Helping Create a Virtual Community with Laura
When Laura first started with Good Foot in January 2020, she was excited to attend social events with the staff and accompany Couriers on their deliveries to better understand her dispatching job. Little did she know, just two months into her new job as Good Foot’s Operations Coordinator, the pandemic would strike and all of the Courier programs would pause for months. The job description for all office staff members was about to fundamentally change.
When the difficult decision was made to pause deliveries to keep Couriers safe, the team realized that they could use the time to organize virtual games, events, and check-ins for their colleagues who suddenly found themselves isolated and working from home.
Events that previously existed such as ‘Tea Time Tuesday’ were the first and easiest thing to transfer online. That was followed by the creation of ‘Fun Fridays’, an hour-long social event filled with games and trivia, alongside Workout Wednesdays, which Laura hosted by sharing online yoga videos. Every member of the office staff was hosting one event per week, and the schedule was tightly packed. Soon, there was a social event every day, and Laura would send out a weekly email with the schedule, as well as updates, movie recommendations, and links to free games.
Laura feels like she was able to get to know everyone better because of the intense amount of virtual communication and events. People that she would normally see at work once a week were suddenly online every single day and attending events. Having a schedule filled with things to look forward to was supposed to primarily benefit the Couriers, but Laura found that it had a huge positive impact on her own wellbeing.
“With such a large courier team, it was nice to have that one-on-one time”Laura
Alongside the group events, Laura, Michelle, and Devon wanted to find a way to maintain personal connections with Couriers so they implemented individual phone calls to check in. Some asked for daily check-ins, while others only needed the occasional call. Out of nearly 40 couriers, Laura thinks there are just about 2 she’s lost touch with. And the staff didn’t give up on them – if there was no response, the team would keep calling and emailing until a parent or caregiver would call to reassure that everything was okay. Now that the Couriers are returning to work, she’s excited to strengthen these newfound friendships.
“I’m hoping that when it comes to accessibility, things can’t just go back to normal. Everyone has been changed by this even if they think they haven’t”Laura
Good Foot usually focuses on the underemployment of the neurodiverse community. But the pandemic impacted employment across all industries, and Laura hopes that this might result in a better focus on representation in hiring processes and employment agencies.
Laura hopes that people’s perspectives on accessibility have changed as a result of the pandemic. We learned that we’re capable of making fundamental changes to our lives, and Laura hopes that people might realize that they can also make real changes to inclusion and accessibility in their workplaces.
Laura and the Good Foot staff had to make efforts to make sure that every event had accommodations and accessibility in mind. They found that the visual aspect of Zoom was useful to moderate games, explain rules, and display the order of participation. Laura found that providing a few options for trivia was useful, instead of making it complete guesswork. One of the games that went over the best with the Couriers was called Colour Brain, a trivia game that asked players to remember the colours of common logos, such as YouTube or Google. By taking the time to make small adjustments to games, Laura and her colleagues were making real-time experiments to improve accessibility (and enjoyment!) for all the Couriers.
“Good Foot is constantly evolving. There’s always room for growth and adaptation, and we’re always talking about new ideas”Laura
Just like everything else, Good Foot has changed because of the pandemic. Training and onboarding moved online out of necessity, but some of those changes have proven so useful that they will become permanent, like Good Foot’s sleek new online training classroom.
The pandemic also provided time for Laura and the Good Foot staff to talk about new ideas for the big picture in a way they usually couldn’t when caught up in daily operations. All of the sudden, they were able to take a microscope to existing programs and figure out what was working and what could be strengthened. Laura felt it was really helpful to the organization as a whole, and will help it move forward even stronger.
For Laura, the biggest lesson was to stop feeling guilty about productivity levels, and to ask for help when she needed it. She learned to slow down and take things one day at a time. In the end, Laura and I found that we both learned some of the same lessons from the pandemic. When we found ourselves physically isolated from friends and families, the things that kept us sane were the virtual communities and check-ins that we centered our days around. The things that we missed the most weren’t big things at all – just something as simple as hugging a friend.
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