Unlike a lot of the population who just recently became acquainted with Zoom due to the social distancing requirements to contain the spread of COVID-19, our team actually leverages the tool on a daily basis for our internal and external business-related calls. As we have shared before, our team felt like we had an advantage at the start of the pandemic, because we already had a 100% remote work business model, and so there wasn’t much of a change for any of us in that regard.
What you may be surprised to hear, is that despite having a fully remote and global team, it had never occurred to us to do a virtual happy hour to connect about non-business topics. The reason for this is that since a chunk of our business revolves around events and travel, we actually really cherish those opportunities and use them to connect on a personal level. As we saw more and more companies post screenshots of their virtual happy hours established to help their teams cope with the distance, we figured there could be something in it for us as well.
Though the very first call was a simple chat-along to connect, our team of event planners, marketers, and content creators simply were not going to let these be regular happy hours. Our team knew that there was an opportunity for more within these calls. Not to brag, but we have some big personalities and multi-talented individuals in our roster, so it took zero time for us to figure out our rhythm. We knew that a way for us to feel a bit closer would be by having everyone participate in making/enjoying the same drink or food item, but since not everyone knows how to make certain things, it would come with a tutorial opportunity. Educational (but in a fun way) opportunity? Check!
Because for us it’s actually always 5 o’clock somewhere, we settled on doing our calls on Fridays at 11am ET, which is 5pm CET for our German team, and 8am for one of our fearless co-founders in Vancouver. This was the only time that could accommodate all of us without infringing too much on non-business hours. Logistics? Check!
Our team members constantly exhibit pride in our diversity and origins, so it was only a matter of time for #TeamMexico to rise up and volunteer to teach us how to make the best margaritas in the game. Jaime, another of our fearless co-founders, and Meche (whose last name is Jaime) came up with a half-bartender-staff-half-comedy-troupe a la Mötley Crüe and invited us to the unforgettable “Jaime & Jaime Presents: Margarita Master Class.” Before the class happened, they started off by sending the call meeting request with a list of ingredients we would need in case we wanted to follow along at home.
Being the very first fun happy hour we had, we weren’t sure what to expect, but knowing that the "Jaimes" were leading it we knew this was going to be goodh. At the start of the call, Jaime and Meche looked profoundly serious and proceeded to ask us to pay attention to the video they were about to show us, where we would learn the process of making a margarita. These two really put a lot of work into it and delivered a hilarious 20-minute video of character versions of themselves where Jaime kept “tasting” the tequila as he tried to perfect the recipe, and Meche was not too far behind on her shot count. It was comedy gold, straight out of SNL. Our team laughed along with them, and then it was time for all of us to join in and learn to make margaritas in each of our homes. And right on time for Cinco de Mayo too!
The call wasn’t even over, and we were already trying to figure out who would be next, and what the item to be made would be. Since we often like taking turns per region, our CEO and last fearless co-founder Tom volunteered to host the next call, and he was going to show us how to make his favorite drink: a Negroni. Tom sent over the list of ingredients about a week before, and then before we knew it, it was time for our next virtual happy hour. For those of you who haven’t met Tom, we often joke he’s the actual most interesting man in the world, and the XX guy has nothing on him. Being a man with a purpose and great stories, Tom’s call was no shenanigans and straight to business. He started by showing us the recipe and then got to drinking along with all of us, even though it was 11am in Philadelphia, where he’s based. We lost count of how many Negronis were had during the call, but this was an amazing time for us to connect, laugh, and have a good time together.
Now that South and North America had covered the bases, it was time for Europe to step up. With a heavy concentration in Germany, it was up to the EMEA team to figure out what to present. Since it was peak summertime, our dear content master Inga volunteered to teach us how to make Hugo – a deliciously refreshing drink using elderflower cordial, a classic summer staple. Inga sent us the ingredients list, and then the time came for the call. Inga’s computer was set up in her kitchen and she started with a brief story of the drink, how it got its name, the ingredients (many of which she impressively gathered from her garden), and then got to work. In classic Inga fashion, no stone was left unturned. She used the Zoom poll feature, and also had cue cards for questions to make us brainstorm about famous Hugos (like Victor Hugo and Hugo Boss), and other fascinating historical data. It was a truly refreshing learning opportunity (pun intended!).
Now that the continents had all taken turns, it was time to figure out what came next. It’s known among the team that our London correspondent Kathy is obsessed with avocados, and we just couldn’t wait to find out why (at least team member Mica couldn’t, so she volunteered Kathy for the next slot). Kathy’s obsession with the fruit is so big that she excitedly planned to make three different dishes that were avocado based, and at the end it would come together as a three-course meal where each plate represented a different area of the world where it was conceived: guacamole from the Americas, avocado burgers (where the avocado replaces the bun) from Europe, and a dessert made with avocado and condensed milk birthed in Asia. #TeamMexico was none too pleased with that last dish, as avocado is only seen as a savory ingredient in the country, but alas, Kathy went ahead with it and tried it for the first time with everyone on the call (spoiler alert: she regrets it). Her presentation was filled with memes and TikToks, like a true millennial.
As we wait for our next call where we will learn how to make Black Forest Cake at the request of our CEO, which will be made as a team effort by our German colleagues who live in the region, we can’t help but reflect on how these virtual happy hours brought a new sense of joy and personal interactions within our team. During the Hugo call, for example, the brainstorming session led to a conversation about how Nytro Marketing could be compared to the Elderflower, based on chats we’ve had with our customers and the feedback they’ve given us about our work. From the fact that the tree has different species spread around the globe (having that #Glocal appeal, just like us), to its many versatile uses and mythical stories that surround it (trust us, we have plenty of those too!), we have come to discover pieces of Nytro and of ourselves that we may not otherwise had.
We’re all about making lemonade out of lemons (and maybe margaritas now that we know how to), and we just wanted to share our experience in mining the positives from what has been an unquestionably hard past five months. These happy hours brought us happy times and something to look forward to internally, and we’re big proponents of finding these joys within your team too. We’re happy to start the conversation on our social media networks, so leave comments or e-mail us with your experiences! With the experience we've acquired, we can even help you plan your own showcase. Just let us know, we're here for you!