This time last year, my co-founder Pat and I had a full schedule, and most of it revolved around work. Between the corporate frisbee league, the employer-sponsored HIIT classes, and the weekly company pick-up soccer game, we were seeing a lot of our colleagues. Add in after work drinks a couple of times a month and we were spending upwards of 8 hours a week socializing with our team.
Fast forward to Summer 2020, and the social fabric of our work life had been destroyed completely. All sports had been cancelled. Everybody had come to dread the weekly work drinks on Zoom, which required Mick Jagger levels of alcohol consumption to alleviate the awkwardness of 10 people drinking alone and speaking one at a time. We’d had one properly organized social — a pub quiz that Pat spent 20 hours crafting, and I then stole and re-used with my friends because good content was so hard to come by.
And so, in a move that was variously described as “bold”, “risky”, and “poorly thought-through”, we decided to quit and try and do something about it.
The modern workplace is more than just somewhere you go to earn money. Particularly for young tech workers, many of whom are international (particularly in Canada), work is a social hub which offers connections to like-minded people at a similar stage of life. And companies reap the rewards: teams that socialize more build trust, and trust breeds high performance.
The technology sector has proved very agile at adopting to remote work. Early data suggests that productivity can be preserved or even enhanced by telework.
But it’s already becoming clear that maintaining high levels of social connectivity is key to sustaining remote workforces . This study from BCG found that employees satsified with their social connectivity were 3x more likely to report sustained or improved productivity on collaborative tasks.
We’ve spoken to the management and HR departments of many of Montreal’s leading technology companies, and what we’ve heard echoes the statistics: nobody’s sure how to maintain strong teams in the era of remote work.
We heard three things repeatedly across a wide range of organizations:
- Spontaneous social events don’t work over Zoom. Participation has fallen drastically
- More structured events are very time consuming to arrange for managers and HR
- Companies want to offer employees the choice to participate in events, but don’t want to force everybody to attend — employees have diverse preferences
What is Cholla?
We built Cholla to meet the needs of remote teams who want to organize events and stay connected. We’ve partnered with over a dozen superb local providers of classes, events, and fitness programs and we’re offering them in a platform that makes it easy to find a time and book a private event. Many of these events — like wine-tasting or candle-making — require special materials, which we’ll send to you and your team in advance so everybody has what they need to participate.
How does it work?
1. Select a time and number of participants for the event of your choice
2. We’ll schedule the event and give you a signup link to distribute to your team
3. We’ll send everybody the supplies they need beforehand, and see you online!
Cholla is currently in beta — we’ve released it early and we’re desperate for your feedback. Are there experiences you’d like to see on the site? Improvements we can make to the booking process, or to the experiences themselves?
Please let us know your thoughts so we can make the platform as useful as possible! We’re also looking to expand our network of suppliers, so if you know of somebody who could offer an interesting experience online, please point them in our direction.