Thrive Global: 3 Ways To Make Your Virtual Holiday More Meaningful

This has been the year that has changed the way we live forever and in true 2020 fashion, it continues to create challenges and unknown circumstances as we enter the holiday season.  As a collective, we have all learned how to do most in-person activities remotely. Having done this for the last eight months, we are well versed in video conferencing, thus amply prepared to host our virtual holidays. Beyond the mechanics of hosting a video call, there are a few things we can do to make sure that the meaning and connection we feel during the holidays is not lost in the distance.

Eat together and eat the same meal 

As we sit down to enjoy the holiday meals that we would normally have in person, most families will be using a video feature, like Zoom, to connect with extended family. But the physical distance doesn’t have to mean emotional distance. When you sit down to enjoy your holiday meal, plan ahead to make the experience the same for everyone, such as eating the same foods and using the same place settings, so everyone is having the same experience together. “Recently when celebrating a family birthday over a video call, we all coordinated ahead of time to eat the same cake, a chocolate cake. It was really nice because we were all eating the same thing and we could talk about how it tasted, the texture and the normal things we would if we were in person. If you are eating the same food, the meal feels so much more connected, similar to actually being at the same table.” said Shirmattie Seenarine, Director of Communications and Technical Publications at Deltapath. Sharing meals together builds and strengthens relationships, and is something we can do together even if we can’t be sitting at the same table. 

Play games together 

Often times when we gather with family and friends we play board games, cards, or even video games. The good news is that many games can be played virtually and be just as fun, if not even more fun. Some games such as trivia are easily done over video calls without planning ahead, others require minimal preparation. Games like Heads Up and Scrabble require everyone to download the game ahead of time and creating user names to easily request the other players. Charades is an interactive and fun game that gives each player the spotlight to act out phrases or words while your teammates try to guess. Using platforms such as Zoom makes it easy to divide your participants into teams and change the spotlight to the person acting out the charade. Zoom will also remove the 40-minute time limit on its free meetings for Thanksgiving Day, meaning you and your family can play games for hours – or until someone gives up! 

Virtual gift exchanges 

The holiday season is the time for gifting and sharing, most retail stores are operating online making it easy to host a virtual gift exchange. Plan to have your gifts sent in packages that do not give away the store name or brand of the product, keep the mystery until it is time to open the gifts! Request gift-wrapping or wrap the gift yourself using colorful bows and heartfelt note cards. Unwrapping a present is always fun and it builds the anticipation of finding out what is inside the box, making the final reveal exciting even for those watching you open the gift. 

During a year as crazy as this one has been it is more important than ever to feel connected to the people in our lives and cherish our time together. Although the holidays will look different this year, the technology we have access to allows us to get creative and make the best of the virtual holiday celebrations.

Thrive Global: How Remote Collaboration Can Ignite Meaningful Communication

In a time of uncertainty, stress, and fear of what the future might look like, we lean on each other for support and compassion. But what does that look like in the workforce, and specifically, the rapidly expanding remote workforce? Companies all over have made efforts to transition, some even permanently, to remote work in order to prioritize their employees’ health and safety. The reliance on remote collaboration presents a new set of challenges for businesses, especially regarding communication and team-building. For many, however, the cause is worth this evolution that society approaches. What is lost through virtual communications, like facial expressions and body language, can now be gained and maintained through unified communication efforts and redefining what strong leadership is.

One step a business can take to ensure effective virtual communication within their team is to be sure the technology they choose to use is easily accessible and user-friendly. Tools like Skype and Zoom have been go-to products that make communication over video easy, even with larger groups. Beyond virtual conferencing, reliable messaging, like email or products like Slack, mean that team members are readily available to one another as needed throughout the course of a project or workflow.

With all the options for elevated virtual communication, it may seem like everything your business could need is covered. But technology can only take us so far. You can have the highest quality video chat, the clearest calls, and most efficient lines of contact in place, but none of that changes the fact that behind all that text and all those screens are human beings.

Think about what it means, what it feels like, to be part of a team. To be part of something bigger than yourself, but something that also connects you as an individual to other individuals reaching toward similar goals. That connection has to exist in order to succeed, and fostering it within a remote environment might take a bit more patience and creativity.

It’s so easy to take for granted being able to see and communicate in person with your co-workers each day. You see them physically in front of you. Some days they may look tired, other days refreshed and energized. You hear them talk to their kids or significant other over the phone on their breaks. Maybe you eat lunch together. You pop over to their desk if you have a question or need a second opinion about something you’re working on. You grow and change alongside each other. Celebrate the victories and stew over the failures together. Just existing next to each other and communicating you cultivate a meaningful relationship. Translating that kind of connectedness within a remote work situation means actively encouraging not just professional communication, but also meaningful communication and mindful gratitude as a whole.

Encouraging appropriately-framed personal communication will make all other interactions more efficient and organic. It’s easier to work effectively with others when that work is built on a foundation of trust, understanding, and respect. The only way to create this foundation is through meaningful communication. David Liu, founder and CEO of Deltapath shares how he is ensuring meaningful communication within his team:

As we brace ourselves under Shelter In Place and work virtually as a team, it is very important to take the time outside of work context to connect with your employees and your team in a meaningful way. We have all of the tools and technology available to communicate remotely, but are you truly connecting with the person on the other side of the line? At Deltapath, we encourage our teammates to have more casual and accidental interactions with each other. This is why we make every internal call a video call. By doing so, we get to have more real connections with each other especially when they bring their children into the call! These human connections formed virtually helps to set a less rigid tone in business discussions and bring smiles to your hectic day.

Indeed, carving out the time for small talk, for getting to know employees and coworkers and intentionally listening to them will only strengthen inner team connection, increasing productivity and focus. If a person cares about the people they work with, and if that feeling is reciprocated, that care and attention transmits into their work. It’s no secret, people who feel heard and appreciated are more productive and creative.

Another thing to consider as you create systems to promote connectedness and meaningful communication within your team or business is that meaningful communication might take different forms to different people. While everyone may need to be willing to utilize all forms of virtual communication at certain points, especially during team-building efforts, when it comes to one-on-one meetings or check-ins, some people might prefer a face-to-face video call, while others feel more comfortable drafting their thoughts, feelings, and concerns via email. Honoring these preferences when possible during remote collaboration is a great way to show that your business cares about the wellbeing and comfort of its employees as individual human beings. For some, particularly those that just recently made the transition into remote work, video calls might feel awkward, but a phone or audio call seems more natural. Listening to the opinions of your remote workforce will help create not only a more positive work experience, but also provide a bridge for more meaningful communication as you further develop and expand strategies that are right for your business and the people that keep it going.

Beyond just the professional environment, people are now hyper-aware of their connections, and lack thereof, with others. Remote work doesn’t have to just be about fast and efficient collaboration anymore. The world has changed in a way that it is entirely necessary for people to take the time to know and hear the people they work with, even if they’re 3000 miles away. In a way, this societal transition propels something we’ve been headed towards all along. Human connection and meaningful communication without limits.

Thrive Global: Humanity’s Future and Mobile Technology.

Mobile Technology is Shaping Humanity’s Future:

Human beings have come a long way over the centuries.

Throughout time, we’ve always looked for the most convenient and reliable way to communicate – whether it was through drums and horns, smoke signals, letters, or even in-person conversation. The rise of the digital world has given way to better opportunities for communication than ever before.

Today, we can engage in conversations with people around the world, accessing real-time audio, video, and even text messaging at the touch of a button. Technology has played a pivotal role in making society a better place. The ability to access that technology via mobile devices like tablets and smartphones has changed the way that we interact with others, complete tasks, and even perform at work.

According to Pew Research, more than 5 billion people around the world have a mobile device, and over half of those devices are smartphones. We’re living in an environment where it’s genuinely possible to be always on, and constantly connected. The question is, what does that mean to humanity as we know it? How does mobile technology serve communities across the globe?

How Mobile Technology Transformed the Planet

The chances are that your smartphone is an everyday part of your toolkit – a lightweight device that you carry with you wherever you go – whether you’re at home or at work. Despite being small enough to fit in your pocket, and lightweight enough that you’ll barely notice it throughout the day, the smartphone has played a monumental role in shaping human interactions throughout the 21st century.

When the iPhone launched in 2007, we had no idea how significantly the communication landscape was about to change. Mobile devices suddenly became more than just phones or reading devices. Today, our devices are catch-all platforms for education, communication, and collaboration, with functionality that’s continually evolving and improving.

The evolution of mobile technology means that everyone now has access to a pocket-sized PC – an environment that they can turn to for information, assistance, and even emergency support. We’re beginning to discover just how valuable the smartphone can be when it comes to things like healthcare and emergency services.

The Role of Mobile Technology in Healthcare

Mobile phones allow for easy communication between friends, coworkers, and family members at a moment’s notice. Not only can you connect with your tribe through voice with your smartphone, but you can also reach out through video, text message, and social media too. While this reliable access to various forms of communication has many benefits to offer, one of the areas where it can provide the most value is in healthcare.

The rise of concepts like “Telemedicine,” which creates digital portals where doctors and patients can communicate at a distance, has transformed the way we think about healthcare. Hospital staff can provide diagnosis and treatment to support people in rural parts of a country without asking them to visit a treatment center. Healthcare companies can reduce the costs associated with keeping teams connected, no matter how globally dispersed healthcare experts may be.

Healthcare portals even allow patients to communicate with physicians via their smartphones, providing instant updates about their condition, complete with information taken from wearable devices that monitor things like heart rate, blood pressure, and more. Qualcomm, a technology company in Arizona, recently partnered with the local healthcare program to use mobile technology to monitor pulmonary and cardiac patients. The patients wear a device connected to a mobile application. This application collects biometric data and sends that information to a physician so that the doctor can provide consistent, informed advice on how to manage a condition. The service also allows patients to set appointments and communicate with care managers through their devices, leading to significantly fewer hospitalizations in the patients monitored.

By allowing physicians to work more effectively with patients in a remote environment, telemedicine solutions can provide a range of benefits for those in need of support. For instance, a mobile medical strategy can help patients to connect more accurately with their doctors when they don’t speak the same language through artificial intelligence natural language processing apps and translation. Telemedicine can also protect people in environments where visiting a doctor for certain reasons would cause social stigma by allowing them to set up video conferences with the specialist they need.

From an economic perspective, telemedicine and mobile technology in the healthcare environment can also reduce costs associated with connecting physicians and patients. While telemedicine and apps may never replace trips to a doctor’s office or hospital entirely, this mode of treatment has already shown significant promise in reducing treatment costs for patients who suffer from chronic illnesses, both mental and physical.

Using Mobile Technology in Emergency Conditions

Mobile technology also has a significant role to play when it comes to managing emergencies. For years, we’ve relied on smartphones to ensure that we can access the help that we need when our car breaks down, or something goes wrong. Some mobile phone companies even provide panic buttons and GPS tracking devices with their phones, which makes it easier for responders to reach those in danger.

Going forward, mobile technology will continue to play a crucial role in helping hospital staff, Red Cross volunteers, and specialists provide support during natural disasters and emergencies. Collaborative applications in a smartphone like Deltapath’s inTeam application can even help first-responders to stay connected and aligned in their quest to help possibly injured people when they need assistance. With push-to-talk services on communication apps, people in areas without internet connections will still be able to collaborate with their team members. This simultaneously makes communication more efficient in the emergency environment and keeps costs low for healthcare companies.

As new technology like 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence, and IoT connected devices continue to deliver new possibilities to the mobile world, mobile devices will continue to present new ways of serving humanity. Already, two-thirds of the largest hospitals in the US provide access to mobile health apps, and the global mobile health app market is set to reach a value of approximately $111 billion by 2025.

The healthcare environment is just one example of how mobile devices are no longer “just phones,” they’re crucial tools transforming the way that we connect, communicate, and survive.