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Slacks and chats and more: 5 ways your team stays connected

Our Quick Question in the July Insider asked how you stay connected even when you aren't together in person. Your responses mirror researchers' tips for healthy work environments.

In July 2022, we shared that the remote and hybrid work agreements submitted in Axess this year provide a much clearer picture of our current work landscape across Stanford. 

The current state illustrates that as we return to a residential campus experience driven by in-person teaching and research, a majority of employees are working on-site at least some of the time—but with the newly defined “hybrid” work option, along with the multiple Stanford work locations across the Bay Area, not everyone is on-site together at the same time

This means we’ve had to continue to be intentional with our connections, add new team rituals, and lean on digital tools when gathering around a conference table isn’t possible (and make the most of our time together when it is). 

Here’s a summary of what you told us 

1. The teams that Slack together … 

More than half of the responses to the Quick Question mentioned the instant messaging app: My team uses Slack. It's a great way to stay in touch on everything from office moves to personal updates.  

Interesting fact: According to UIT, the Stanford community sent an average of 250,000 Slack messages daily in 2021 and 2022 (not including emojis and reactions). The number of weekly active members increased from 21,000 in May 2021 to 25,000 in May 2022 (employees and students). 

2. Quick daily check-ins are popular and effective.

  • On our team’s Slack channel "#daily-check-in" everyone writes briefly about what they are working on, if they're slammed, if they'll be offline to commute, etc.
  • Quick morning huddle meetings 4 days a week
  • We have a quick 15-minute meeting at the start of each day to touch base with each other

3. You make time for informal connection, which is great, as Stanford researcher BJ Fogg reminds us that work friends matter

  • Team Slack chit chat. In between meetings, we have great banter about what each of us is doing the coming weekend, family updates, and funny anecdotes.
  • We started weekly team huddles (via Zoom) in 2020 that incorporate creative and personal icebreaker questions. 
  • Boba Wednesdays!

4. You have found things that anchor your team; research shows workers like predictability and you don’t leave the in-person connection to chance.

  • We designate two Wednesdays each month for everyone to be on-site at the same time for our staff meeting. 
  • We schedule bi-annual division luncheons well in advance for folks' calendars, and go off-site in Palo Alto to enjoy a festive meal together (~June/July and Dec).

5. You celebrate together.

  • Our FUN Team hosts quarterly all-staff "surprise" birthday parties on Zoom to connect and celebrate colleagues' birthdays. The surprise is that no one knows the activity until they get there. It's a midday opportunity to casually connect, be silly, laugh, have fun and play games together.
  • Shout-outs during our weekly team meetings and sharing experiences with each other over Slack!
  • We use virtual backgrounds on Zoom during our staff meetings to celebrate birthdays or work anniversaries.

Find more inspiration

More about Slack

New tools within Slack at Stanford may improve your experience communicating with each other. Read more on the UIT website:

Managing hybrid/distributed teams

Plan to attend future workshops listed in the Manager Toolkit, and find more ideas and insights from previous Manager Forums with BJ Fogg, Kursat Ozenc from Stanford’s d.School, and other experts who can help you engage team members with low interest in doing things together, reenergize your team, and more.