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Connecting Teams Digitally: Together even when apart

September 11, 2020

How we are helping teams adapt to COVID-19 restrictions to keep our global community connected, learning, and engaged

Working from home amidst restrictions to our movement and ability to gather has pushed organizations to help employees adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic. While adapting has been a challenge, digital alternatives such as videoconferencing allow us to remove or transcend our geographic limitations and enhance the global network that makes us who we are.

At Stantec, our Developing Professionals Group (DPG) is finding opportunity in new ways to learn, connect, and improve our processes.

Virtual learning events

Lunch and learns, site tours, and professional development training are just a few examples of how the DPG provides opportunity for teams to cross-pollinate learning and knowledge sharing. As we face work from home orders and other limitations to gathering, facilitating these opportunities for coaching and mentorship becomes even more important.

Finding the right time for professional development sessions can be challenging—what is the best time that suits everyone without impacting daily productivity? If this were an in-person event at the office, it may have been scheduled during lunchtime, but at the onset of COVID-19, DPG teams were uncertain if this would garner the same response on a virtual platform. If attendance dropped, people would be missing these critical opportunities for career improvement and advancement.

Ultimately, moving to virtual platforms has turned out just as successfully, given the flexibility. Other events, like our public speaking program which once saw individuals gather in a board room, now recommend that teams “dial in to dial up.” With meetings, project interviews, and most social distanced communications occurring over a videoconference call, virtual learning programs will not only continue enhancing employee skills as intended, but also help build capacity for new skills and opportunities such as geographically open hiring. 

Virtual social events

DPG has also had to think about how social events can shift to virtual platforms in a way that keeps morale up and helps us stay engaged in this challenging time. While casual, ‘get-to-know-you’ events were hosted at different locations after work hours, it was initially difficult for our teams to create peer connections in a digital format. To inspire this connection, we introduced more structure to virtual social nights by featuring events such as a trivia night or a sketching class. As a result, these social nights have provided individuals an opportunity to stay connected and meet new peers.

Some events have even experienced new life in their shift to the digital environment. For example, one of our DPG chapter’s book clubs that used to gather in a central office now hosts meetings exclusively via videoconferencing. As a result, they are seeing increased participation, welcoming more individuals from new offices beyond the original host. Going forward, we can use digital events to connect peers from different offices in and outside of the host region—again, removing geographic barriers to enhance a broader sense of community.

Adapting existing processes

Our community processes have also adapted due to limitations on in-person connection. For example, onboarding doesn’t stop during a lockdown—it is important to not only continue regular activities but also enhance the ones that helped new team members feel at home. While employees used to connect in person in their first days at Stantec, they now meet their teams virtually. Specifically, in lockdown, using digital welcoming efforts like email introductions and a virtual buddy was an important way to make everybody aware of who is joining the team.

The DPG is also committed to supporting the business in areas that enhance our professional services. Processes like P.Eng. accreditation support are now evolving to include virtual presentations and coaching sessions rather than in-person workshops. Central online resource banks are also being developed to distribute information, with effective communication and leadership involvement important keys to sustaining professional development practices.

Remaining a community

Whether inspiring learning, connection, or enhanced business practices, helping our teams stay connected and collaborative has kept teams optimistic and allows us to provide better service to our clients amidst COVID-19 restrictions. Through these efforts, the DPG will continue to adapt as circumstances evolve, crossing geographic boundaries using digital solutions that reflect the flexibility of our teams and the resilience of our global network.

When you join Stantec, you can expect to have the resources to stay learning, engaged, and at the top of your career—even in unfamiliar realities. Learn more about what DPG is doing to foster global connections.

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