How are Virtual All-Hands Meetings Keeping Workplaces Cohesive During Lockdown

Have you been missing your co-workers while working from home lately? Don’t worry, we all are. With humanity trying to survive COVID-19, governments are trying to shut everything down so people move about less and less. This means more work-from-home desks and chairs are being bought for our home offices. But wait, with only one desk and chair to use, don’t you think we’ve all gone into an isolation frenzy?

At Sedenius Technologies we always make sure that we have our rubber ducks on the desk to give us company. However, with COVID-19 giving us a tough time, we need something more human than a rubber duck to keep the work going. So, soon after the pandemic hit, we did what needed to be done. We called everyone to a coffee meetup. Virtual coffee meetup called an All-Hands. Although the concept of an All-Hands meeting at workplaces has been there for quite some time now, the need for it has increased manifold since the pandemic hit. We are all bound to our home offices with our music playlist being the only sound we hear while working – besides the noise of our family members who occasionally barge into the room unnecessarily. And just when you feel like standing up from your desk to chat with a fellow teammate, you realize you are at home! In this scenario, weekly All-Hands meetings are trying to bridge the distance between you and your fellow teammates.

Sedenius Technologies started as a small team in 2018 and it has come a long way having grown into 32 super talented team members. It continues to grow and expand as we speak, and it is all due to the team cohesion maintained by the managers through various activities. With the pandemic upon us, it is very easy to feel isolated and experience cabin fever. As a team, we like to stay updated on how our colleagues are doing. The bi-weekly meeting (aka the All-Hands meeting) is one of the many ways that we do so. It is roughly a one-hour informal conversation that we have been having as a bi-weekly activity since the 23rd of December 2020. Each bi-weekly does not necessarily have to have a preset agenda, it can even be a discussion about the most awaited Friends Series Reunion! Mostly we use a few minutes to get up to speed on any important announcements in the organization, team members can ask any questions from the managers and give any feedback to them. From then on, the floor is open for all sorts of chit-chat that the team members would like to have. Depending on their respective schedules, team members may participate and leave whenever they like, as it is not a mandatory activity for everyone to attend. It is, however, an enjoyable sitting that one would not want to miss unless there is something super important on their schedule. The last bi-weekly meeting agenda at Sedenius Technologies was a mixture of a newcomer introduction session and a casual discussion between the team including the CEO Daniyal Yasin and CTO Aadil Jaleel Choudhry. As 50% of the team was working from the office premises, four of the members shared a screen from the office meeting room where they were also having lunch side by side.

While this bi-weekly gives us all a chance to be less workaholic for a short time, there are times when these types of meetings may spill over their assigned time slot, unintentionally. This happens when the discussion is so intriguing that nobody wants to exit the meeting room. But that’s alright, one way to curb the time spent is to set alarms, like bots in Slack, to remind you that the meeting time is almost over, and you might as well get back to work. Another, not so serious, concern is that where every team member is encouraged to turn on their webcams during an All-Hands, some just don’t like to do so. And motivating them for this requires a lot of work. For shy members as such, a great way is to encourage everyone to start using avatars and virtual backgrounds while they have their webcams turned on during an All-Hands meeting. In this way, if everyone uses their avatars, the shy members can participate without hesitation.

All-Hands meetings are more like virtual town halls that aim to bring teammates to one platform every once in a periodic while. In this way, any ideas, opinions, and feedbacks that have long settled in the minds of the members get a chance to resurface during the conversation. We’re just glad we get to share a cup of coffee with our teammates every once in a while, even if it is from our homes!