Since the small team I’m a part of at PRA began working from home last year, we’ve held a daily morning video-chat to check in about work and life. A couple of months ago, we decided to start inviting colleagues from other parts of the company to join us once a week, to get back some of the happenstance familiarity and fun that used to happen every time someone walked into our common office area, or waiting for a leg of a relay race to start at the company Olympics, or bumping into each other in the kitchen during the rush for the workday’s first caffeine.
To maintain some of the social kismet of the coffee line, we established that the guests would be selected at random. As I pulled up a random list picker to find out who would join us for the first round, I’ll admit the slightest trepidation about the unknown. Ours is a close-knit team, but it’s otherwise been a slow social year, to say the least, and the idea of some literally random person joining us seemed, for a moment, like a terrible idea. I clicked the picker, put down the name that popped up. Clicked again, recorded it. Again, and again, until I had a month’s worth.
As I looked at the list of guests, I half thought someone might accuse me of skewing the selection process—it felt a little too good to be random. Since that first draw, we’ve been joined by everyone from recent hires to the CEO, and after each conversation, I’m left with a better sense of the fact that it isn’t random at all. It’s what you get in a workplace that supports time for teambuilding, that buys the coffee, that holds an Olympics: a bunch of people you’re happy to see pop by, in person, or virtually. A place where social wellness and occupational wellness can be mutually supportive.