It’s 2023. For many, the days of offices filled with employees are long gone. There are no longer after work happy hours, coffee breaks, or even group volunteer events. Just because your company has moved to a remote first workforce, doesn’t mean that you can’t still have impactful employee volunteer opportunities. Below, I’ll share the steps we’ve taken to create thoughtful and recurring volunteer opportunities for team members, regardless of location.
Step 1: Figure Out Where Everyone Is!
Having access to a map or database that updates regularly with team members' location is crucial to maximizing volunteer opportunities in a remote first company. It is very easy to get this wrong without the proper data. Without this data, I would have made a variety of wrong assumptions about team members’ locations including:
We had enough team members in Philadelphia to support bimonthly in person events for more than 20 people. While lots of folks list Philadelphia as their city, zip codes show that encompasses team members in all 5 collar counties as well as in South Jersey. Some folks would have to travel over an hour for an in person volunteer event, which makes a regular cadence of larger volunteer events unsustainable. However, we learned that a 10 person event in Center City on a recurring basis is doable. We also set up an in person event in Northeast Philadelphia, to make it easier for Lower Bucks County residents to attend.
People never move. In a remote first workplace, team members can move to a new city and keep their current position. Without regular updates to location data, it’s easy to miss! If you are routinely looking at location data, you’ll be able to capture how cohorts in different cities grow and change.
Everyone lives in a major city. When I first started at Seer, I assumed I’d plan events in Philly, San Diego, and maybe some cities like Denver or Austin. It turns out, we have a cohort of team members located in central Ohio! They have introduced us to their local food bank who we have been able to support in a variety of ways.
Step 2: Break the Mindset!
Even with location data, it’s still impossible to create a Seer sponsored, in person, volunteer group event that every team member can attend. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to have remote events that everyone can participate in. We got creative and innovative and have vastly improved our offerings:
Add a remote option into an in person event. I did an audit of our in person events to see what parts could be done by someone who was off site. For in person cooking events that take place in Denver, San Diego, and Philly, we have a team member living elsewhere do the grocery shopping via Instacart. When we packed snack bags at a food bank in Northeast Philly, we rallied the team, regardless of location, to write and mail notes which could be included in the bags.
Create events that everyone can participate in regardless of location. In 2023, I wanted to have one volunteer event monthly that was open to all team members, no matter where they lived. We kicked off the year with a blood drive. We also hosted our fully remote MLK Day Digital Marketing Open House and have written letters to senior citizens in nursing homes. In April, in celebration of Earth Day, we’ll organize a team wide, trash pickup event.
Be Willing to Pave Your Own Path. In March, the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank was holding their annual food drive. Our Ohio team members have volunteered there and we wanted to be able to support this initiative company wide. However none of the options seemed like they translated well enough to engage the full team. There is always the option to donate funds, or we could donate canned goods from the Amazon wishlist. Neither of those options would lead to more than 10-15 minutes of engagement from our team members. Instead, we came up with a new idea. We asked our whole team to participate in a pantry clean out. Team members went through their pantry and found unexpired items to donate to a local food bank or food pantry. Then, we tracked the total amount of items donated by our team (184 cans!) Seer then purchased 184 cans off of the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank's wish list to support their drive.
It’s easy to want to default to large, in person, volunteer events. Those still have a place in any Community Impact program, but I encourage you to think about ways to regularly involve all teammates, regardless of location. With this model, everyone has the opportunity to participate, and you may find that you build some new partnerships along the way!
Follow along with our monthly blogs as we commit to giving back $15 million to the community by 2032.
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