My seventy-nine year old mother lives with me and my family, and we’re taking every precaution to keep everyone safe and healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.

I had been voluntarily sheltering-in-place at my home for two weeks. I shifted my in-person coaching sessions with executive clients to video conference sessions. I cancelled my trips to visit clients in person through May. My speaking engagements are rescheduled for later in 2020, some shifted some to virtual conferences, and others were cancelled outright. I realized that I wouldn’t get to see my colleagues in person for months.

That’s why I was surprised when my CEO at CoachSource invited me to join him at the water cooler…during the COVID-19 outbreak!

CoachSource has been operating as a virtual, global firm since Brian Underhill, the founder and CEO, created CoachSource more than a decade ago.  We’ve grown, and now I have 30 colleagues at CoachSource.

And yes, like so many companies, we’ve been collaborating via video conferences on a more frequent basis and for longer meetings. The impact of COVID-19 on how we work together means that we need to stay in constant communication, so we know what’s happening with our team, our coaches, and our clients.

So, when the CEO invited me to meet him at the water cooler, my COVID-19 alarm went off.  “Hey, no in-person meetings!” was the mantra in my head. 

To my surprise, Brian invited me and the entire CoachSource team to a Virtual Water Cooler gathering via video conference.

Since we’re a global firm in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, he thought we needed some time to check-in with each other, see how we’re all handling shelter-in-place, and how our families and friends are adjusting. He thought we needed some time to laugh and enjoy the lighter side of what we’re all experiencing. And he was right. It was exactly what we needed.

For one and one-half hours, we grabbed a beverage – (and based on some people’s drink selections, including mine, this could have been called “Virtual Happy Hour!) – and enjoyed a late Friday afternoon gathering at the virtual water cooler.

We launched some fun virtual backgrounds in Zoom, shared video links of interest, and had some laughs.  We also learned how we’re caring for ourselves, our friends, and our families during uncertain times.

More important, I noticed how valuable it is for the leader to gather the team together for some non-work interactions, to just let us “be” with each other for a while.

If you’re a leader, I highly recommend that you start a Virtual Water Cooler video conference session with your team, especially during times of crisis and uncertainty. While it may seem that we’re overwhelmed with virtual communications, your teams are operating at a deficit for casual, fun-spirited interaction with their coworkers – and with you.

So, raise a glass, invite the team, and schedule a Virtual Water Cooler gathering!