News | Nov. 19, 2020

Innovative teambuilding keeps coworkers together

By John Dwyer III DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

In a virtual environment, the ability to build and maintain team strength, morale and resilience is a challenge. One team of innovative Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support employees has been taking on that challenge head-first throughout the pandemic using collaboration tools to stay connected.

Employees from the Process Compliance Directorate participated in a virtual Jeopardy-style game November 12 that created greater esprit de corps within the group – all from their own homes.

“I enjoyed hearing [teammates’] voices and the friendly competition,” Jennifer Hamby, Process Compliance analyst said. “Hopefully we can get more participants next time to make it even better.”

The event was organized by the directorate’s culture improvement team, who is focused on improving the Climate and Culture of the workforce by developing events and programs to enrich the workplace.

“As I was creating the game, I thought, ‘this could be a fun event for the team to partake in,’” Alain Thevenot, Audit Readiness analyst and event organizer, said.

The virtual gathering kicked off with riddles presented by Process Compliance analyst Chris Sapsis, and led into friendly team competition between Process Compliances’ two divisions. Collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and teleconferencing lines were key to the event’s success, Thevenot said.

Early discussions about how to manage the “buzz-in” feature of classic Jeopardy led to the use of Teams’ “hand raised” feature, he added.

With more than 15 participants on a conference line and using the collaboration features of the new software, a friendly competition was possible, King said.

“We’re all still getting used to Teams, so it was a learning experience,” Hamby said. “But I always like the competition.”

Friendly banter throughout the game was part of the desired effect, Rene King, Chief of Process Improvement said. It was welcomed considering early struggles posed by working from home.

“Early on, some team members expressed real challenges about being alone all day,” King said. “Individuals volunteered to support those team members, but it was clear that everyone was eager for time to spend socializing together while still being concerned about the safety of personal contact.”

Earlier this year, employees took part in video lunches and small group meetings to keep in touch as their work transitioned to the virtual environment, King said. But soon after, attendance declined.

Weekly phone calls and one-on-one discussions started to rebuild morale for individuals, but then King was approached with an overwhelming desire from the team, she said. They wanted more, and they were willing to put it together.

“It was clear that we needed a venue to enable refocusing and reconnecting the team,” King said.

That venue was created by Thevenot, though he credits his children.

“During one of our team brainstorming calls, my teenage daughter was listening in and suggested having a game of Jeopardy,” said Thevenot said. “So, the kids and I came up with the questions and answers after I selected the topics, and we drafted the PCD Jeopardy game as a family.”

Thevenot and the CIT intend on hosting more events throughout the work-from-home push, and hope they’ll continue to raise spirits and bring the coworkers closer, he said.

“It was great being able to connect with the team again,” Thevenot said. “With any luck, we can make it even better next time and build on our success.”