Remember the days when we had water cooler talks? Or went for a coffee run with a colleague? It’s hard to imagine creating those same kinds of connections through Zoom or MS Teams. Well, it’s not hard to imagine, it’s just plain old hard to do. So how can we continue to build meaningful connections with our colleagues and inspire creativity as we continue to work digitally? For Vena Nation week this year, we had the opportunity to explore these questions with Rainn Wilson. And, oh yes, you read that right. It’s the Rainn Wilson.
Rainn is best known for his role as Dwight Schrute in the NBC sitcom, The Office. He is also one of the co-founders of the digital entertainment company SoulPancake. Rainn sat down with Vena CMO Allison Munro and CPO Tracey Mikita to walk them through how creativity and self-expression create a more meaningful and collaborative work model. He also shared his advice for fostering creativity and connecting socially in a virtual environment (which is the norm nowadays). Here’s a sneak peak into Rainn’s Vena Nation week talk, The New World of Work with Rainn Wilson.
How can we be expressive virtually?
According to Rainn, the best way to express ourselves in a virtual world is by showing our humanness. “People are connected and listening so you have to assume that’s happening. I would just say that the number one thing I’ve seen on Zoom meetings and production meetings is a certain self-consciousness. But the more human you are, the more relatable you become,” he explains.
As we continue with virtual connections for our work, mistakes and slip ups will often happen. Perhaps we forgot to unmute ourselves on a conference call or our PowerPoint crashes— whatever the case may be, it’s important to let your personality shine through. “Letting your humanity, vulnerability and your eccentricities show will really draw people in,” says Rainn. The best way to connect with others and to be expressive in a continued virtual environment is by being yourself. We all have stories to tell and we are all unique human beings so sharing that with our colleagues is important to form positive connections.
How do we bring our authentic selves to work?
“For a large part of my life I felt very disintegrated,” says Rainn, “I lived my life in these different compartments. I had my work life, my faith life, my social life, hobbies, family, friends and stuff that I did for myself in all of these different compartments.” Part of Rainn’s long-term goal has been to integrate all of these aspects of his life and reinforcing how he can be of service throughout all of these aspects. He says that as he began to integrate his beliefs into his work and integrate his work into service, the better he felt and the more authentic he became. “Authenticity comes in connection and in service to others. I would equate authenticity with integrity and integration,” said Rainn.
How important is laughter to the human experience and building connections?
“We need to laugh,” says Rainn, “humour helps us survive.” According to Rainn, humour allows for a deeper human connection. Humour invites vulnerability and relatable experiences between people. This is so important especially when we all continue to work together virtually. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and to share relatable experiences builds trust, which is the foundation for any healthy team environment.