That was the expression on the faces of more than 350 Pinnacol employees June 30 when we held a reunion picnic in the parking lot of our building. My expression was no different, and I can’t help but smiling again every time I think of that day.
I’ve written a lot in this blog about wrestling with the questions about how to return to the office after the pandemic. My team and I are still figuring that out. Much as it saddens me to acknowledge it, I will never walk through our building and see all our 650 employees under that roof again.
That made it all the more important and meaningful to bring our people together for, well, fun.
We called it “Bringing the Band Back Together.” We showed videos of our executive team singing songs about the pandemic, and a Zoom call with 15 of our team members set to music that was flat-out hilarious. There was music and great food.
And more than anything: there was connection. Hugs, laughter, shaking hands with new hires we’d only ever met via Zoom, smiles everywhere you looked. Teams used the day to celebrate birthdays and professional accomplishments and have in-person meetings. It gave us an opportunity to send off our retiring chief human resources officer in style and in person.
I won’t pretend that everything went back to the “old normal” after that day. Most days that I go into the building, there are still only a couple dozen others there with me. Yet as my team and I feel our way toward the “next normal” we carry lessons from that party: We can deliver great results without working alongside each other. But there’s no happiness like the smiles of friends and colleagues seeing each other in person. And our people and our company will be better off when we create more opportunities for that.