULTUREEMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
Here's the recap...In this episode, I chatted with my buddy, Tyler Sellhorn, the Head of Remote at Polygon. Some companies are still struggling to realize the future of work is now here. The years of work building culture and operations based in an office has to be tossed in the rubbish bin. Many companies that went remote during the pandemic are still fakin' it till they make it. Making the newly popular role 'Head of Remote' quite intriguing. Tyler and I chatted about what the role is and isn't. Who should hire one and who's just wasting time. And is the Head of Remote really the new COO?
1:1 or smaller group events can be more engaging for introverts
Being an introvert doesn't mean someone avoids interaction and engagement with others. Many introverts, including Lee, simply find large groups or meetings with lots of people exhausting. After an event like this, they simply want some peace and quiet to relax and rejuvenate.
So what does that mean if you're creating a company-wide or large team event? Simple awareness of the impact these large events have on introverts is a great first step. Next, is thinking about the needed size and engagement required? If you wanted to do a game or collaboration with a team of 100, 10 teams of 5 would be better than 2 teams to 50.
If this event is part of a whole day, a smart move may be having that larger group event at the end of the day. Allowing the team to then relax/end the day after that larger group engagement. Focus on the smaller interactions earlier in the day.
Outsourced teams are becoming more popular but that doesn't mean they should feel outside.
We spoke about this idea of companies looking like DAOs in a previous episode "The Crypto Future of Work w/ Dror Poleg." The main idea is that companies will start to have smaller core teams that build the core product/business. Contributors and experts will then jump in/out of the team to tackle specific issues or build specific features. They then move on to the next thing and another team comes in later.
You might already be thinking, this team is just a person or group of people 'in the company' for a short time. So there not really part of the company and therefore don't need to be engaged like the rest of the company. Lee raised a great argument to the contrary. Not only should engagement opportunities be created for this 'outsourced' team to build deeper relationships with the core team but should have the same opportunities to build deeper relationships with each other. Since the team itself may have simply been put together for that specific project. Building camaraderie between that group will make them more productive and cohesive and thus replicate that forward with the core team.
How to add interaction & engagement for those events that naturally limit it
Lee helped potentially resolve a big limitation I've felt with some types of events companies are doing with teams. Events like learning chess, doing a wine tasting, or similar have little to no interaction between colleagues. The event is the host teaching the team individually. Unlike an in-person cooking class where a fun food fight could ensue, learning to create some fancy dish at home could be lonely. But there is a way to make these events more engaging, even if the activity itself, isn't.
How can an origami event build team camaraderie and fun? Host a contest via Slack. Submit a photo of your work and have the team select the best origami, more original, or something similar. Sharing photos is a great way to share across the team. Then the contest and banter on the designs add fun and interaction to an event that lacked it. Alternatively after learning how to play chess via class, host a company-wide chess tournament. Employees play each other over a video call. Having the chance to chat, talk a little trash, and have some fun. The top X in these contests win prizes.
Finally for the cooking class. While you may not be cooking with your colleagues, you may instead be able to cook with your kids. Allowing them to have some fun following along with the company event. Once again, take photos and videos of the mess made in your home and the involvement of kids or pets. Share that content in Slack to once again bring more of yourself to work.
Scott - [00:00 - 00:03]
Good morning, Lee. How are you doing today?
Lee - [00:03 - 00:06]
Good morning, Scott. I'm doing great. How about yourself?
Scott - [00:06 - 00:11]
Doing well, it was almost 80 degrees and sunny here today.
Scott - [00:11 - 00:17]
I heard that the weather in New York may not be as nice. How's it going over there?
Lee - [00:17 - 00:46]
Well, lucky for me, I guess I am in Miami right now, so pretty bright and sunny all year long, except for actually in the summertime when there's rain for Hurricane season. So, I'm feeling good weather wise and I'm actually heading off to Asheville today to meet a friend. So I'm excited to kind of travel and stretch.
Scott - [00:46 - 00:53]
Awesome. It's always nice to get out of town and get a change of scenery, especially after the last two and a half years where most people were probably locked down quite a bit.
Scott - [00:53 - 01:20]
The opportunity to get out of the house and get around to new scenery is definitely exciting. I would love to go somewhere myself and hopefully one of these days. Before we dive into the topic today, I just wanted to kind of throw out, as we're trying to do for this season, throw out a new topic that's not related to the episode today. Just to kind of as a conversation starter, I was having this discussion. I can't speak this morning, this discussion yesterday with my team.
Scott - [01:20 - 01:40]
I actually read an article about it this morning. the idea of where benefits and those things are going for startups. and for companies. Remote work used to be a wonderful perk that you could offer even probably through most of the pandemic. Full time remote was a nice perk to add.
Scott - [01:40 - 02:06]
Now it's kind of a requirement. There are a lot of companies, including the CloudApp who I'm with now, are moving to a four day work week and a lot of companies are moving in that direction. So where do you see the next iteration of those benefits that are going to target and hire new talent? If you're hiring remotely now you have access to the best talent that's anywhere in the world, you're now going to have to be fighting over the best of the best. And, it may actually not come down to just salary.
Scott - [02:06 - 02:15]
And again, we're past remote work or potentially past four day work weeks. What do you see is maybe the next iteration of those things that are going to be the sweeteners to get people to join your company?
Lee - [02:15 - 02:54]
Yeah, it's a great question and I'm definitely thinking a lot about the four day work week since it's really gained popularity and as a company and I think still a small growing startup, specifically in the event space that is really truly Monday through Friday right now, but even has the possibility of, being throughout the entire week, seven days a week. And I would say like Airbnb and Uber, those companies never stop. Work Week is a challenge and truly you need a lot of capital in order to do it right.
Lee - [02:54 - 03:20]
I think the next evolution of what this looks like and it's really what we're aiming to try to achieve here at Confetti is essentially two fold. One of them is we don't have an unlimited vacation policy, because I think that brings the wrong context out of what it is that you can do. You can't really take an unlimited vacation. So it's kind of like false marketing. But, we do have an unlimited Take What You Need policy.
Lee - [03:20 - 03:56]
So it's really humanizing the workplace and saying like, look, we're all humans, we know life happens. We don't want to scold you for having to take the week off because your kid is sick and this is life. And so we want to support you through that journey of life. Another thing that we're working towards, the Take What You Need policy has served us well over the past two years of existence. The thing that we're working towards is creating shared work, like workload.
Lee - [03:56 - 04:38]
Sometimes in a company, it's very clear how one person is working harder than the other. But using certain data and KPIs of what the average person can be doing, and creating a more distributed workload and getting more data around that, you can actually say, hey, on days where it's easy at work, it's all easy for everyone. On days that it's hard, it's kind of hard for everyone. And this is obviously a little bit harder to do with, I would say some roles that might be very specialized, like marketing, but for our customer support team, this is what we're transitioning to. So looking at data and seeing how that can be possible.
Scott - [04:38 - 05:12]
Interesting. It's a point that I've spoken about in a couple of episodes, with the move towards getting away from perceived work, is what the office was, right. I saw you in the office, you're the first one in, you're the last one in, you're the one always on the phone. It was a perceived value, perceived work, and then obviously moving towards output. As a customer support person, you answer 20 tickets in Zendesk, you're a developer, you push this bug fix every X in the number of days you're a marketing person, you post a blog post every once a week.
Scott - [05:12 - 05:33]
but one of the challenges that I've been thinking about is there's a lot of positions, especially the operational side, where there really aren't things you can measure. It isn't something. Okay, at the end of the day, I can see this, I can see a new feature, I could see a marketing campaign, I could see support tickets. It's okay. And we're moving towards asynchronous communication.
Scott - [05:33 - 06:04]
How do you measure the output outside of getting feedback, doing pulse surveys beforehand and then kind of during the process and over the process. It's not the same sense in output and how you measure that. So I think those are the things that have been going around my head as the world transitions more towards output based. And I think even beyond that, next generation will be impact based. and the most bang for the buck versus, making a certain number of sales per day.
Scott - [06:04 - 06:17]
yeah, I think it's an interesting idea of what you're trying to do and how you kind of quantify certain areas within the company will be quite interesting, to see usually the first way.
Lee - [06:17 - 06:43]
I agree with you that measuring the impact of apps and creating these polls checks is currently one of the only ways to kind of quantify that we see as saying, hey, what's your pain point? Measure it from one to ten how challenging this current action is for you. Create a solution to it and say, Is this an improvement? How much has that gone away?
Scott - [06:43 - 06:49]
yeah, it's one of those things with remote work and the future of work that will come to find out.
Scott - [06:49 - 07:04]
It's a lot of hypothesis at this point, but we'll take time and make mistakes and do things right to figure out what works and what doesn't. But usually the way that we start off is just to tell us a little bit more about yourself and the origin story of Confetti.
Lee - [07:04 - 07:32]
Absolutely. Well, first of all, thanks for having me, Scott. I'm really happy to be here, and I hope that the information that we share in today's session brings value to the people that are listening to value. I know you and I have the same goals in mind, so that's what connected us between me and you. I'm Liam, the founder and CEO of Confetti, and at this point, I actually founded Confetti just around eight years ago, so it's been quite a journey since.
Lee - [07:32 - 08:21]
And the way that it originally started, I sometimes think like, oh, my gosh, I started at the age of 23, and now I'm in my 30s. So Confetti really originated when I was working at another startup and I witnessed Co Workers struggle with the confusing and complicated process of organizing team events with really zero event planning experience. We were given a very generous $120 per employee per month to spend on team building. So the intention was very good, and the intention was there. But a lot of the time the team would go and spend it on alcohol and go to the bar, and then HR would be like, hey, you all need to stop spending our culture budget on alcohol.
Lee - [08:21 - 09:02]
You need to go and do something like, a productive team building event. At the time, I was actually the only female on my team, which is why I think sometimes the guys were like, Lee, you go ahead and you plan the events for the team. And I had no idea how to plan a team building event. So I started going to the Internet and I started searching for vendors, and I started negotiating with them different contracts and realized that this was an extremely time intensive process to put together an event. And when you're given a budget of $120 per month, by the time you finish planning and you do the event, you're off to the next event and you need to plan the next one.
Lee - [09:02 - 10:03]
So it really made me ask myself, is there an easier way to create meaningful events that are simple to plan and ones that genuinely bring the team closer and improve work culture? So fast forward a few years after that kind of initial creation of the idea and working as a really corporate event, planning almost like an agency style portion of the business. I'd always had the dreams of building it, with technology in mind. So I partnered up with Eyal, my co-founder and CTO, and we came together to build an intuitive online marketplace designed specifically for this purpose. And I think what was special about the journey is that over the first year, two years of building confetti, I really went to solve the simplicity of trying to make events really easy to plan.
Lee - [10:03 - 10:36]
And then I realized that the impact of creating an event that really has value and that people really enjoy truly brings people together. And when you do that in a corporate setting, when you bring people together, it improves the culture, it improves the way that they work together. And I thought to myself, if you do this on a consistent basis, would this actually make the company more successful? And seeing thousands of companies and building on their culture over the past few years, I can constantly say that it does.
Scott - [10:36 - 10:38]
I completely agree with you.
Scott - [10:38 - 11:08]
It's something that has been needed for a long time in remote work, even just, I think for small teams, not necessarily an entire company, what is the entire company going to do? I've been a big believer in ACYC for a while and am trying to move meetings, team meetings, one on one meetings. I'm doing that now with my teams now of all the work related stuff, pushing that towards Async and using that time that's in the calendar for more team building, whether it's one on one or whether it's with the team. And I think number one is just coming up with ideas of things to do. Right.
Scott - [11:08 - 11:16]
It's okay. Do we play a game? What do we do? Especially if you're doing this every week, every two weeks. How many times can you play whiteboard Pictionary?
Scott - [11:16 - 11:30]
How many times can you do a Netflix party? There's so many things that you have no idea what's out there. Then does a leader or does a manager have the time to be able to go and search okay, what ideas? What can I find? What's the call for all the logistics around it?
Scott - [11:30 - 12:00]
So I think Confetti is here at the absolute perfect time that there's such a desperate need. The world is now as a standard remote work. The culture of peace, I think, hasn't caught up to where remote is and where remote is going. And I think that's obviously in the process, team events and team building and team engagement is one of the most important pieces that needs to have that emphasis that needs to be prioritized for this year and for next year. And again, I think you're in a perfect place to be able to help companies just make it simple.
Scott - [12:00 - 12:10]
Find something to look through, like Airbnb type things. Okay. What types of things we want to do easily. Great event that happens, every week or whenever, we need it.
Lee - [12:10 - 12:17]
Thank you. Yeah, it's been a beautiful journey, and in fact, it's been immense.
Scott - [12:17 - 12:22]
Yeah. So the first easy question is what kind of programs and events does Confetti offer?
Lee - [12:22 - 12:47]
Yeah, good question. I will also say that given the fact that we started at this 8 years ago, we were originally born for the in person world. This is what the original Confetti vision was all about. And when Cobin hit, everyone thought that we would be in a lot of trouble. Our investors were very much concerned.
Lee - [12:47 - 13:10]
but we really took the opportunity to pivot and be agile and test ourselves to new limits. And that was when we moved over to virtual. So today, there's three main categories of events that Confetti offers. There's hosted games like Coworker Feud or themed ones like Woman History Day, Jeopardy. We have hosted experiences.
Lee - [13:10 - 13:39]
This is like Drag Queen Trivia, which is great for Pride Month, which is coming up, Black History Museums Storytelling Tour, which was great for this February Black History Month, and Shippable experiences. And these include everything like cookie baking to tequila tasting. And we've recently just launched a new category called Goodies, which allows you to add things like snacks, drinks, prizes, and other goodies, to your experience as well.
Scott - [13:39 - 13:56]
I like that idea. from the data that you're seeing in the companies that are using Confetti, are there specific use cases that you're seeing so far of, the type of events that are interesting and maybe around certain milestones or even is it just based on, like, team fun?
Scott - [13:56 - 14:01]
Or maybe is it specific, on leadership building? Do you have any use cases or any kind of commonality so far that you're saying?
Lee - [14:01 - 14:25]
yeah, it's a good question. So I think that there's really a broad range of use cases for these types of events. And obviously the clearest one that people are often coming to us for is that team building, that team bonding. And I'm sure, Scott, you've been through this. Now that we're in a fully remote environment.
Lee - [14:25 - 14:59]
There are much more limited, spontaneous moments of connection. So in the in person world, we have these over the counter kitchen moments, or you turn a corner and you're like, hey, Bob, how's it going? You need to find new ways to create that in today's world. So the team building is really for connecting these employees together and trying to get them to step away from their work for a minute and see each other as the individuals, actually, that we're working with. And that works, in a few different ways.
Lee - [14:59 - 15:36]
For example, in that onboarding phase of a new employee, this is a very integral time to connect them to all their new colleagues and again, humanize the work. Because you get nervous when you're on your first day at the job or the first week or first month. There's a lot of proving that you need to do and what's something that kind of break the ice and to just realize that your boss is a little goofy and that's kind of fun gives you the ability to be a little bit more confident. The other thing is there are more companies stepping into what's called, like, an agile workforce. So they build together different teams for different projects.
Lee - [15:36 - 16:10]
And these are people that haven't worked together before. So a project based team building where you're saying, hey, Scott and Lee, you're going to work on a fun podcast together. Before you do that, why don't you play a little game of charades just to break the ice and get each other comfortable with one another? And then, of course, there's really how good games are a great supporting factor for creating these elements of team building.
Lee - [16:10 - 16:56]
So the fact that Black History Month was this month, and I'm actually particularly excited about this, and at least in the past, Black History Month didn't hit as much. It wasn't one of our most popular experiences or collections on the platform, but this year that's really changed. And it's showing that more companies are getting themselves involved in the kind of cultural elements that build a good company. Woman's History Month is coming up, and we did a recent PR article, and one of our hosts, and vendors, Dante, said this is showing that companies are celebrating.
Lee - [16:57 - 17:13]
It's easier. Okay, cool. There was a little flash on the screen, so I just want to make sure it's still on. One of our vendors recently shared that these people are celebrated.
Lee - [17:13 - 17:45]
They're not just accepted. This isn't just a check box, this is a group of people within the company that are truly celebrated in the workforce. Then there is health and wellness, meditation, fitness classes, desert size, which is our fun little yoga, but things that you can do in front of the desk to keep you stretched. Educational and cultural experiences, whether it's learning how to fold origami taking a tour at the Natural History Museum. And ultimately my belief is that when we are cultured, we are more accepting.
Lee - [17:45 - 18:12]
And there's a talking point that we can have when we're in front of the people that we're working with that should be diverse. And whether it's our own co workers or clients or vendors, this is all reasons that make the business stronger. And things that we're looking forward to is professional development and leadership. How do we create fun experiences that really develop these professional elements of us?
Scott - [18:12 - 18:14]
Yeah, there are two points I really like.
Scott - [18:14 - 18:29]
Maybe let's try to unpack this a little bit. I'll start with the second one. First around diversity. And I think that's one of the benefits that I don't think anybody really thought about with remote work. When you're hiring across the world, you're hiring different languages and cultures and religions and things like that.
Scott - [18:29 - 18:50]
And kind of just by default by proxy, you're making your team more diverse. And like you said, I think having that opportunity to celebrate that and it's not just, oh, okay, great. We have some different languages, we have some different cultures here. Okay, that's nice. But really, trying to put an emphasis on that and build engagement points and build programs around that.
Scott - [18:50 - 19:32]
I think it's super fascinating and love to hear more about that. I think the second one, which is also interesting, is the project team. And this is something that came up in a couple of podcasts, one probably about two podcasts ago with a fellow Jordan, who is speaking very into the future of work and crypto and things like that. The topic of the show was crypto, the future of work. And in theory, how companies in the future may look and act very much like DAOs, where you have like a central core system, like a team, like a founding team that comes in and then, as you said, you bring in a handful of people to do some project and then they come in and out and they're interchangeable and they can contribute where needed.
Scott - [19:32 - 20:04]
And never really thought about that aspect of how you have these four or five number of people that are coming together as a team to work on a project. Hey, it's important to engage them to build a relationship between them as well, because they're probably not a team coming together. There's lots of these teams. I know there's one here in Israel, a team amongst other ones, who are taking a great designer and a great developer and a product manager. So those people may not have worked with each other or maybe even if they have, they're probably just focused on work.
Scott - [20:04 - 20:21]
So there is no relationship building there. So it's very interesting, like that idea to say, okay, even this outsource team or this team was coming in for a certain project, it's important to engage them and build a relationship with them as much as is with the rest of the team. That's very interesting.
Lee - [20:21 - 20:44]
Yeah. You're spot on with that. Ultimately, the way that I see it is some of the biggest friction points that happen in a workplace is communication based. And there's often a very challenging lack of empathy to fully understand people's jobs. Literally, what are they responsible for?
Lee - [20:44 - 21:02]
I once learned about consumer behavior back in College where when you see your roommate or if you see the person that you're living with, your significant other, it's always very easy to be like, I'm the one who's doing the most work in this. I'm taking out the trash.
Scott - [21:02 - 21:03]
Lee - [21:03 - 21:13]
And it's because you're actually doing the work. So you obviously know and your memory is very clearly linked to the work that you're doing.
Lee - [21:13 - 21:37]
When you're not doing the work that other people are doing, it's very hard for you to empathize and say, wow, you are doing a lot. I forgot that you cleaned the windows the other day, and that's so hard to do. Similarly, in a workplace, if you're not doing somebody's job and you don't know the intricacies of their professional life, it's very hard to empathize and say, hey, what are you doing over there in marketing.
Scott - [21:37 - 21:41]
team just writing blogs all day. Like, nobody reads those things.
Lee - [21:41 - 22:17]
So what I think the beauty of team building really does is before we jump into working together on these projects, why don't we actually just view ourselves as two human beings? And the next time you go into that challenging conversation with someone, instead of you having that energy of saying, like, oh, Scott, what did you do here? Did you even work on this? It's more like I saw your kids on the Zoom video the other day. They were so cute.
Lee - [22:17 - 22:32]
They were running in the background. And, like, these are the moments that actually take a breath and recognize the person for who they are. And then let's have that conversation in a constructive and a productive way.
Scott - [22:32 - 22:45]
I love that. Even bringing back your point about the onboarding process, if you're a company in a kind of hyper scale where you're onboarding three, four, five, multiple people every week or month and things like that, and you're maybe using, like, an onboarding class.
Scott - [22:45 - 23:07]
That's an interesting opportunity where let's run these events just for the onboarding class. and even if you may not be on the same team, but try, like, you're new, so you're all new together. And how do you build that relationship at the beginning that maybe then helps you once you've moved into your team, how to collaborate better with people and other teams. That's very interesting. yeah.
Scott - [23:07 - 23:31]
Moving to the next question. There's still many companies, Unfortunately, I'll call fortunately, that, are still focused around a hybrid model. And I won't rant on that in this episode, which is how to get to the most important point. But for companies that are operating in hybrid. So, again, they may have people in a central headquarters at home or multiple spaces in home or whatever that looks like.
Scott - [23:31 - 23:58]
What do you think would be the optimal format for doing these types of events for hybrid companies? Is it doing, like, a concurrent on site event at the same time as a virtual one? Is it separating them? So your on site team gets like one type of event separate from your remote team, or is saying, hey, everyone, the company is getting the same virtual experience. So even if you're in the same office, you're all going to be on the same Zoom in your own little box making origami, or doing wine tasting.
Scott - [23:58 - 24:04]
Again, from the data, what you're seeing with the companies, what do you think is the optimal format for these hybrid companies?
Lee - [24:04 - 24:30]
Yeah, this is genuine and transparent. This is a hard one, and I want to preface that. Remote work is still considerably new, all things considered, for the large majority of companies. Right. And even if you take life before Covet, essentially, there was usually two things that we found.
Lee - [24:30 - 25:03]
One of them was companies that were fully remote. And because there wasn't an appetite for virtual events, there weren't a lot of things for them to do in a professional structure. There was also another thing that I learned earlier on in the Pandemic, which I thought was super interesting. And there were companies that had this hybrid model, right? They had their employees in the office, and they had some of their more junior employees that were remote.
Lee - [25:03 - 25:38]
The people that often worked at the warehouse that they didn't actually see fully as their real employees. And what we found out is once COVID hit and we had the opportunity of all of a sudden doing virtual events, these companies that had these hybrid models all of a sudden invited the people that worked at the warehouse or that worked remotely. And because this was the first time that these people were invited, those people were confused. They literally didn't attend the event.
Scott - [25:38 - 25:39]
Lee - [25:39 - 25:59]
And these HR people would come to them and say, hey, we invited you to the virtual happy hour. Why haven't all of you come? And they would respond saying, you never invited us before. So what's changed? Like, we were never really part of this team before.
Lee - [25:59 - 26:41]
What is the difference now? And I think that in the past we can't make the same mistakes. And I'm seeing a lot of trends right now that have these swanky retreats. And part of my fear is that companies are going to become, again following that same pattern where only the top employees or the elite employees get to see each other in person. And then there's everyone else that gets subjected to that Zoom happy hour because it's a lot more affordable to get people together remotely than in person.
Lee - [26:41 - 26:57]
This is something we need to be very careful of. To add to that, I think that ultimately a lot of things come down to budget. And, I don't want to pick on Etsy. I'm a huge fan of them. I love what they're doing.
Lee - [26:57 - 27:27]
I love their parental leave policy. But I'll give that as an example to start this conversation, because Etsy put together an incredibly generous parental leave policy, like one that I would love to give my employees. I think they have like, six months of fully paid rental leave for fostering, for adopting, for both genders. Anything you can imagine, it was incredibly generous. And they had a hashtag that said, Show us your leave.
Lee - [27:27 - 27:55]
And I think that this is challenging because I'm a small startup. I don't have the essentially infinite pocket that has to give this parental leave policy. And I think companies need to be careful not to shame other companies that just don't have these big budgets. This is a challenge. I would love to send all my employees to the south of Spain to do an upcoming retreat.
Lee - [27:55 - 28:19]
We don't have that capital yet. So it's really a matter of doing what it is that you can do right. Maybe a low income family has that special moment in their time together. The family is going and grabbing ice cream. And maybe for some other families that are more fortunate that ice cream is something that they do every single day.
Lee - [28:19 - 28:55]
And it's like, not that special moment. So I think that intention is the most important thing, and communication is the most important thing that's going to build a healthy culture. Now, to answer your question, because I do want to answer it, what does this ideal event distribution look like? And I think that the way that we're approaching it here at Confetti is you should try to find an equal distribution. What I'm saying is, if most of your employees are remote, then do more emphasis on virtual events.
Lee - [28:55 - 29:24]
If your employees are mainly in person, do more in person events. I do think that you need to be wary that, again, the super cool events, you're not leaving the people that are remote out. So not to repeat that same mistake. Other than that, there also needs to be a fair understanding from the employees. And a good example of that is like, precovered Confetti would do a bunch of ice cream parties at offices.
Lee - [29:24 - 29:44]
Right? An ice cream party is something that's much easier to do when you're in person by bringing a bunch of tubs of ice cream. And it hits less when you're just shipping someone a pint of ice cream for them to enjoy in their house. So there needs to be a fair understanding from employees. There will be differences between in person events and virtual events.
Lee - [29:44 - 30:16]
But what we're doing at least for, our team. And moving forward, now that we're raising our R Series A, we're allocating a budget for one global off site for all teams to get together. It has to be everyone in terms of the opportunity to join and needs to be distributed to everyone. And then currently with our size, we can also do one local offsite. That means either team members that are cross departmental can meet in an area region that's like the northeast, the west, coast.
Lee - [30:16 - 30:41]
And then the rest is virtual. And the distribution that we currently have both internally and recommend externally is there should be one larger quarterly event. This is something that usually is 60 minutes to 120 minutes. It's something that's very generous. An example of what we did on Thanksgiving is we did a hand pie baking class so people can invite their kids.
Lee - [30:41 - 31:07]
And it could be up on occasion, one smaller quarterly event. So an example for that is for Valentine's Day, we did employees, apparlatives, and each team was broken out and had to create the perlatives for the other team. And then we had in our town hall a full showcasing of all those superlatives. And then often one gift related experience. And this could be a mug swap or we send champagne for a milestone.
Lee - [31:07 - 31:12]
So you want to have one touch point per month with your employees.
Scott - [31:12 - 31:30]
I love that. It's something exactly in line. What I've been saying to companies for the past. I don't know for many years that if you haven't done a budget for even just once a year to get the team together or been perhaps similar to you have maybe one quarterly so the team can get together maybe twice, twice a year.
Scott - [31:30 - 32:17]
What do you do in between those times? Is it just kind of like nothing and you're relying on that one or two times a year that you get together and that's when you do something? Or is this where you have the virtual events and the different things like that you've been mentioning in between those to continue building those relationships, to make those opportunities, that you actually get to see each other even more rewarding and even more eventful that you've been building these relationships, playing games or swapping mugs or doing, like, whatever may be for the last few months now, when you get to sit there in person, sitting next to them, again, that relationship no deepens and continues to deepen after that for all the future events. I think that's, very interesting, a question that gets more towards the virtual type of events. But how can companies engage introverts with these team events?
Scott - [32:17 - 32:35]
Because, again, maybe the person is not there so you can't physically engage them and they're sitting behind the Zoom screen similar to this. And it's a lot easier for them to kind of be quiet in the background. So how can companies really make sure that their introverts are engaged in these virtual events.
Lee - [32:35 - 33:05]
Yeah. So I've actually been thinking about this a lot this week. In general, what does it mean to be engaged and what does participation look like? Does participation just means showing up or does participation mean actively engaging? I think for introverts, there's obviously also a wide array of what introverts can actually mean for some people.
Lee - [33:05 - 33:28]
It doesn't mean that I don't like socializing with people. It might just mean that they want to socialize with a small group of people and they prefer not to be in bigger groups or for some people. And I would consider myself an introvert that sometimes acts like an extrovert. So it's misrepresented as an extrovert. I very much gain energy when I'm in a one to one situation.
Lee - [33:28 - 33:44]
So I know we have hopefully an audience of people that are listening, but to me, you and I are in a room kind of together, so this actually gives me energy. But once I'm in a crowd of people and there's like hundreds of people around me, I come home and I'm like.
Scott - [33:44 - 33:45]
I need to take a nap.
Lee - [33:45 - 34:28]
so social is a lot of things, but I think as humans, we all enjoy socializing. We enjoy that human connection and deepening our understanding of ourselves, of the world. And if you give that opportunity to people, any person, I think that pretty much everyone's going to reach out and grab that. I think that the conversation that I'm curious about having when it comes to what is an introvert or what are these people within a group that aren't participating is really looking at what is the quality of a good leader. And yesterday I was preparing for this talk.
Lee - [34:28 - 34:40]
I was thinking to myself, like, extrovert is if you go on Google and you type like qualities of a leader, you're not going to get extrovert on any of those lists. that I've seen.
Scott - [34:40 - 34:45]
oh, that's not good.
Lee - [34:45 - 35:24]
There's plenty of other things, but I think that the ones that come closest to what's considered an extrovert are people with charisma or people with really great communication skills or people who have the drive ability to develop others or empathize or support. These are all qualities that dignify what is a good leader. And I think that part of that responsibility is on the host. Right. We purposely have a closed marketplace because for us, the quality of the vendors that we're bringing on to confetti is extremely important.
Lee - [35:24 - 36:02]
We know that a truly good event and a truly good host brings that human element that we all possess out. And we love getting the testimonials where people say even the quiet one participated. and I think that on the flip side, from a management perspective and more things that we're looking into doing in 2022 is how do we build more levels of data to share with the head of HR or the leaders? Hey, these are the people that participated, and I think a good leader understands that their participation is crucial in a team building event. And if it's great, then amazing, right?
Lee - [36:02 - 36:24]
Hopefully, it naturally makes them want to participate. But even if it's bad, that level of participation is important for your team. And I think that kind of like when you go on. I love comparing business to I, don't know. But I always see the synergies of one to the other.
Lee - [36:24 - 36:44]
So we've all had a bad meal before. We've all gone on a date and had just, like, the meal flop. And, of course, you can go on that date and say, what a terrible meal and feel like the kind of the negative person. I was like, gosh, this is such a bummer. This is awful.
Lee - [36:44 - 37:08]
Or you can laugh it off and take that moment to be with your team and be like, this is a natural process. This shouldn't stop you from eating at restaurants forever. This shouldn't stop you from going on another date. But taking that on, being like, oh, remember that team building event that we had that was so corny? Or, hey, remember that really amazing team building event compared to this one?
Lee - [37:08 - 37:12]
Like, take that moment to kind of appreciate what you kind of have.
Scott - [37:12 - 37:19]
No, I love that idea. It's taking a negative situation, trying to turn it positive. Yeah, you remember that? Remember what happened?
Scott - [37:19 - 38:00]
Actually, it's very interesting and even potentially like a learning experience, like you said, of maybe sending out Pulse surveys afterwards, whether it's through confetti or other tools, and being able to learn what events are good and what or not, what people like, what people don't like. So the team knows and confetti knows. How can we improve the quality and the types of events that we're doing to make sure that each and every event is engaging, rewarding, and entertaining. So you never have to have those moments where you try to laugh on past failures. But the communication opportunity and that feedback is certainly core, even for a poor experience or something that wasn't as fun is definitely a great learning opportunity.
Scott - [38:00 - 38:02]
I completely agree with that.
Lee - [38:02 - 38:20]
Exactly. You can better refine what people want by learning from that experience, asking what people like, seeing how they like to spend their time. As you mentioned, creating surveys, post the events. You can be like, all right, we're not going to do that again.
Lee - [38:20 - 38:33]
Or, hey, we're going to do that again. Whatever those things are. Use data that you're collecting to start steering the team towards better engagement. But not doing something just because you had a bad experience isn't a good experience.
Scott - [38:33 - 38:33]
Scott - [38:33 - 39:16]
My next question is also around the idea of virtual events and moving again from what we were doing in the office together from now what we're doing virtual. I've spoken to a number of companies that are creating these types of events for virtual teams. And for me, the single biggest unlock for the company who is able to find this called Magic Unlock, will be those interactions between employees. How does confetti and your thoughts of the types of events you do? Because it's great if you're in the office and you're doing a cooking lesson right before you could have a food fight, you could throw dough on somebody or flour, you're doing a game and high fives and things like that.
Scott - [39:16 - 39:59]
And you have, like, that interaction, that person to person interaction when you're in the same space that you don't have now when doing, like, a chess thing or an origami, again, it's nice and interesting, but it's missing out on that person to person interaction. I think for me, that's, like, the key of what successful events will be. It's like, okay, if you're just learning how to play chess or learning how to make origami that's fun. But it was just me in a box in my Zoom box, and there was nothing to do with anybody else. So I would love to hear how you're thinking about it and how you're working to make sure that all the events and what teams can be doing to make sure they're looking for those right events have those interactions between teams, even if it's like a chess thing.
Scott - [39:59 - 40:08]
Okay, you learn how to play chess, but then you play chess against each other. So there's still, like, that one to one or one to group interactions instead of just being me here in this box.
Lee - [40:08 - 40:37]
Totally. I think that, there's a handful of things I can say, and one of them is naturally, each category of the experiences that I had mentioned earlier really allows for different things, as you mentioned, things like, origami where you're following an instructor, you're doing things. But it's relatively like, I don't know what they sign them because there are ways that even our hosts are engaging the team.
Lee - [40:37 - 41:38]
Whether there's a playlist in the background and you're watching how people are dancing or you're really encouraging comments in the chat, or you're getting the host to show people, hey, talk to me about the work on me that you did and people like, show it or then just having, it on your desk and people can see it in your next Zoom meeting. So there's all these elements. I think that when it comes to the events, world and games is a great vehicle to express that interpersonal interaction by getting a good enough post. And again, my emphasis on quality experiences is definitely my overall belief in how we can create these interpersonal interactions, because a good host can facilitate that. On a different note, I think I know that it's totally possible because I do see my team with us today.
Lee - [41:38 - 42:14]
It's allowing your team members to be playful while they are at work and not creating a culture that shows that if they're playful, or if they're fun or if they're silly, that they're not professionals. And we should have clear goals, clear objectives that show that people are professionals. We should have 360 degree reviews so employees can grade their managers. Managers can grade their employees, and that is what people are graded on. That is what professionalism means.
Lee - [42:14 - 42:55]
Professionalism shouldn't mean, hey, you know, I have a silly Zoom background or I use emojis, so therefore I'm not a professional, or I like to use gifts. I'm not a professional. So you have to first build a culture that is truly authentic and intentional in the actions that you're doing. If I'm going to be asking you how your day is, or I'm going to be carving out those five minutes at the beginning of a meeting to learn a little bit about you before we start talking about the essence of the conversation, then do it real. Give people a good question.
Lee - [42:55 - 43:09]
Don't just do it as a checkbox. If you are busy, then one thing that we also normalize here at Confetti is, hey, so sorry. On a case schedule today. Let's just handle the checklist. Let's just power through it.
Lee - [43:09 - 43:48]
And that's also okay. You can give room for both things, but truly allow people to just be themselves. I want to also share that my co-founder and I haven't seen each other in two and a half years, ever since COVID happened. And when people tell me that you can't solve all problems in a virtual workplace, I really think to myself, Gosh, me and this man, they're not going to be solved virtually. We in person events to virtual events.
Lee - [43:48 - 44:15]
We grew our team from ten to 60. We have raised capital, and no one needs to see my feet or my legs in order to solve an operational bottle. Right? There are so many beautiful tools today to bridge that gap. I think that the tactical ways to create this interpersonal connection during an event is hiring a professional, keeping things fun and fresh.
Lee - [44:15 - 44:55]
So sometimes you're doing a game that really requires that connection, and sometimes you're doing that origami that's a little bit more of an experience that you're doing with yourself or with your friends, family, kids, whatever it is in that Zoom cream. I think the other thing is accepting that virtual events are different, but that difference can often be better. And I think that and a good example of that is cooking classes. Right in the in person world for professionals like team building cooking classes, you'd have to share a kitchen with often multiple people in that room, whether it's twelve people or 40 people. It's too many cooks in the kitchen, literally.
Lee - [44:55 - 45:07]
And when you're in a virtual setting, everyone has a kitchen at home. So being able to include your kids and your family is usually a privilege that you weren't able to do in the input.
Scott - [45:07 - 45:08]
You got it.
Lee - [45:08 - 45:27]
And now you have it. So bring your dog into the Zoom room and allow your team to just be themselves. Have that sarcasm, have those gifts, have those emojis the current day way of expressing themselves and don't count it against them.
Scott - [45:27 - 45:46]
Interesting. I want to bring up one point that I absolutely loved before I get to the last question, especially about those potentially siloed alone time events like origami of bringing that culture of take a picture of your origami share your art short pictures within Slack.
Scott - [45:46 - 46:05]
Maybe do a contest, maybe the best looking origami, or the best thing, like wins an award or something like that. Then you can take those opportunities of having a static loan type event and build that engagement with the team around it, even maybe outside of that event. That's fascinating. That's fantastic. Last question.
Scott - [46:05 - 46:22]
I know we're getting low on time for leaders who are listening to this podcast inspired by saying, hey, I need to do some kind of engagement. I need to do something fun for my team to instill this happiness and engagement there. But they may not have a budget. it's kind of spoken. Maybe early stage teams.
Scott - [46:22 - 46:30]
You have maybe three things that teams could do or leaders could do that could be maybe free or at a very low cost. Again, they can do it today.
Lee - [46:30 - 46:49]
Totally. So a few things. One of them is, naturally, the Internet is an incredible resource. So there are so many things that you can Google today and do. One example, as I had mentioned, for Valentine's Day, we did superlative.
Lee - [46:49 - 47:19]
So we broke teams off into smaller groups and we had each team choose a superlative for the members of another group. So some examples are like, best meeting. backgrounds are most likely to snack during call and then we present those in the next town hall and you hire both. It was a great way, an opportunity to just meet other people on the team and existing employees, learn something about, even like our longest standing team members. That was very fun and special.
Lee - [47:19 - 47:56]
Another example for Halloween, we had everyone who wanted to purchase, put on costumes, in the past that were very elaborate. And then we made a competition where people voted on who had the best costume. And this is connecting your personal life with a professional. We didn't ask them to show up in costume, creating ice breaker questions just in the beginning of that call. I think there are two other things that are similar to the team building category.
Lee - [47:56 - 48:40]
Two other fun things that we've done at Confetti. One of them is we have very recurring group playlists that allow us, pre meetings, to kind of always launch using one of the suggestions that people put there's always comments in that black chat about what are the songs for the week that we're going to be in. There's always some kind of banter around that. And then lastly, curated black groups in general, whether it's essentially our, Confetti pet channel is definitely one of our most popular but allowing people to bring that cat, that dog, that hamster, whatever it is, those funny photos into the workplace and again, just humanizing. It all amazing.
Scott - [48:40 - 48:50]
There are so many amazing little points that have come out in this episode. Thank you so much for listening who want to get a hold of you? Find out more about you. More about confetti.
Scott - [48:50 - 48:54]
What's the best way to get a hold of you getting a hold of Confetti?
Lee - [48:54 - 49:09]
Absolutely. So for Confetti, really, simple. All you have to do is go online and go to
withConfetti.com. We have an intercom chat. You can really just message us with anything that you have any questions for.
Lee - [49:09 - 49:30]
We're happy to schedule a call and get on the phone with you. As for me, I like to stay very accessible to people. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org feel, free to email me, ask me any questions. Love helping early stage entrepreneurs get their business up and running. And feel free to follow me on LinkedIn.
Lee - [49:30 - 49:32]
I'm very much excited for the years to come.
Scott - [49:32 - 49:42]
Amazing. We'll put those profiles, and information in the show notes and Lee, again, thank you so much for sharing the amazing insights and the conversation today. And I guess until the next episode. Have a great day everybody.