The Programming & Events team at OneEleven have launched a roster of webinars, virtual meet-ups, online wellness resources and other remote programming to help its community navigate the work from home mandates and social distancing protocols made necessary by COVID-19. The aim of this virtual programming is to keep the community connected, informed as well as entertained during what has become an isolating and anxious time for many.
Some of the programming being taken remote are pre-existing, regular events, such as Peer Groups and the OneEleven Community Lunch, while other offerings are brand new, developed by taking into account the unique set of circumstances the community, and the city at large, is under.
Part of helping the community feel supported while shifting to remote work was a focus on continuity. The OneEleven Community Lunch is an event that happens every two months in the main lunchroom at OneEleven and is a chance for the community to come together over food and mutual appreciation of community standouts. A “Golden Dongle” award (an HDMI dongle that is spray painted gold) is always handed out at the lunch, an accolade given to a member who has, in the eyes of their peers, gone above and beyond for the community. Even before the OneEleven offices were shut down by mandate of the province, an in-person lunch was impossible with the community at large practicing safe social distancing measures. Cancelling the lunch outright just didn’t seem like a viable option when keeping the larger connection of the community in mind, so the decision was made to take it virtual.
The new OneEleven community Slack channel designated for its work from home community was utilized and OneEleven Executive Director, Siri Agrell, began with her remarks, as she typically would, but this time she was typing them live from her front porch instead of in front of a crowd in the lunchroom. Gifs were in heavy rotation, so were emoji reactions from the community as they followed along. The OneEleven team took turns giving updates on the facilities, events, and the community and yes, the Golden Dongle was awarded via a digital graphic of a dongle, embossed with “111” and hued in gold. It was a shorter lunch than usual, but the community showed up for it.
Many of the spontaneous run-ins that happen in the OneEleven lunchrooms are centred around their constantly working coffee machines. But how do you account for those chance meet ups now that the physical point of contact has been removed? Using a pre-existing Slack channel that went into hibernation for a few years because spontaneous, in-person meetings were happening so frequently within the OneElven ecosystem, those chance encounters will now be virtual. Those who’d like to opt-in to the channel can do so, and the channel will then randomly match two people who can then schedule a coffee break.
More virtual programming aimed at social inclusion and community building will be establishing peer groups, such as one focused on staving off “cabin fever” during social isolation, while Ask Me Anything sessions will be set up to address concerns specific to the tech sector, calling on a rotating cast of experts within the OneEleven community to facilitate.
“We are working closely with our partners to ensure that OneEleven member companies can access the support and knowledge they need to navigate current challenges,” Amanda Filipe, Partnership Manager at OneEleven says.
The shift to virtual and remote programming has created new, unique opportunities for some of OneEleven’s partners to lend experts and insight from afar. “From remote Investor Office Hours to webinars with partners like Deloitte and Silicon Valley Bank, we are offering a robust calendar of programming to our members and are thankful to be working with a committed network of partners, willing to provide their time and expertise to our community.” Filipe says.
Social bridges to community are a crucial touchpoint in times of heightened social anxiety, so too is remembering to prioritize wellness. With this in mind, a new channel has been set up within the OneEleven community Slack with a focus on wellness. Through this, the programming team will offer access to a daily calendar of live workouts and tutorials led by remote instructors, playlists curated by the community and guest DJs, and other resources with a focus on staying positive, keeping active, as well as disconnecting when it’s needed.
“We started to work to bring the elements of what we offer in-person to our members, online, in the form of live streaming fitness classes, workshops, and peer groups. While also curating new experiences to make their home work stations a more productive environment through the introduction of playlists and daily tips for working from home such as free resources to practice mindfulness, experience art and learn a new skill,” Ismail says.
While this necessary pivot to virtual programming has come out of a time of uncertainty and distance, it will give the OneEleven community a chance to connect in an entirely different way.
“The main focus of our programming and events is to keep our members engaged. This is such an interesting and new time for us all and it is important to reinforce a sense of community. We are trying to ensure that the content we distribute is beneficial for the people attending and make the transition to working from home a little bit smoother,” Paul says.
As gaps and new demands materialize in the wake of COVID, so will these virtual events and programs adjust to meet them. It’s one way that the OneEleven team can continue to offer support, even remotely, to its companies and community when they need it most.