We are back with our Webinar Series – Experts on Employee Experience! 🎉 It is a monthly webinar series where Jade Choy, Epoch's CEO, has conversations with leaders and innovators in the employee experience and engagement space.
In case you missed it, here are some key learnings and takeaways from our September Webinar featuring Anya Dvornikova, Project Coordinator - Team Anywhere Miro! View the full recording here. Scroll on for notes! 👇
Anya is a people-oriented professional with experience in learning design and people programs. At Miro, she oversees learning design programs and implements user design processes. Anya wore many hats through the years such as learning design lead, people team lead, and now leads a small team of event managers and coordinators. ✨ In this webinar we will learn about her experiences, advice, and thoughts on employee experience and how to keep employees more connected. Anya and her team use user-centered methodologies and community management practices using their platform, Miro. Here is a link to Miro’s real-time collaboration platform! https://miro.com/online-whiteboard/
Anya spends most of her time in community events. Previously she worked at a tech company where she led communications and marketing, then switched to people operations and development programs. Prior to this, she spent about 7 years in non for profit, where she focused on learning programs and development leaders across global organizations which were over 60 countries with over 100 employees.
Let’s kick things off with your understanding of how you navigate the global context, connecting employees globally. It would be interesting to hear how your observations and the cool things that you all have been trying out.
Anya believes that an event that would work for 100 people doesn’t work for multiple hundreds of people. So, she tried different scales of events and different scales of engagement programs.
Anya recognizes that there is a lot of diversity at play, but if people from different countries and different professional backgrounds, if they find joy in a cooking class they can join this cooking class, even a small one, or they can find the similarities and use the common ground to start with, as a result, they get better at collaborating in the work environment.
Anya and her team collaborate closely with people around the globe, and teams around more content-heavy events, like learning events or onboarding activities. As well as All Hands meetings where Anya and her team celebrate wins and provide upcoming news.
One thing Anya found that works for Miro well in the virtual events space is that she would provide a variety of mediums for people to engage with. By utilizing this Anya has learned that giving people a choice whether to join a breakout room or not to join drives a lot more engagement. Anya gives an example of what happens if today you feel like being off camera that’s totally fine. If you want to share ideas in a written format you can do so, by posting the question on the Miro board, and you just kind of drop a couple of sticky notes with your ideas on the same topic. She saw that fewer people dropped from the call unless people were uncomfortable with the setup, as they would stay, and contribute to the same topic.
In terms of working with more traditional types of virtual events, like all the possible Airbnb experiences like a virtual cocktail class, shipping ingredients to people's homes and they join virtually, cooking something together. Also, Anya did speed networking, like speed dating where people get reshuffled into random groups every five minutes and have questions to discuss. Anya utilizes the questions that are connected to the company values and now it's part of Miro’s onboarding program. when new people join the company, they don't want to listen to the culture and values, they want to discuss it and experience it.
Anya states that fewer people engage in virtual experiences now than two years ago because people just got tired from the screen time and it's natural. It's like a hybrid thing right now, for example, people from online can have Q&A with the founder, and whoever is in the office with him, they can join in person.
Anya is trying to embrace this hybrid model where during the week people have the opportunity to come three days in the office and experience collaboration in person. With that said, she has been limiting the number of online programs run and has been focusing a lot more on in-person as she tries to increase these hybrid elements where it's possible. During the month of July, Anya has seen many more people participating in person and it brings a lot of different learnings for us, of course, because it's very different from a virtual event and in person, especially when an in-person event with multiple hundred people. It looks completely different from a webinar with the same amount of people.
Anya mentions that they recently had an October release where they selected the events for the month, published them through Epoch, and promoted them internally through Slack. She further explains, this month they have a Halloween party, those that have Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, and a Diwali celebration. Anya elaborates, that between these big events, there are some smaller activities and smaller hubs, and usually, it's the hub itself that gives ideas and who decides what kind of events they want to run. People would form groups that either go for some excursions, picnic outside in the warm weather, and boat trips of course, as our European offices, love Boat trips.
Some sessions were facilitated by the local teams, bringing the whole company together after this crazy time, being at home. Reuniting around our culture and values, vision, and product, and also getting to know some new people who joined, especially new leaders who joined the company. Anya also mentions the small initiatives that took place, parties in the evening and a lot of small connection activities like small get-to-know games and collaborative fun activities between the sessions during the breaks.
Anya explains human-centered design techniques, they usually originated from product design, service design, and learning design, those areas where you need to really understand your audience, really understand your work, and your users to be able to provide relevant features. What we've done, we basically learn some of those approaches, templates, and frameworks, and we replicated them in our community design and culture design programs.
These committees select a lot of different options for people to share their insights and ideas and they try to kind of dig beyond the initial ask. Anya states, we try to understand what the different audiences in our company are and how we can create a variety of events for this month to address all these different audiences because they would present it with different types of events.
Anya has surprisingly discovered that when she uses the same frameworks as the product engineering teams and product design teams. She even calls some cultural aspects that people didn't like culture bugs for example she would find herself saying, “let's go and fix some culture bugs.” She further elaborates, “it took a bit more time for us to kind of get into the minds of let's say product designers or product managers, engineers, I believe we who work in the tech world, often face this, right?”
This is where a lot of learning still happens, how to engage those busy people a bit more because it's not like they don't want to participate in an event, or they don't want to promote this event for the team.
Anya believes the most common culture bug, which she believes is common for any company, is that when we say one thing and then act the opposite way. She questions, why do we say that we value X if we don’t practice this in decision making or resolving some important topics? She elaborates, of course, if you move fast, maybe you don't focus on some aspects of quality, you fix them later, fix those aspects.
When involving people in every step of the process with these interviews, conversations, and so on, they say like oh, I can have an impact and I can contribute my time and my skills or I'm curious and I feel like I'm co-owner of this activity.
For Anya, it is important to be very picky about what kind of questions we put in the feedback surveys, what kind of questions to ask from these empathy interviews, and what kind of signal we were trying to get from our participants. At the end of the day, the thing that we measure becomes our focus and the thing that we are focused on becomes the assumption for our design.
She mentions a sense of connection due to the business that Miro is trying to build with these programs being rooted in the ability to connect with others, build relationships, and kind of shape the work beyond transactional relationships. Anya believes it is important in the first few months after the main events due to how many people are meeting new people. If an event doesn't generate new connections. Anya addresses the issue of having more events where people have enough time to interact with each other and learn about each other. It's an important part of our strategy that we would never do things in isolation without asking people what they really want.
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