Editor's Notebook: The New Happy Hour
Diaz Group members take part in the company's weekly social hour team building activity.

Editor's Notebook: The New Happy Hour

Diaz Group's Michael G. D'Aversa shares how to redefine the "social" in social distancing at your company.

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April 17, 2020

One of the major management challenges business owners face is how to keep their teams intact and their cultures preserved in the work-from-home environment many of us find ourselves in during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s one suggestion to mitigate the impact of remote work and social distancing from Chicagoland’s Diaz Group – host a Digital Happy Hour.

© all images Michael D'Aversa/Diaz Group
Diaz Group's Michael D'Aversa takes part in the company's digital social hour from his home office/dining room.

According to Michael G. D'Aversa, the company’s VP of Operations, some Diaz Group execs and managers attended a free webinar by Dale Carnegie Training called "Becoming a Digital Leader: How to Lead, Communicate and Hold Your Team Accountable in a Virtual Environment." One of the topics they touched upon was employee engagement and it was suggested that not every remote meeting had to be about work.

“That prompted me to visualize holding a digital happy hour after work on a Friday,” D’Aversa says. “But since not everybody in our company drinks — and because I wanted to welcome everybody to participate — I softened the term to 'social hour' and floated an invitation out.

"I wanted to give our people an opportunity to feel engaged and connected from wherever they happen to be at 5:30 on a Friday afternoon,” he adds.

The event started slowly, with just a few people and peaked at eight to 10 before winding down.
“We didn't really go the full hour -- more like 40–45 minutes,” D’Aversa says, “but I knew I was onto something when people started saying ‘I hope we do this again’ before leaving.” So, he scheduled another after-hours event for the following Friday, which was a resounding hit with employees.

“People were asking about each other's beverages, giving tours of their back yard, showing some interior spaces, etc. and there was much laughter,” he says. “And we did this without even once talking about work or business. There was absolutely no obligation to participate, yet when we began signing off, people began expressing a desire to do it again.”

Mike Zawacki is Snow Magazine's editor. If you have any items you'd like to share, reach out via email mzawacki@gie.net.