On Our Minds

Working with so many organizations across multiple issue areas gives us a unique view into what’s happening in the social sector. This is where we share our insights and ruminations.
The power of in-person connection
The power of in-person connection after months of Zoom

by Michelle Kedem (she/her/hers), Isabella Cassell (she/her/hers), Yahira Cruz (she/her/hers)

“In conversation with On-Ramps'' is a series that captures discussions we’ve had about the issues facing today’s social sector hiring managers. In this edition, we asked three On-Rampers what it was like to participate in their first in-person event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Spoiler alert: it was uplifting, energizing, and inspirational for this close-knit team to be reunited after so many months of working virtually. The meetup also served as a great reminder that spending time with colleagues in person invigorates and motivates your teams.

Michelle: It was so energizing to come back together! I love my colleagues, and missed them so much. In person, there is laughter and space that cannot be found on Zoom. It made me realize how much I  missed our spontaneous conversations. I missed the humor. I missed the sudden, unexpected thought partnership enabled by being in the same space at the same time. I am so lucky to have the colleagues that I have.

Isabella: The event felt so warm and celebratory, and allowed us to connect in authentic ways beyond the Zoom screen.

Our team is very supportive and empathetic, and that stayed constant throughout the pandemic. However, I know many of us felt the absence of casual, in-person interactions from our office culture - the quick coffee walks, conversations over snacks, and the bullpen discussions. Our team is so dynamic and it's hard to get that through video.

I’ve deeply missed the social aspect of work. The spontaneity of conversations and getting to know people beyond the day-to-day. Our team is so smart, passionate, and dedicated, and have such full lives both in and outside of work.

Yahira: It felt to me equal parts awesome and surreal. For the most part we have not seen each other in person since March 2020, so some of it was, “wait is this really happening?” But being able to see folks in real life was the best. So much of our interaction was as if nothing had happened, we were back to being a team laughing, cracking jokes, and making memories. It felt very much like a reunion, trying to make the rounds and catch up with folks was so hard because I just wanted infinite time with each one of them. I was especially excited to meet our new hires! I remember before the event we were on a Zoom guessing each other's heights.

Michelle: I work smarter when I am happier, and this kind of get together makes me happy, makes me feel connected, alive, lucky.

Yahira: Spending time with colleagues gave me a chance to appreciate how amazing each of my teammates are and to see and be reminded of the value they bring to our organization as a whole. 

Isabella: When you feel more connected to your team, you feel more connected to the broader work and impact of your organization.

There was a lot of anticipation in planning the event. Of course our goal was to connect, but we wanted to make sure it was as safe as possible for every person who attended. We thought about which locations would be most open and airy, as well as the best geographically and logistically.

Michelle: To summarize my feelings in one sentence: More, please!

Isabella: I am so grateful for the ability to connect with my team safely and joyfully again.

Yahira: It was the best of times.