How Virtual Coffee Dates Impacted our Organization

Catherine Mulder on

Man sitting next to large coffee cup

As we entered another lock-down cycle amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, we knew that this was going to create challenges for everyone. Remote work certainly has its positives, but we knew that the lack of social interaction, and the ability to draw the line between work and home life - would become increasingly more difficult. Burnout is a very real, and very prominent issue that we aim to avoid at all costs. I had a discussion with our founder & CEO Daniel, where we shared concerns and brainstormed ideas of how to make this time less difficult. We saw it as an opportunity not just to relieve the team of some stress, but instill habits of growth that will be beneficial long after the quarantine period. Thus, the Metadot “Coffee Dates” were born.

We were strategic in our methods, and I knew we wanted to create an environment that drives self-awareness and self-reflection. When we have a better understanding of ourselves, how we operate, and how we feel - we become better communicators. The Coffee Dates had a huge emphasis around building our communication skills. Each week, members of our team would be paired together and be expected to have a private virtual video meeting on our main communication platform, Discord. There was a shared Google document that was posted publicly for all of the team to access. Each week we were assigned new partners, and new thought-provoking questions that were displayed in this document. For example, things such as “Where is your dream travel location?”, “If you had the opportunity to relive your life, what would you do differently?”, “When is a time you have struggled?”, and “How do you measure success?” with a variety of other questions in between. The goal was for each individual to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, while engaging in a thoughtful conversation with a colleague, and maybe someone they don’t communicate with often. I deployed this activity on a Monday morning and I knew going in, it would be a challenge. It is not easy, nor comfortable for most people to be vulnerable with themselves, not to mention their coworkers. I had to approach these questions with patience, empathy and the understanding that growth is not always comfortable, but it is necessary.

After the first few weeks, I had thoroughly enjoyed the conversations with my team. I learned about their passions, what motivated them and the vastly different ways in which they viewed the world. It was so insightful, and I found myself learning more about myself and what I considered to be my own beliefs. I felt like this activity made me a better teammate, and brought me closer to people I’d never even met in person. The distance of remote work deteriorated with each new conversation, and I could feel a genuine connection among the team. Not only were we learning about ourselves, but learning how to better support one another as the challenges of remote working arose. This process was easy to maintain, and I spent each week preparing questions and partnerships for the next. The time went quickly, and after weeks of laughter, deep conversation and many great movie recommendations, we were at the end of our activity. I took it upon myself to understand what the experience was like for others, and see if they enjoyed the Coffee Dates as much as I had. Here is some of the feedback I received:

I was ecstatic, and considered Coffee Dates a success. All of the apprehension in the beginning was transformed into a positive, beneficial experience. I believe our team is stronger because of them, and that we started creating more well-rounded and self-aware individuals in the process. Regardless of age, position, gender, culture or beliefs, our team was able to connect on a variety of levels and share ideas while relieving stress and improving skill sets. From CEO’s to engineers to administrative roles, Metadot undertook an activity that pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone and in the direction of growth. We understand this is just the beginning on our journey to create mentally, intellectually and emotionally intelligent individuals, and the Coffee Dates have been proven to be a great start.